Photo from Shakti School of Dance. Pushkar, Rajasthan 2016
Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.
~ Saint Augustine
I didn’t understand the massive power of humility until I embarked upon my Odissi Classical Dance training.
The humility I feel as I learn this dance moves me to tears and challenges me beyond anything I’ve ever done in my life.
Every time I step into the dance studio and begin to practice I enter into a state of humility and awe.
Humility isn’t weakness.
Humility isn’t about low self-esteem.
Humility isn’t about losing your status or power.
It is about perspective. It is about the bigger picture. That we are all just part of this whole experience. A tiny drop in the grand ocean of time.
This is not to say that we don’t hold power. The paradox is, you are the center of the universe and you are also…well, um…no big thing really.
When you return to the earth someday, the sun will continue to shine. The stars will sparkle on. People will fall in love. Babies will be born. New technologies and inventions will be discovered. Incredible music and art will continue to be expressed.
Life will move on without your human presence.
If you think this is a depressing or sad thought, think again. We are small but we have been given so many precious gems to dance and play with.
Now is the time to humbly step forward and make the most of what is here for us.
This life is HUGE and it is a GIFT.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
~ Mary Oliver
When I experience humility as I practice and dance Odissi, I feel the lineage of this tradition behind me.
At times it is overwhelming. At times I feel unworthy. Most times I feel that I’ve been give the most valuable gift.
My teacher often stresses the importance of remembering that our lineage is always backing us up and loving us…as long as we have a pure heart and intention to carry it on with reverence, commitment and devotion.
And while I feel puny in terms of the Odissi lineage, my Guru and her Guru, and her Guru’s Guru…I feel connected to each one of them and to all of the women and men who have sweat and trembled through this beautiful and crazy difficult art form.
I love this feeling.
If you are not humbled by life often, I encourage you to seek out a greater meaning by embarking on new paths of growth.
Other ways to feel into the power of humility:
- Travel. When I see how other people live and the attitude with which they meet life and carry on, I am extremely humbled.
- Volunteer. Helping others and learning about what they have endured has humbled me to the core. It is amazing what people (and animals) can survive. When we move the focus from ourselves onto serving others, we are transformed.
- Study. Learning something new is sure to bring on discomfort and ultimately, growth. Being a beginner and stumbling our way through a new experience allows our egos to get shaken up and take a back seat. Very necessary. Very humbling.
So as you move forward with your day today, feel into the power of humility. Get more perspective as you reflect upon your life in relationship to your home, family, community, city, state, region, planet, solar system, universe, and the entire cosmos.
Remember that you play a small but impactful role in the grand scheme of things.
Seek out opportunities to feel the power of humility. Lend a helping hand. Learn a new skill. Dive into a tradition or lineage that is ancient and beautiful. Commit to a spiritual practice that leaves you feeling connected to something much greater than yourself.