What’s My Definition?
When people ask me to introduce myself I tell them that I’m a yoga teacher. I am well aware that for some people, this conjures up an image and I can appreciate that there are plenty of preconceived ideas of the kind of people yoga teachers are. We are often portrayed on TV and in films as ‘woo-woo’ thinking, joss-stick waving, green tea drinking, baggy pant wearing, posture contorting, serenely meditating, calm with a capital C…well, you get my drift.
Anyway, if you know me it becomes obvious that we don’t all fit the stereotypes that other people design for us and, it’s a good time to ask: what exactly is a stereotype?
The dictionary definition states that a stereotype is:
A widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing
Certainly, we can all simplify our ideas about specific groups of people and whilst some stereotype definitions can work in favour of the group of individuals they represent (intellectuals, for example), in the main stereotypical definitions tend to be of a more critical nature in relation to the people they define.
Do we just rely on other people’s definitions to define us? Thankfully, no. We are perfectly able to define ourselves well beyond our job title: We can define aspects of our personality, such as being kind or open hearted, loyal, determined and disciplined, honest and generous, but that’s enough about me! And whilst it’s always useful to hear how our close friends and family define us, we will likely be more qualified than anyone else to know who we are or how best to define ourselves. You would think. We use an internal dialect to determine how to define ourselves and it’s like the mind is talking to itself. This dialect can also lead to us knowing exactly what to say to ambush ourselves with certain harmful definitions often in relation to our physical attributes or abilities, or our intellectual capacities, and our stock rating in relation to our attractiveness to other people. It’s also worth noting whilst we’re on this subject that Facebook is an algorithm and cannot decide whether or not you are a likeable person!
When the way that we define ourselves becomes harmful we need to change the definition. A definition, by definition is limiting, placing a boundary around the thing or person that is being defined and chaining its identity to that definition. Sometimes we all need to loosen the ropes, unhook the corset and let out the waistband! And breathe!! Now doesn’t that feel better already?!
And so I wrote a poem called: What’s My Definition? You can watch me recite this poem on my You Tube channel or you can read the transcript below.
WHAT’S MY DEFINITION?
What to call myself I wonder. How should I describe
A yoga teacher who writes rhyme? How might I set the vibe?
It’s quite a stretch, and stretch is something for which I am renowned
So, what about the Supple Sonneteer? How does that sound?
Or maybe The Lithe Lyricist or The Buddha of Bard
Who writes poetry whilst doing splits. Now that might be quite hard.
A strong handed therapist, muscles I manipulate
With therapeutic massage, tension to alleviate.
So, perhaps I am a therapist of rhymes that kneads her words
A pummelling poeticist which really sounds absurd.
A torso twisting Troubadour, contorting on her mat
with words that rhyme I’m filling time with metrical back chat.
The Stanza Sage with rhythmic gauge to titillate the tongue
Or perhaps The Pliable Poet of Prose. Now that’s a silly one!
At the end of the day how I define myself depends on me
And there are times when nothing rhymes. I’m sure you will agree.
And your perception of me will be different than my own
Remember in this life within our minds, we really are alone.
The company we keep in there may speak to us in verse
We’re wedded to our minds, oh yes, for better or for worse.
And so let’s tie the knot and make the most of what we’ve got
Because what I make believe I am I probably am not!