Saturday, January 11, 2014

An Unintentional Model of Humility.

Over the last decade, I have come to realize that there's a fine line between sharing day-to-day conversation with friends and family and unintentionally imposing myself upon them as a free and all-knowing life instructor.  We teachers love to hear ourselves talk and advise.  When I was three years old, my uncle labeled me "Pati Rina," which translates to "Grandma Rina."

It's for this reason that I am humbled and awed when I interact with someone who embodies truest humility without meaning to.

My dad has been a devout and practicing Hindu for his entire life.  I'd wake up as an angsty middle-schooler and high-schooler to the sound of his meditational ocean breaths (which I now know as pranayama) in our "God room."  He commits to prayer each morning, and is the only person I know who is literate and fluid in Sanskrit.  Before acknowledging anyone, his first step is to open the east-facing door of our home and greet the rising sun.  

I, on the other hand, have spent years catching myself checking morning text messages with my eyes half-closed even though I know better.  My morning practice for the larger part of my adolescence and adulthood has involved racing out the door to catch the [fill in the blank: bus, train, plane, ride] without a moment to appreciate the miracle of dawn.

When I moved to New York a few years ago, I began to practice yoga at first so I could look good in a swimsuit (unfortunately for us South Asians, a fleshy stomach is just one of those things we'll have to accept and somehow call a gift). But in one class early in my experience, we began with the ujjayi ocean breath.  In it, I heard my father. Over time, I'm slowly coming to understand.   

I recently completed a yoga teacher training program.  Still a novice in all aspects.  But over the holiday break, my dad approached me one morning.  "What is a beneficial kind of pranayama for me to practice?  Please teach me," he said.  My dad, asking to learn from his kid without a wince.  Didn't even cross his mind to feel differently.

Sure, he's got his imperfections.  Far more than a subtle amount of "selfies" on his camera.  But his unintentional humility is the very purest kind.  It is humility itself.

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