I discovered something about myself today that surprised me.
A friend asked me whether I believed that God ever stops knocking at people’s hearts. Even though this is not a subject that I’ve spent much time considering, my rather confident response was that I believe God only stops knocking when there is no one left who has not responded to that knock.
This is a very different answer than I would once have given, but the change in my answer was not what surprised me. What surprised me was where my assurance came in giving that believe.
“I’m not sure one can remain safe and grow at the same time.” ~Judith Hanson Lasater
I participated in a yoga teacher webinar with Judith Hanson Lasater tonight as part of my ongoing continuing education as a yoga teacher. This particular class was about teaching beginning students, and she made the comment above in the context of encouraging students to continue to stretch beyond the comfort zones (within reason) in order to grow in their practice of yoga. However, it struck me as a very powerful truth about life in general.
Growth is always about pushing beyond that which we already are. This is inherently risky—and therefore is never safe. To grow is to risk, so I can’t stay safe and grow at the same time.
“The spiritual journey is the relinquishment—or unlearning—of fear, and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.” ~Marianne Williamson
Today has been a day full of messages about fear. The quote above was one that was in my morning reading from Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga (affiliate link), which was the way I started my day. The idea that fear is something that can be unlearned—and that this is the spiritual journey we are on—caught my attention in a way that would not let me go.
I had my first opportunity in several weeks to teach a yoga class tonight as a substitute teacher for one of my yoga teachers who is out of town. The group was the largest I have ever taught, and over half the group had never done yoga of any kind before. Several didn’t even have mats. This was their first asana class of the semester in an undergraduate level yoga class.
To start with, the class was held in somewhat of an unusual location in that it was a regular university classroom where we had to move the tables and chairs out of the way to make room for our mats. The room was so packed with people and furniture that the only space I had to demonstrate poses was to climb up on a table!
There was a time—not so long ago—that this would have completely unnerved me, but instead I found so much joy in sharing my love of yoga with people who were new to it that the time flew right by without me once ever stopping to think of being nervous or self-conscious. It was an amazing feeling, and it shows me just how far the time on my own mat has brought me. Even when I wasn’t doing the poses with them (some of them just shouldn’t be tried atop a table!), my body knows them well enough for me to still cue them without hesitation.
“Cleanliness of the body and mind develops disinterest in contact with others for self-gratification.” ~Yoga Sutra 2.40
I am continually amazed by the synchronicity that brings messages into my life right when I need them. Sometimes these messages appear as I’m struggling with something and thereby help to guide my thinking in a certain direction. Other times, like the last few days, messages appear after I’ve experienced some new breakthrough in my thinking that serve to affirm that I am moving in the right direction.
In this case, I have been surrounded my messages about community the last few days that affirm the ideas I have been expressing the last few days. One that has really stuck with me is the translation of Yoga Sutra 2.40 given above, as found in the reading for Day 63 ofMeditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga (Amazon Affiliate link). This was the reading that greeted my waking eyes this morning.
I just got home from a yoga class that I drove over two hours each way to attend. It was billed as a Yin Yoga and Reiki class, but it included not only the advertised yin yoga and Reiki but also meditation, chakra work, and sound therapy. All in a space that is one of the most healing and welcoming studios I’ve ever experienced. It was an amazing experience! (Definitely enhanced by spending the time in the car with a like-minded soul who affirmed and uplifted me throughout the hours of driving with glorious, deep, and powerful conversation!!)
The last few days have left me agitated, full of doubt and self-questioning, and incredibly discouraged. The hour and a half spent on my mat tonight in class flew by as if it was only a few moments and gave me the blessing of getting out of my thoughts and emotions long enough to settle into my body. As I did so, I rediscovered me.
“Coach Bob Proctor says, “If you know what to do to reach your goal, it’s not a big enough goal.” Big dreams don’t have easy paint by number action plans. Big dreams involve listening to the new frequency of your soul, not the repetitive guidance of ordinary advice. It’s uncomfortable not to know. But, remember, it can be so much more painful to be in a life where every square inch is known.” ~Tama J. Kieves
As I begin this process of setting up my own business and (gradually) becoming self-employed, I feel like I need to remind myself of this a hundred times a day. The part of me that craves safety and security is panicking at the idea that I am doing something this big without really knowing all the steps it’s going to take to get there.
Most people would say that I read obsessively. I read blogs, I read e-books, I read paperbacks, I read hardbacks, I read magazines, I read journals.
I read because I love it, but I also read to survive. When I spend much time without in-depth reading (by which I mean reading a book), my quality of life seriously suffers because I grow inward like an ingrown toenail. I need the mind and heart stretching experience of reading something that expands my world.
“The body locks our traumas inside and archives them for future discovery and, hopefully, healing. Each trauma needs to be unraveled and eased, the scars opened, massaged, and broken down. The body can become like a tree that’s root-bound and dying; the roots need to be very gently pulled apart, not just hacked off. That’s the healing role of Yoga. And that’s what began to happen for me.” ~Ana T. Forrest
This is the grace that yoga has brought into my life. It’s that gentle unraveling and easing of the traumas located in the body that first hooked me on yoga. It’s that gentle pulling apart of my roots that have become so bound and cramped that keeps me coming back to the mat. These past few intensive months in yoga training have helped accelerate some of that healing to ease the root-bound nature of this tree-woman so that life can blossom again.
“Go jump off a cliff. Don’t go near the cliff and contemplate jumping off. Don’t read a book about jumping off. Don’t study the art and science of jumping off. Don’t join a support group for jumping off. Don’t write poems about jumping off. Don’t kiss the ass of someone else who jumped off. Just jump.” ~Jed McKenna
I took jump off an enormous cliff about six months ago now when I quit my full-time job. I’ve been remarkably blessed with the way that has turned out. I jumped, and a net appeared in the form of the part-time position I currently have, which is better than anything I could have dreamed up for my present situation. It’s taught me a lot about trusting the universe.
Now I find myself ready to jump off a cliff again, and I feel like I’m back to square one. When I jumped off a few months ago, I was jumping away from something into the unknown. Now I’m jumping toward something (the beginnings of self-employment), and even though it is still in many ways jumping into the unknown, it feels completely different.