Humans tend to let themselves down. Our lore is filled with great stories of success, but when we consider the people we actually know, or even ourselves, we can overwhelmingly name the times we gave up or did not even try. What makes this consideration so interesting is noting that individuals will go to vast efforts so as not to let others down. Ensuring another’s success seems infinitely more possible than ensuring one’s own. This is why a practice of dedication and intention is more powerful and healing than a practice of self-service.
For many, yoga enters life as a source of healing. I took to the mat in an effort to fix some broken piece of myself, meaning that “I” was the center of my practice. So, when the time came in each class to set an intention, I intended to “build my waning confidence.” When asked to dedicate my practice, I dedicated the hour to “finding my purpose in life.” Ambitious, yes? I distinctly remember the day when I realized that this was all useless!
My nephew was being born. We received periodic updates, that changed from “within the hour” to “sometime soon” to “making some progress, but we don’t know.” As the day continued, and the hours passed, I felt like I was floundering. I wanted to be helping, but there was absolutely nothing I could do. Suddenly, though, I realized that wasn’t true!
I quick-changed out of my street clothes and rushed to a yoga class, where I dedicated my practice to the darling little boy who was trying to make his entry into this world. That practice was groundbreaking to me. When I had a purpose outside of myself, my asanas were stronger and steadier. My breath was more even. I could sense that my body had become a conduit through which energy was flowing out into the air, headed toward someone who needed it. I have never left a session on my mat feeling more fulfilled than the day the energy from my practice helped my nephew to be born.
The magic of dedication is that when we set our intentions beyond ourselves, we glean the benefit. The body becomes a channel for focused energy. Forces of good and strength manifest within us before releasing into the ether toward a specific destination. The recipient is awarded with some extra healing power that we have propelled, and we are rewarded, having had that healing energy also pass through us.
Like most humans, I might give up on myself. But helping someone else is a different game altogether. Embracing this conundrum of human nature is a great feat of self-realization. I cannot heal myself. It will never happen. But I can heal others, and that is the healing process.
— Ammie Kinsman