Your Heart: on your sleeve, or under it?

Do you ever have the experience of hiding your heart under your sleeve? 
I think we all know the expression ”wearing your heart on your sleeve”, that state of being transparent with your heart’s true feelings, willing to be open and vulnerable to others.

I would say I’m more familiar with the under-the-sleeve experience. I don’t like my heart to be laughed at or criticized (including by my own self)… so I often hide it. 

At a recent teacher upgrading workshop I took through the Yoga Association of Alberta, one thing our teacher spoke of was our svadharma, which she defined as your “personal calling, your soul’s purpose”. There is a quote that goes something like this: It is better to do your own svadharma imperfectly, than to do someone else’s, perfectly. Yoga teacher Richard Miller uses the phrase, “heartfelt mission”, a phrase I love. Could we also say that svadharma is living your life with your true heart on your sleeve?

Wait a minute! I love sitting with my son for his piano lesson each week!…”

This was on my mind when I was reflecting on a recent experience with a friend. I shared that I was about to sit with my son for his piano lesson. During these 45 minute sessions, in which he is preparing for his grade 8 RCM exam, I hold the phone over the keyboard, and follow his hands, so that his teacher can see his fingering and correct him as needed.

Perhaps my tone was embarrassed; my friend laughed and gave me several ideas for how to position the phone so that I didn’t have to spend almost an hour of my time holding up a phone. I laughed with her and tried to make excuses for why I did it.

A few days later, as I reflected on svadharma, a voice rose up in me — and this is where my heart came out from under my sleeve — and she said, 

“WAIT a minute! I LOVE sitting beside my 15-year old son for 45 minutes each week, watching him have his piano lesson. Don’t laugh! This is a privilege and a blessing. He is most likely going to be out doing his own thing in a few very short years, and I have this opportunity right now to sit beside him for close to an hour, serving him and his teacher, and witnessing his learning as a pianist. I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world! Do not find some way to rig my phone up — I’ve already got a rig: my shoulders!”

Sure, sometimes my shoulder gets tired. So I switch hands. And my yoga practice helps train my shoulders and the rest of me to work in both awareness and functional movement. I have noticed that the activity feels more and more effortless, since we started online lessons back in March. Not to mention, I also get to learn how to improve my teaching by witnessing his excellent teacher at work. 

My svadharma is not just to be a yoga teacher growing her business. My svadharma is to be all that I am, including the kind of mother I am, the kind of friend, the kind of learner… So I thank my friend for the opportunity to become more aware of my hiding heart, and let her begin to come out on my sleeve.