Uniqueness

During a tough Vinyasa yoga class, the instructor reminded us that we should watch our limits and do what our body can do, without trying to force poses (asanas), which will strain muscles, ligaments and joints. Each person has a different anatomy, and for that the perfect pose, the perfect movement, is the one our body can do, and was made to do.

“It is not gymnastics, it is yoga, guys. It is not about going beyond your limits to perform the best. Find your way, and then you can find the best, find stillness.” that is what she repeated throughout the class. Then she started reading this text to us:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique.

And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions.

It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others”

– Martha Graham

I was totally focused on these words. Vitality, force, energy, unique expression..and if you will block it, it will never exist. Keep the channel open.

How many times in my professional environment, I came across people who still didn’t know what they were good at whilst others did. How many times I met people overly self-confident on qualities that they didn’t fully posses, but still performed relatively well. How many times I met people ‘in the zone’, having found their core strengths, their passion, and performing exceedingly well? Quite often.

The first group is the one who never tries and will never know, never find their uniqueness. It is a loss.

The second group dares to try, and may eventually find their uniqueness by experimentation. Perhaps failing (the mother of learning), but it is trying again and again that will help them to find their uniqueness. But they may get stuck trying to over perform and get better on their weaknesses… I do believe that we have to invest in excelling in what we are good at instead of improving weaknesses.

The third group, perhaps has been one day part of the second one, but some people, just don’t bother about conforming to perceived or unrealistic expectations, but seem to know what they can, and just do it. They find stillness. They find their uniqueness.

I for one, have been part of group two in the beginning of my career, for believing that I could get better at what I wasn’t good at. I was evaluated by superiors and ‘believed’ this mantra. Growing up and learning from my mistakes and from others, I focused on finding my ‘uniqueness’  and moved to group three.

How did that work? It is yes, a ‘unique’ process.

What worked for me?

1. To listen more to my own voice than the expectations of others (those who didn’t know me well but felt entitled to an opinion).

2. To observe me more. Pay attention to my own actions, and identify where and when I performed to the best of my abilities and felt in the zone.

3. To listen, yes, listen to the opinions of those who genuinely know you and are interested in your development and growth. A good mirror is priceless.

Finding our uniqueness is an ongoing process, and it takes a life time. We need to keep the channel open, isn’t it? We need to keep learning more about ourselves, growing, transforming, renewing and  starting all over again.

And each time, each finding, will be unique.

That is yoga, not gymnastics, remember!


This little story goes to my Day 3 at 5 stories, 5 photos at Restless Jo.

This quote goes to my blogger friend Colleen, from Silver Threading, featuring the best place your quote can be: The Writer’s Quote Wednesday.

Martha Graham is considered by many to be the 20th century’s most important dancer and the mother of modern dance. Here is her bio.

Martha Graham was born in Allegheny (now Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, on May 11, 1894. As a child, she was influenced by her father, a doctor who used physical movement to remedy nervous disorders. Throughout her teens, Graham studied dance in Los Angeles at Denishawn. In 1926, she established her own dance company in New York City. 

Ever more bold, and illustrating her visions through jarring, violent, spastic and trembling movements, Graham believed these physical expressions gave outlet to spiritual and emotional undercurrents that were entirely ignored in other Western dance forms. Some of Graham’s most impressive and famous works include “Frontier,” “Appalachian Spring,” “Seraphic Dialogue” and “Lamentation.” All of these works utilized the Delsartean principle of tension and relaxation — what Graham termed “contraction and release.”

Despite the fact that many early critics described her dances as “ugly,” Graham’s genius caught on and became increasingly respected over time, and her advances in dance are considered by many to be an important achievement in America’s cultural history.

Graham continued to dance into her 60s and choreographed until her death on April 1, 1991, leaving behind a legacy of inspiration not only for dancers but for artists of all kinds.


I am also posting for the Photo101 Rehab, the event for everyone who loves photography (hobbyists, amateurs, pro-shooters, or just curious , anyone is welcome), and wants to join a community of like-minded people, who are also fun to connect with.

Want to know how to join? Check below.

Here is what ‘The Clinic Photo Rehab is:

This blog hosted ‘The Photo101 Rehab Clinic’ from 04 to 31 December 2014 and featured over 170 photos made by Photobloggers Andy Townend, Mara Eastern, Cardinal Guzman, DesleyJane, Justine, Amy, Teresa, Albert, Terri, Giving Thought, Ellen, Nalinki, Mariangeles, DwayCrafts, Lucy, Terri, Bampa’s Views, PeaceCrafting, Dreaming of Leaving and Project Easier.

As former patients informed me that the withdrawal symptoms remained active, and new patients recognized the same symptoms, The Clinic – Photo Rehab  reopened its doors.

You can do a self-examination. If you detect any of the following symptoms, as carefully described by Albert from the blog Passionately Curious, come and join us: “Withdrawal symptoms may include the incessant need to carry your camera everywhere with you, the need to wake up in the wee hours to take photos during the golden hour, and checking up on others you met during the course to see what their newfound knowledge has brought fruit to.”

How to join:

Time: The Clinic is open 24 x 7 until the healing process ends.

Camera: You can use any camera, from DSLR, mirrorless, compact, to smartphones.

Theme: Bring your creativity and photograph a theme of your liking in B&W or Color. With or without edition. We like learning techniques as well, if you want to share it with everyone.

Who can join: Anyone can join; and not only former Photo 101 bloggers. All you need is passion. Passion to speak up through images – or words, if you may want to add your thoughts to it as well – showing what you see and how much that is important to you.

Thanks for joining and enjoy it.

The Clinic – Photo Rehab 

 Here is the link to  add your photos. Knock the wall… and click on the image below:

Even if you don’t want to join in, click above and appreciate the beautiful photos of the former and current participants. Go and check their wonderful blogs as well:

ACBistro

AngelineM’s blog

Angle and Views

Andy Townend 

Artishorseshit

Artistic License of Life 

Atelier Azure

Bad Fish Out of Water

Belgian Streets

Beespeak

Deb’s World

Eclecticoddsnsods

ForestWoodFolkArt

Giving Thought Giving Sight 

Japan Can Mix

Jill’s Scene

Lisa Dorenfest

Mara Eastern 

Musings from a Frequent Flying Scientist

My Story by Teresa

My First DSLR Camera

nty6x

Oosterman Treats Blog

Perelincolors

Perspectives on

Restart Urgently Needed

Rubyspolaroid

Snapshots Snippets and Scribbles 

Silver Threading 

The Light Inside Us.

Viaja2

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Sharing sights & insights captured with diverse angles. Ex-corporate slave, now my own boss. Cycling, hiking, cooking, reading, yoga, writing and photography, are no longer only hobbies listed on my resume. It's what I do, when I want.

50 thoughts on “Uniqueness

  1. Lol, You had be right at the beginning. I had a major flashback to my first and possibly last go at Yoga. I signed up for a beginners class. I got there and, goodness it was so so difficult. I felt like I needed to be some wise Indian yogi and possibly be able to self levitate! She had us twisted and in knots of all kinds. I came away feeling shell shocked, and in pain! It wasn’t till the next day that I realised I had got the days mixed up and had signed up for an advanced class! I will try Yoga one day!

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    1. Lol that was really funny! I’d have been in pain too! You really need to have a beginners class!! And some easier classes like hatha. Don’t do ashtanga which is very much as you described. Curious to know what you think when you try again. 🙂

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  2. A great post. firstly I believe in energy, how if it is blocked it can have life changing effects, or should I say if you unblock it, you can be involved in a positive transformation, that is something I am working on. I had to look up this dancer on you tube and actually like the way she moves it was indeed energetic, alive, vibrant, thank you for sharing your find x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a thoughtful yet motivating post. I agree absolutely. You have to be open to things happening in order to fully appreciate and incorporate it in a positive way. It’s taken me years to realize that. I am loving this. X

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fabulous! What a riveting post, Lucile. I don’t know which bit I drew the most from. I know very little of Martha Graham’s work but you can’t argue with that philosophy. It is so important to be open to possibility, even though we often denigrate what we do. I will Google and find out a little more. I will also make some time to come back and visit your links because I have never found time to do that. Who knows- I might even end up in Rehab 🙂 🙂
    Many thanks for the link.

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    1. Thanks much, dear Jo. I am happy if you are happy! I didn’t know much about her either and went to Google after the yoga class.
      Her quotes are thought provoking.
      Don’t ever feel under pressure to check the links. But if you ever feel any of the symptoms mentioned to be admitted at the Clinic, we will send a heli-ambulance to you! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I so agree with Martha Graham’s philosophy! We are made up of energy as well as our surroundings. We can “feel” positivity or negativity from people that you have not even spoke with. Keeping open is allows other energies to flow and our own to absorb making us more complete. I love the yoga instructor’s thoughts on yoga not being a gym where you are pushing pushing your body. Many times I’ve tried some poses and give up in frustration so have never joined a class, only through a book.

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    1. I appreciate your comment very much, Barbara. It is very true how positive or negative mindsets influence us and others around us.
      There are old style instructors who are a bit dogmatic and for that scare people about yoga. I see that there is a new way of teaching and also a variety of styles as well as a much stronger attention given to the anatomy of each person as opposed to expect perfect poses.
      Thank you so much for enriching the discussion.

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  6. I haven’t yet got down to distinguishing different kinds of yoga, but the YouTube general beginner’s classes seem to work well for me. I’m a very sceptical person, so this is still much of a shock even to myself 😉 I remember doing the first classes and thinking that I couldn’t possibly imitate the pose but lo, I just tried it and often it worked. Now I can entertain people at parties I don’t go to by assuming a range of pretzel shapes 😛 Well, namaste, I guess.

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    1. So, you are really doing it. Great to hear. These classes are very useful and have good tutorials.
      There are classes I don’t join because they have a faster pace and are too advanced. I know my anatomy and haven’t done yoga my whole life. Lots still to learn. Namaste!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Someone up there in the chain of comments mentioned the word “riveting” about this post, and I have to agree. Spot on, and intriguing. Maybe we learn things like this. But it is always a good thing to hear again. And again. Because apparently, we learn these kinds of things, we think we progress, and then bam! We discover we forgot something, lose track, lose direction. And need to “open” channels again. I guess that is what learning and progressing is all about…moving forward at your own pace, without judgments. Like Dr. Seuss said: “you are you.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You describe exactly how I felt and what I said to the yoga teacher after the class. It seems to obvious and so simple, and we hear that the whole time, and yet we sometimes run in circles. Thanks so much for adding your insights and sharing it with all the others too. It makes the discussion far more interesting than just the post.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lucile, I guess it wouldn’t be called “life” if it were as easy as learning something and not having to learn it again? And perhaps the really good thing is that we all get to learn things from others, not just “so-called” masters. So thank you, again, master.

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  8. This is a lovely post Lucile and gives me something to think about. I love the line “We need to keep learning more about ourselves, growing, transforming, renewing and starting all over again.” Thanks for such a thoughtful read.

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  9. Its great to read about your experiences 🙂 though i don’t know anything about yoga, i did find that passage kinda intriguing. For a greater part of my life i’ve been eager to quickly close the channels that i deem to be not worth trying. Kinda adapting a different mindset now and am slowly reaping the rewards of this new found exploratory view of things 😁

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  10. You continue to amaze me with your thoughtful and “unique” posts. What an amazing journey (yoga talk, right?) to take words from your instructor and translate them into such wise words, Lucile. The wisdom from women 40+ is so important. It takes living in our world to gain experience and wisdom. We yearn to share these thoughts with others, especially younger folks, but most want to learn and experience for themselves. I suppose that in itself is what makes us unique. And we take our own journeys. I haven’t tried vinyasa (a little bit) in a dedicated session yet, but my friend teaches it. Your instructor is very wise and so are you my friend 🙂

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    1. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and for your insightful comment.
      I recall well that I didn’t want to listen to the advice of my parents and preferred to find out my own truth. You’re very right that this is our drive to go through our life journeys and find our strengths. Paradoxically, making the same mistakes, makes us unique.
      Luckily we have good instructors! I’m happy it’s a good balance between body and mind without being religious.
      Have a lovely Sunday!

      Like

  11. Reblogged this on Just Fooling Around With Bee and commented:
    It’s Friday guys and gals. For many ppl the weekend starts but if you, like me, work flexible shift that’s not always the case. Well for me it’s almost never the case. I get Sunday’s off quite often but that’s about it.

    I’ve decided to make Friday my re-blog day and will introduce you to the blogs that I love. You know of course Silverthreading already as I take part in two of Colleens brilliant memes.

    One of the other participants in “Writer’s Quote Wednesday” is Lucile de Godoy and her blog is just one great inspiration. Please read her post for “Writer’s Quote Wednesday” and “Photo Rehab 101”. Enjoy!

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  12. Lucile! Your words really touched me…especially the line you wrote about the third group..”They find stillness. They find their uniqueness.” How true it is that in life, it seems we are all trying to fit in and to be something that others want or expect us to be. I’ve yet to find my true stillness and my true uniqueness and to accept it all…But I’m almost there!
    Thank you for this meaningful post and also for the quote by Martha Graham. I studied dance in high school and it was around the time that she had died so the teacher really focused on her and the impact she left on dancing…
    Have a lovely weekend my dear!
    *Lia

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    1. Lia, I am grateful and overwhelmed by your comments. The greatest reward when writing a post is to hear that someone was touched by it.
      I share my thoughts and hope to get comments and discussions going but never to touch anyone. So you really touched me too. Thanks.
      I read your comment after the weekend. So…have a wonderful week my dearest Lia.
      Hugs.

      Liked by 1 person

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