by Kara-Leah Grant
Today I received a long comment on the article I wrote about my disappointment at how Madonna has chosen to age, because it means I’m now looking for another role model on the ageing front.
The author, Cherise, shares her perspective on the way I wrote the article.
You know what? I read this article this morning and mulled over it all day. There’s something in here that really annoys me Kara-Leah.
I am a contemporary of Madonna. I am nearly 58, which I believe she is now. So, yes, close to 60. We have walked, danced, yoga-ed, bled, and fought our way here… we’ve walked the path. To have a 41-year-old woman publicly shame and judge someone who has walked a path she knows nothing about… well, it’s just annoying I guess.
Ouch, right? Yeah – a small tinge of ouch. And a huge dose of appreciation. Cherise goes on to lay out clearly some much-needed perspective on the way I wrote this article. She ends with:
We women need to support each other at all ages, from all vantage points.
Just felt I had to write back and let you know how your article appeared to me, whether that was your intent or not. I think you’re a great writer and you’re putting yourself out there in brave ways too, and for that I applaud you.
But just wait for your turn. 58 will come your way some day, luck willing. See how it feels then.
It was an awesome comment, which beautifully called me out, in a way that was not personally attacking, and allowed space for me to respond.
I like this. I need this. I welcome this.
The article, I stand by. And I see how it can be read as something which judges or shames. I see how I could have handled the topic matter with more skill.
When I receive a comment like this, I immediately attune to my internal reaction.
First, there is often a slight contraction. A desire to defend. To explain. To deflect. This reaction, I sit with. I breathe into it. I allow it to be. I love the part of me that feels like she needs to defend each other. I love the part of me that is afraid she might have ‘got it wrong’. I love that part of me that is afraid, full stop.
Once I soften and open again, dropping back down into presence and beingness, I reread the comment. My focus is on staying centred and allowing all the intent and the words of the commenter to permeate me.
Can I handle fully feeling what is being said? I know that if there is any contraction remaining, any defensiveness, any hurt, then there is more work to be done.
So I do it. I breathe. I love. I stay in beingness.
Finally, if I have time, I will go back and read the article again through the eyes of the comment(er).
Can I see and feel what she felt and saw when she read the article? What does that feel like? What does that show me? Was I shaming Madonna? Was I judging Madonna? Was I not supporting Madonna?
This is where it gets interesting.
If I can feel that (for example) I wasn’t judging or shaming Madonna, yet the commenter felt like I was – where does the gap lie?
Is it because I was unskilful in my communication? Was I sloppy or hazy in my use of words, or turn of phrase? Did I sacrifice clarity for literary merit?
If the gap lies on my side – if I was unconsciously shaming or judging, or if I was using poor communication – I see it, own it and learn from it.
And, 99% of the time, there is always something to see, own and learn from.
Often, some of the gap is on the other person’s side – their attachments, projections, fears or unconsciousness playing out. However, that’s not what this process is about. I refrain from sharing with the person what I’m sensing about where they’re coming from. They haven’t asked for that. This is about me and where I’m still unconscious and unskilful.
I’m the one that’s been called out, I’m going to own what’s mine and I’m going to learn from it.
Sometimes this can be painful work. It’s humbling. Which is perfect of course. I have no formal teacher and so require the teachings of all who surround me to stay true. Every interaction, every person, every moment.
Am I clear? Am I in alignment? What’s in the way? Own it. Name it. Release it.
In this way, every interaction through The Yoga Lunchbox becomes an opportunity to see myself more clearly, to own my stuff, and to release what is ready to go.
This article in particular has generated a number of comments and emails. It’s been a big learning experience for me. And it’s interesting too, because I started the article three years ago. Over those three years, I kept coming back to it, adding more, playing with it, trying to figure out what I was attempting to say.
Finally, I just published it, still not satisfied, yet feeling like I needed to get it out there. Now, thanks to the feedback I’ve received, I can see much more clearly what was going on and how I could have written the same article more skilfully.
And that’s it, right there. We’re not going to be perfect in how we engage with life, whether we’re teachers or not. We only have a very limited perspective on life. We need the perspectives of other people in order to gain a more full picture. (And when we stop listening to and taking on board other people’s perspectives, these kind of scandals happen.)
However, we also need to have the discernment to ascertain what is worth listening to, and what is coming from conditioned mind – both on our side, and the other person’s side.
This is the work of conscious relationship.
This is the work of yoga.
This is the work of waking up.