TAKING MY SEAT

 

A pivotal point in my recent life journey emerged when I began to actively practice yoga in 2011. Seeking a variation in my exercise and physical activity I entered a yoga studio in Southern Pines, NC where I was spending much of the winter with my horses, seeking refuge from the NE winter.

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MISTY:  HAPPY BABY POSE

Challenging, sweaty, painful, humiliating….my first few experiences in the studio. My inflexible limbs would not cooperate with the suggested poses. Gasping for air, I could not stay in step with gentle, slow breathing.  I lived for the end of the class, shavasana, or corpse pose, when you get to lie down, close your eyes, and drift off.

Two teachers became role models and inspiration for my practice, Sarah and Marcella. Quiet, strong, supple, they encouraged and helped me stay with it.  Most of all, I loved that they reminded me that it is Yoga practice, not Yoga perfect. I began to view yoga as a way of self-expression, living and practicing within my own limits. I released the need to compare myself to others in the room; to focus on my mat and do my best.  I learned I could take this concept off the mat, out of the studio, into the world.

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JACKSON:  MOUNTAIN POSE

Marcella suggested that I consider a yoga teacher training in order to deepen my practice and learn more about the history and aspects of yoga that transcend the physical poses. Though I did not have the desire to necessarily teach or make a living at it, I was intrigued and curious. After exploring a few options, I chose to embark on perhaps the most expensive basic 200 hour training ever!  I enrolled in Rolf Gate’s course in Orlando FL, requiring monthly weekend travel to Orlando for 15 months!

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DRAGONFLY AT PEACE

My choice of teacher was simple and straightforward; I had seen the fruits of Rolf’s trainings mirrored in Marcella’s teaching, and I was drawn to the style and softness of the practice. When I heard of his personal transformation as a result of yoga, I had to see for myself what this deeper training was all about. The program was fascinating, freeing, rigorous. Our group became fast friends and shared many laughs and still stay in touch.

Since completion in 2012, I have taught only a handful of courses. The value and principles remain imbedded in my spirit. Over the years, I have abandoned my yoga out of laziness, distraction or simple lack of interest.

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ROLF AND I AT GRADUATION

Isolated in Kenya, unable to run freely as yet, homesick and longing for family, familiar foods and experiences, I turn to yoga. I take my seat on the mat and breathe. Rejuvenating my practice has given me focus, peace, serenity, balance, and the challenge of loosening my increasingly taut body! As the blood and breath reach into cells and muscles ignored for months/years, I feel stimulated yet relaxed. My cells are invigorated and my body tingles with the familiar awakening of this movement of energy within.

I am grateful and appreciate this renewal. It helps me get through days when I feel lost and isolated. My muscles and ligaments respond with strengthening and increasing flexibility. When beginning yoga I did not expect to learn anything other than physical poses, physical flexibility.

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DONOVAN:  REVOLVED TRIANGLE POSE

The insights received from both formal training and regular practice comfort and ground me, affecting both my physical and emotional experience:

  • Surrender my expectations for perfection
  • Open my heart
  • Balance effort with ease
  • Abide calmly in the moment
  • Do my best, without straining or struggle
  • I can take my seat anytime, in order to change my attitude or experience
  • Letting go of struggle yields peace and comfort
  • Being present in the moment attunes me with my feelings and emotional state
  • Release from my mind made prison, being present
  • Suffering is optional

There are so many others….try it on for size!

I thank all of those teachers who have inspired, guided, enlightened, and led me to the beautiful, grounding and heart opening practice of yoga.

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Full Out!

Like so many other things I pick up and then put down in my life, yoga seems to have disappeared from my practice in the last year. The relaxation, physical flexibility, and insights gained from regular practice are necessary for me to live more peacefully and with ease. I hadn’t acknowledged just how stressed, tense, and anxious I have been for the last three months until settling into my Kripalu retreat with Kate at this wonderful sanctuary. The center is dedicated to the spiritual practices of yoga, meditation, mindfulness and promotes principles of ayurvedic healing and food preparation.

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Kate at Kripalu

The food is MARVELOUS, and though we are staying in a “dorm” with 6 other women, it is quiet, the beds (bunk) are VERY comfy, and all the amenities are available. Breakfast is taken in silence and cell phones are prohibited in all public areas so it is magically quiet and serene.

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Carter, Jackson, and Holt

For the last several months I have been juggling several balls in the air, not knowing if, when, or where I was going with Peace Corps. This was frustrating to say the least after the rigors of medical and security clearance that also took months.  Though I had an inkling I would be assigned to Swaziland, it had not been officially confirmed and then we were notified that the funding had not been released so we were uncertain if the program would move forward.

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Suz and Bentley

I have been living out of suitcases and boxes for the last three years since I sold my home in Reading. Since my return from Malawi last July I have had 4 different addresses, living no more than 2-4 months in any one place. This has been a logistical nightmare in terms of receiving mail in a timely way as well as really never feeling “at home” anywhere. My nesting instincts have become increasingly acute though I have stripped my belongings down to the bare minimum, at least what I move around with. I still have over 4500 pounds in storage so I have not made as much progress in that department as I had hoped.

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Carrie in Boca

We received confirmation that the program had been fully funded a week ago, just in the nick of time. If delayed another week, they would have cancelled the program for the year due to logistics etc. While all the uncertainty had been building over the last few months, I was faced with the added challenge of choosing a path that was most in alignment with my highest good. That is a challenge on a normal day but the Universe had served up some additional distractions and opportunities that began confusing and tempting me.

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dearest Mom

In May, I met John…blind date, Denver. We have been inseparable ever since. How is it possible that I am offered this amazing man during a time of potential separation by 9775 miles? John is a former Peace Corps Volunteer (Brazil 1973) so he understands the desire, the service, the adventure. He has fully supported me, aligned with the spirit of the program, and has expressed his own desire and interest in joining me for much of the year and finding his own niche there.

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Me and Johnnie

The principle of aligning with our soul’s purpose and carrying that forward in the world has never been more present in my life. From a story in the Bhagavad Gita,

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Crested Butte, LOVE!

Considering your dharma, you should not vacillate,” Krishna instructed Arjuna. The vacillating mind is the split mind. The vacillating mind is the doubting mind—the mind at war with itself. “The ignorant, indecisive and lacking in faith, waste their lives,” says Krishna. “They can never be happy in this world or any other. Acting in unity with your purpose itself creates unification. Actions that consciously support dharma have the power to begin to gather our energy. These outward actions, step by step, shape us inwardly. Find your dharma and do it. And in the process of doing it, energy begins to gather itself into a laser beam of effectiveness.

Krishna quickly adds: Do not worry about the outcome. Success or failure are not your concern. It is better to fail at your own dharma than to succeed at the dharma of another. Your task is only to bring as much life force as you can muster to the execution of your dharma.”

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Biking in Colorado

The decision to depart, despite this loving partnership, has been agonizing to say the least.   In the end, I had to listen to my soul and make a choice from a place of the deepest loyalty to my self, my spirit, my heart and trust that the rest would align with that.

This month is filled with travel….Kripalu, Denver, Florida, VT and ultimately to DC on the 5th of September for a week of training before departing for Swaziland on the 14th. I am relying on the generosity of the Universe to line things up behind me in the swirling vortex of the unknown that will manifest as a result of this choice!

I will be engaging full out!!!

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This is who I want to be when I grow up

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor Frankl

 

https://kripalu.org/resources/second-pillar-do-it-full-out