This past weekend I taught a class that was on my growing edge as a teacher, and I was nervous as well as excited to be taking this new risk.
The class went well (in my opinion) and we did some deep work around our voices, when to speak and when not to speak. Do we know what we want to say? Do we know what we need to say? What keeps us silent? We laughed and talked during class, and it had a different quality than most of the classes I teach.
I used Audre Lorde’s essay on The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action as the theme for class, and while in class someone tagged me with this article: Appropriating Audre: On the Need to Locate the Oppressor Within Us, which I saw almost immediately after teaching.
I realized I had been appropriating Audre’s words even as I was attempting to be intersectional in my teaching. In hindsight, I saw unexamined whiteness as well as unexamined straight-ness in my teaching. In the second article the author ends with, “And most of all, we need to practice not only self-care, but also radical self-critique.”
As I reflect on teaching at my current edge I am holding myself tenderly in that I challenged myself, and I did new things in class that I have never done before. I am also critiquing myself in that I can do better, and I can take this as an opportunity to keep growing my edge, to keep peeling back the layers of conditioning that I am so deeply entrenched in. This balance of self care and self critique is a powerful practice of loving yourself just as you are and challenging yourself to keep becoming the person you want to be. This concept of self-care and self-critique reminds me of the first and second principles of the 8 limbs of yoga, ahisma and satya. Ahimsa translates literally to non-harming or non-violence. I also like the more liberal translation of compassion. Satya translates to truth, and honesty comes to mind as a practice of truth. The balance of holding ourselves with compassion while also being honest about where we are still growing is a yogic practice, and one that can help us hold ourselves kindly as we challenge ourselves to keep expanding.
How do you practice the balance of self care and self critique?
If you want to hear more about mistakes and messing up, check out my latest article in the South Seattle Emerald: The Yoga of White People F@cking Up.