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Playing the Edge, Finding One's Spot and Being One's True Self

During tonight's Love and Logic class, Cindy Horst encouraged parents to stretch to allow children to experience more consequences directly, rather than being protected or rescued from those consequences.  The Love and Logic program can be rather extreme with respect to loving detachment, and while parents may not want to adopt such an extreme approach, there is much to be gained by moving out of our comfort zone, but stopping short of real pain (for us), i.e., allowing consequences to do the teaching of our children, but only if and when we, as parents are willing to accept those consequences ourselves. 

This notion of stretching to the edge of our comfort zone reminded me of the concept of "playing the edge" that Erich Schiffman describes in his wonderful book "Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness".  Reviewing the highlighted passages in my copy of the book revealed close alignment with some of the concepts taught by Don Miguel Ruiz in "The Four Agreements" and by Don Juan (via Carlos Castanada) in "The Teachings of Don Juan".  I'll include some relevant passages below.

On "playing the edge" (from Erich Schiffman's book "Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness"):

A large part of the art and skill in yoga lies in sensing just how far to move into a stretch ... This place in the stretch is called your "edge." The body's edge in yoga is the place just before pain, but not the pain itself ... Sensing where your edges are and learning to hold the body there with awareness, moving with its often subtle shifts, can be called "playing the edge."

One of the things you learn in yoga is to enjoy working with intensity. Intensity is simply more "energy" at any given moment, more feeling ... Yoga can teach you to enjoy and learn from a broader range of experience. It will encourage you to seek out and process more intensity ... Skill in yoga involves creating the perfect amount of intensity -- not too much, not too little.

The real key to depth in postures is going slowly, making sure you have thoroughly opened your early edges ... Proceed slowly, edge by edge and gate by gate ... Respect your tight edges. Work with them sensitively. Lure them to greater openness.

Never be in a place you don't want to be. If you do not like it, change it. Adjust. Find the degree of stretch you can totally immerse yourself in ... Never fight yourself.

This last part reminds me of Don Juan's notion of finding one's spot (via Carlos Castanada's book "The Teachings of Don Juan"):

Finally he told me that there was a way, and proceeded to create a problem. He pointed out that I was very tired sitting on the floor, and that the proper thing to do was to find a "spot" (sitto) on the floor where I could sit without fatigue. I had been sitting with my knees up against my chest and my arms locked around my calves. When he said I was tired, I realized that my back ached and that I was quite exhausted.

I waited for him to explain what he meant by a "spot," but he made no overt attempt to elucidate the point. I thought that perhaps he meant that I should change positions, so I got up and sat closer to him. He protested my movement and clearly emphasized that a spot meant a place where a man could feel naturally happy and strong. He patted the place where he sat and said it was his own spot, adding that he had posed a riddle I had to solve by myself without any further deliberation.

Finally, re-reading the opening chapter of Schiffmann's book reminded of the concept of "mitote" in Ruiz' book:

Yoga is a way of moving into stillness in order to experience the truth of who you are ... From very early on, a fundamental conflict was introduced into our psyches revolving around this basic and most important issue: Who am I, really? And because we were not encouraged to find out for ourselves, we believed what other people told us.  The result is that we feel guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, and confused about who we are. We feel judged ... [Yoga teaches you to] turn your attention inward and focus on yourself.  Focus on what it feels like to be you.  Experience you.

I plan to get up extra early tomorrow to have more time to find my spot, play my edge ... and experience being me.

[Update, 09-Feb-2005]

I revised the title this morning -- changing it from a first person to third person orientation -- because I recognize that my focus had drifted more toward me and away from the original thread about parenting.  Of course, everything I write (or say) is always about me on some level, but I wanted to adjust the title to be a bit broader, and to further comment here that one of the things I like about Love and Logic is that it encourages children to be who they really are.  Rather than trying so hard to control children, the program points to a path through which children can more naturally unfold to be their true selves, with gentle guidance and support from their parents.  This approach resonates with me, and I will try to apply it as best I can ... wakefully making mistakes along the way :-).

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