Toward the end of the standing series, I thought the class was going too fast. Danielle is a new teacher, so I thought she was holding the poses too short. Then I looked at the clock, and it turned out we were right on schedule. At that point, I re-evaluated and decided I was having a really good time.
That lasted until near the end, when I got a wicked cramp in my right foot. Usually, if I cramp up, it will be either in Fixed Firm or maybe Camel. Today it was in the final stretch, which I had to sit out for awhile to massage my foot. I didn't feel like I was working that hard, so I'm not sure where the cramps came from.
Also, I used my spiffy new rubber mat from Manduka for the first time. It was a Christmas present, and its really heavy and thick. I used my sisters on the hard wood floor when I practiced in NY. Today, I found I had some of the same difficulties that I had then. The mat is so thick that it tempers the softness of the carpet. This, for me, made it harder to balance. And it made it harder to go as deep in Fixed Firm. In an odd way, I think the extra difficulty is probably a good thing, especially in Fixed Firm I felt a deeper stretch in my feet. Of course, that may have led to the cramping.
In today's passage, Gates warns against being too harsh in self judgment, especially in judging your judgments. Getting angry with yourself over your anger, getting frustrated with your frustrations, becoming disappointed at feeling disappointed -- these can all lead to an endless spiral of negativity.
One of the goals we strive toward is to "be present." Judging yourself, whether positively or negatively, takes you one step away from that goal. So judging your judgment takes you two steps away, and so on.
The other point is that chastising yourself for your negative feelings simply won't work. You don't get rid of negative feelings by punishing yourself for having them. Rather, that way just leads to more negativity. Instead, Gates suggests that the answer is to observe these feelings and let them go.
Then, out of nowhere, he says that instead of shutting out the negative parts of yourself, spiritual practice should turn on the light of love. This introduction of love is very striking. I think its the first time he has mentioned it, and I'm not quite sure what he means, but I'm pretty sure we will be hearing much more about it.