by Steph Creaturo
We just finished our two-week Practice Makes Practice camp of the summer — 10 days at 6:45 am. The energy of camp was beyond amazing! And while 6:45am might not be early for some folks, for others, like myself, it is early. While I was excited about camp, I was dreading those early wake up calls from the very first discussions about it back in the spring.
See, I know that I’m a night owl. I have been for years. But this experience challenged me to learn something different about myself, using the smallest, most mundane detail – getting out of bed each day.
There’s a big difference between knowing and learning. Knowing is passive. It’s in the sphere of consciousness, but after I note what I know, I move on. That information’s already been integrated into my wiring and it allows me to glide along the rails of my familiar storylines. Learning is more active. It’s the willingness, and active choice, to be wrong, to fall, to fail, to listen with the head and the heart, to learn something new. It’s also something that may be surprising — like, getting up early has benefits.
I know I don’t like to get up early. But I can learn how to get up without being a grump. I know I don’t like to teach in the morning. But I can learn how to without the undercurrent of the “I hate mornings” storyline. I hate to practice in the mornings because I’m naturally stiff. But there’s lots of learning there, too, when the body is fresh from a good night’s rest.
So for the past two weeks, I got up three days a week at 5am. I can’t say my social graces were any better on the last day than they were on the first, but at least I was more aware of my crankiness and how it impacts others. I learned how the clarity of the morning helps me to keep an open mind throughout the day. And, it was that openness of mind which allowed me to examine the narratives that surround my practice and how they may/may not be true.
I always know how amazing the community at Mala is, but delving into this retreat-esque experience allowed me to learn – again – the value of that community. I was buoyed by the spirit in the room each and every morning. I was tickled hearing the sleepy silence that permeated the room on day one turned into vibrant chatter by day three.
And I learned that there’s the most divine light that flits across the studio floor at 6:45am. Yes, I know this because I’ve heard it from the steady 7am yogis. If I clung to my anti-early morning narrative, I would have missed it and all the learning that basked in that light for those ten days (ok, maybe more like six, as we had a few days of rain — but it felt light in there!). And that would have been a shame. I’ve done enough knowing to have learned that.