Recently I have taken up Brazilian Jiujitsu. Walking into the jiujitsu gym for the first time was terrifying. Maybe it’s because I need to feel like I know what I am doing, otherwise this newbie must be an imposter. Every time I walk through the doors to practice, it gets a little bit easier. I feel a little more natural. I know the people a little bit better.
I was reminded yesterday how universal this experience is. Yesterday, I spoke to one of our students at Elemental who is considering enrolling in the Yoga Teacher Training program. Listening to her fears and reservations, I could hear myself a hundred times in the past.
It made me appreciate how brave we have to be sometimes to try new things. Internal voices and ideas can come up and freeze me in my tracks saying things like, “If you go there, people are going to make fun of you.”
Aren’t we all glorified children walking around in adult bodies? I feel the same scars I felt twenty years ago when I go to the jiujitsu academy and can’t find a partner to practice with. Well, what to do?
I thought about it for a while. I considered how I could feel sorry for myself because I suck at jiujitsu and feel like a burden sometimes. Then I realized feeling sorry for myself would never help me grow past middle school wounds.
So I started visualizing how I wanted to feel instead. I visualized myself practicing the movements and being in a kind, outgoing and light-hearted space. I saw myself being proactive in asking other more experienced students to work with me. I pictured them enjoying working with me and giving me tips for improvement.
I practice with Michael at home. And when my neck hurts because I rolled on it funny and I don’t yet know how to roll, I don’t throw in the towel altogether. I remind myself these are growing pains. And if I want to continue becoming a better person, then these challenging moments are my gold mine.
Fear may never really go away for me. But I think I am okay with that. There is a huge difference between being afraid of something and running the other direction versus being afraid of something and moving into the experience anyways.
When I decided to join jiujitsu, it was partially due to listening to Michael obsess about it for several months. The other reason I decided to begin practicing was because it was a compromise with Michael. He discovered something really important and fulfilling to him. He plans to stay with the practice for life.
I recently came to the revelation (after trying to let my parents down gently) that I do after all want to have a child. Michael and I both feared having to sacrifice the habits and practices we hold most dearly if we have a child. But my heart began changing when the conviction that being of service to others is the most important thing that I need to learn.
This feeling has steadily been growing stronger in my heart for the past several months. I have been praying for it to become stronger. And I have been praying to have a change of heart, for myself to care as much about the growth of others as I do about myself. I saw that the process of having a child would be a stepping stone to embodying this kind of devotion to the world.
Convincing Michael to also want to have a child after two years of us hypothesizing about our life being another way was not an easy thing. Enter Brazilian Jiujitsu. This was actually Michael’s first concern: if we have a child, he will have to give up jiujitsu. We spoke for an hour about this. I was brainstorming all these possible ways that he could attract more dads with kids into his life that also liked jiujitsu and that he and other dads could get together with the kids and practice. But nothing was allaying Michael’s hesitations…. Until I offered to start practicing.
If I would practice, then it would become a priority for both of us. I would be more understanding about his passions. I wouldn’t feel left out or like he has this whole other life separate from me. We could practice at home together and grow together in the process.
Present day: Tonight will be my seventh class. I entered the process with no expectations which time and again seems to be the best way to do things. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually enjoyed the process even though I was terrified and even though everyone else there has superior skill.
Once I had made an internal commitment to the practice, I realized that practicing Jiujitsu was most likely going to help me grow rapidly, much more quickly than all the other things I am doing. Why? Because it is the last thing that I would have chosen to do from the level of personality. Which most likely means that it is going to stretch me in ways that voluntarily chosen sports may not have. And because I see it as a service, a service to my future self and my future family.