Be aware when the inner voice is talking 

  How to overcome the inner critic

While traveling to different countries or cities, I always like to go to local yoga classes. For me, as a teacher, it is a nice treat, especially when I get hands-on what I cannot get when I do my own practice. It is nice to see how other teachers teach, how they create a class, how they speak, how they play with energy, what music they use, and so on.

Yesterday I finally made it to a class in Florence Italy. I found the webpage of a studio and it totally spoke to me, the schedule was perfect and so I went. Well, first of all, I was super disappointed that the studio was not what it looked like on the web page. The webpage gave me the impression of a big nice loft, decorated with beautiful paintings, books, plants, and I thought it must be just amazing to have a class there. What it really was: a teeny tiny arched cellar, dark, smelling like stinky feet, no fresh air, not much light. But hey, all the people seemed to be so friendly, smiling, open-minded, as if I am the only one who recognizes the atmosphere. Hmmm…well, I signed in, paid, got shown where the mats are, got the information that the teacher who was on the schedule is unfortunately not going to teach, instead would be somebody else (wooo another challenge for me…the unexpected!). Anyway, there I was. I took a mat, found a spot that suited me most (I am very particular regarding the spot in a room, I need my ‘feng shui’! Hey don’t think I am difficult), finally sat down and was still observing.

Then it started, this inner voice,

…. obviously my protector: “Ohhhh Petra come on, that is horrible, you cannot even breathe, get out of here, it is too dark, it is horrible’,

The other voice: ” hey voice stop it, don’t be afraid, it will be ok”,

Protector voice: ”no I tell you, now is the time, get up, make a scene, tell them how horrible it is, show your disappointment!”

Other voice: ”please stop it, I know you like to complain, but you are just afraid, stay calm, we can do this, give them a chance”

Protector voice: ”but I know you, you do not like it, actually you hate it, and you do not trust these people, and maybe they will have challenges for you, poses you can’t do, get up and leave, and let them know it is their fault”

Other voice: ”calm down, I will ignore you now, I am fed up with you, let me try something new, we will survive”

Oh man, what an inner fight before class. Have you had this happen? All this arguing going on inside? I mean, of course, we always try to protect ourselves and sometimes a new environment is enough to put us out of balance, but what is the worst that could happen?


Finally, the class started…

Protector voice: ”See, the acoustics are so bad here, you cannot even understand the teacher! And look this stupid pose at the beginning, it cannot be good, she must be a beginner”

Other voice: “Hey just because you never started a class like this doesn’t mean it is bad, stop it”

This conversation went on for another five or ten minutes until this protector’s voice stopped. Finally, I was in peace, connected in body, mind, and breath, I was open to each pose that followed, I was surprised by how the teacher linked the poses, I tried to fix it into my mind, to do it next time when I am back teaching my students. I was amazed by the challenging poses she gave us and how I played with it, I was delighted how much fun I had and what I had accomplished in this hour. For the first time, I did chin pose, well not that it is super important, but it made me so happy and I loved the way the teacher made us experience our body.

What did the whole situation teach me?

  1. I am obviously still not very open to new situations
  2. I still have lots of fear inside
  3. I am still kind of judgemental…but…
  4. I am able to observe and overcome my old inner critic/protector voice
  5. I am able to go through a new situation
  6. I am able to open up myself more

We always have to observe our mind.

Is it true what we think, feel, see? What part is talking? There is this protector/ego/inner critic voice in us, who does not like being in new situations, contrary, even if it is a negative, hurtful situation, the part who knows how to handle this, tries to keep us there, it sometimes feels scarier to change to the unknown, even though the unknown could be better. And often we have connected negative learned beliefs that keep us there as well.

Negative beliefs can be:

“I do not deserve better”,

“I am so stupid”,

“I need to be punished”,

“It is for others, but not for me”,

“You are not good enough”, and so on

My recommendation:

  • Figure out where you ‘like’ to be stuck, does it make sense?
  • Try new things, observe the inner talk? Who is talking, which part of you is trying to protect you and is it necessary to be protected?
  • Separate that critic voice from you and talk back!

And speaking here in yoga language with Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.2., “Chitta Vritti Nirodha”, yoga helps to quiet the mind. Practicing yoga and meditation regularly helps to understand the mind-stuff, the fluctuations, finding out what is yours, what are other people’s issues. Only if we can quiet down and become calm, can we live life clearly without going through a roller coaster. Yoga and meditation totally help and train to witness the mind and to understand what is true, what are your true desires, what are attachments, ignorance, and fluctuations of the mind.

If you need help, please feel free to contact me, I am more than pleased to help because it is worth living your beautiful life freely.

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

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