Sometimes while I plan my week of teaching yoga, I look for inspirational thoughts to share. I often look online via Google, Pinterest, or blogs sites like Elephant Journal and Huffington Post. I’ll find hundreds and hundreds of quotes, articles and pictures just by searching things like “letting go of resentment”, or “learning to trust your instincts”. I recently did a search on Pinterest for “being happy” and oddly enough, these two quotes popped up, side by side.
The fact that their messages were so different left me slightly perplexed. One basically states we should care, while the other says we shouldn’t. After I spent some time mulling it over, I knew which one I favored…….
GIVE A DAMN! MANY DAMNS! MORE DAMNS THAN ANYONE!
A few years ago, I was subbing a yoga class that was described as gentle/pre-natal. I was a little apprehensive at first because I didn’t have a ton of pre-natal yoga experience nor had I ever been pregnant. In addition, I mostly taught level 2/3 vinyasa flow style classes, so “gentle” was a little foreign to me. The studio owner had faith that I would do great so I went ahead and taught the class. There were about ten women in the class, and only two were pregnant. As the ladies settled in, one of the two pregnant ladies walked up to me. She seemed nervous that I was the teacher and didn’t fully trust that I knew what I was doing in regards to her specific needs. I taught the class and everyone seemed happy, however, this particular woman was so upset with my class that she took it upon herself to write the owner of the studio an email with her complaints. She basically wrote that I didn’t know what I was doing and that I should not be a yoga teacher. Luckily, the owner of the studio was very understanding of the situation, but I was totally shaken.
The truth is, that woman had every right not to trust me, because I didn’t trust me. I never should have taught a class style that I wasn’t comfortable with. After telling several people about what happened, almost all of them responded with “don’t let it bother you” or “let it go”, but I decided to take a different approach. Rather than forgetting and “letting it go”, I decided to take time to research and study gentle & pre-natal yoga, as well as modifications for pregnant women.
I still think about her from time to time, and in a way, I am grateful to her for writing the email. It woke me up and made me a better teacher. And by me becoming a better teacher, my yoga students benefit. I am now much more confident teaching yoga to the pregnant women who frequent my classes. I have also added two more gentle style yoga classes to my teaching schedule, and I am happy to say they are both doing very well.
To say “the less you give a damn the happier you will be” is basically saying “ignorance is bliss”. If someone has a negative thing to say about what I am doing, I will care enough to at least give it some thought. It would have been irresponsible of me to just ignore this woman’s opinion, even if she was slightly nasty in her delivery. Any time I get feedback, I take it to heart, and for me that is one of the ways I learn and better myself.
Giving a damn is not always going to make you happy, at least not right away. Sometimes giving a damn hurts. Consider people like Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa and Jane Goodall. These people had to make huge sacrifices because they gave a damn. Giving a damn is really about being selfless. It’s about realizing that you are not perfect and life does not revolve around your needs alone. By caring, you are creating a life of value, substance, and meaning. To me, there is no better reward than “Giving a Damn”.