If you've been a student in enough yoga classes, at some point an instructor has probably told you to "work your edge." If you're a yoga instructor, at some point you've probably said this to your students. I've said it as an instructor, heard it as a student and only vaguely understood what that actually means until now.
See, for someone who doesn't like running I noticed that I do an awful lot of it. Anytime I hit an edge, when I start to feel incompetent, challenged beyond what I innately know or am comfortable with, I bolt. If there is any chance that I will fail or not look masterful, my wretched pride intercedes, my defenses go up and I contract away from the source of discomfort. I am better about "working my edge" in yoga because I have someone else there to push me past my own resistance. In my life off of the mat, I don't have as much discipline. However, I have managed to overcome my own fear of looking dumb and done all kinds of things that challenged me, like grocery shopping in Amsterdam and riding inter-city Italian buses (seriously, so confusing). It's not like I am unable to meet challenges; most of the time I simply opt not to for the gross, prideful desire to always appear as if I know everything...which I can admit is pretty ridiculous.
The major problem I am encountering now with this counterproductive pattern is that I'm not mastering anything. Running from, as opposed to working, my edges has left me with shallow knowledge in many different areas and little depth. This is what working my edges would look like: I come to a place with something where I have a gap in knowledge. Instead of pretending like I actually do know, or just dropping it entirely, I ask questions and expand. That's what acquiring knowledge and resources and assistance does- it's expansive! We become smarter and more masterful by opening up and allowing someone else to know more than us and share their mastery. There is absolutely no way to become as great as we can be without allowing other people to help us at some point in our journey.
You're probably having a "Duh!" moment, but this was a big revelation for me. I can now see all the ways in which I've limited my life by not pushing myself to be comfortable with "not knowing." Who ever said I needed to be so impressive? No one knows everything. No one is perfect. It's absolutely fine (preferable, even) for me to ask for help. Come on, Pride, please give it a rest.
Everyone has edges in one way or another. Some people hit their edge and bolt when faced with commitment, or confrontation, or even their own success. The tricky thing is to recognize the edge and, as we say in yoga, work it! I notice that when I hit an edge, I start to feel a mixture of panic and despair. Now when this feeling comes on I can take note, take a breath and stop the cycle- ask questions, ask for help, ask for directions. My mastery expands, as does the boundary of my edge, and suddenly I am able to function more freely than ever before.
With enough practice, maybe the edge disappears completely, and I am that much closer to becoming boundless, ever expansive and free...one worked edge at a time.