“You’ve always had the power, my dear, you just needed to learn it for yourself.” – Glinda the Good Witch, The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
“You changed my life!” It is a thing students say to yoga teachers.
It’s sweet and meant to show gratitude, which is great! It’s also a classic projection. The wiki page on Psychological projection states it is a theory in psychology in which the human ego defends itself against unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.
For example, a person who is habitually rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude. It incorporates blame-shifting. And we all do it to some extent.
We project mostly goodness on to our yoga teachers, though not exclusively. Most folks don’t perceive themselves as loving, caring, kind, compassionate. There are yogic qualities they can’t conceive in themselves, so they name their teacher Fierce, Powerful, Courageous, Wise. But the Buddha taught us we can only recognize the wisdom that resonates with our deepest truth. We know only what we are.
When you have been practicing yoga for a while you will notice there are changes happening. When they happen, embrace them as your own. YOU changed your life.
Not the teacher.
Not even the teachings.
These are tools you picked up when you were ready to change your life. OWN that shit!
YOU are Fierce! YOU are Courageous! And mostly, YOU did the work! You set the alarm and got up came to your mat. You did the poses. You tried just a little harder than you thought you could. You made a yoga practice of self-care and self-compassion. You kept coming back!
Yes. Be grateful to your teachers, for sharing the things we have learned on the journey. Be grateful for the yoga, and the privilege it is to have been given this practice. Be grateful for a place to practice and a community to practice with. And yes, leave your ego at the door and come to your mat in gratitude for all you find there. But remember YOU created your practice. Because then you own it. And if your teacher leaves or your studio closes, or you move, whatever happens, you can begin again, wherever you are, whoever you’re with.
See you on the mat, Annie