I launched a course called the Month of Courage and a few weeks after, I didn’t feel good about it.
Sometimes I set the date and that helps me to get my butt in gear to produce. But this time, that didn’t happen. This time, when I thought about working on the course, it felt like a heavy burden. This time, it was bad.
Have you ever had someone you don’t know that well, maybe someone at work or a friend of a friend, say why don’t we grab lunch sometime, or dinner? You get a sinking feeling in your stomach, but you say, ‘Sure! Sounds good…’
And then hope they never follow up with a date and time.
Two years ago at Yasodhara Ashram in the Kootenay Mountains of Western Canada I had the perfect Christmas. A walk alone on the beach followed by a beautiful brunch with my good friends, a gift exchange, helping cook Christmas dinner and then after dinner time alone reading books. It was the perfect balance of time alone, time in nature and time with people I loved.
The mountains across the lake are softened by haze.
The pebbles dig into my back and bum as I lie down,
I sit up.
A cool breeze sweeps over my skin,
the waves of a boat wake lap against the shore.
I smell diesel.
It feels like I’m at the cottage but it’s the end of my work day and I live here.
It’s been incredibly hot the past few weeks – I feel I’ve moved to the desert. The grass is dying. The apple trees cry for water. Desert doesn’t work for me. After 2 days in Nevada and Utah my whole body softened as we drove into the mountains of Colorado – trees, humidity, I can breath again.
And as the coolness of the evening sweeps in I can feel my body softening once more and memories flood in. Diving off the dock at Rangers, hiking Cape Spear alone, running up the freshly cut road in Bhutan, searching for banana slugs with my cousins in the redwoods. Pieces of my life. Pieces of what brought me here.
The small birds flit in and out of the young poplar trees beside the water and I thought that I had to use post-it notes and logic to remember my life. Chronological order. Seriousness.
I simply sit on the beach and the memories flood in.
Washing over me until I become whole.
It’s typical for me – when a transition is coming up – to live in the future. I remember my last 5 months working in the non-profit sector was a bit of a struggle. I knew I was leaving and a part of me left early.
Now hilariously – in the exact inverse situation – going back to the non-profit sector, and again the transition is 5 months away – and a part of me has already left.
How do I stay here? How can I be grateful for what I have now? Why do I glamorize the next step instead of seeing what the present has to offer?
Intellectually – I know that there are many components that I will miss – moving away from Yasodhara Ashram to a city. I will miss living in nature. I will miss the community here, the support that I have, the beautiful people. I will miss the way I am able to contribute to this place. The way I am able to dream and plan and innovate, to try to do things differently, to try to do things better. I will miss the feeling of being a contributor to a community I deeply care for.
I am reminded of this today as I sit with someone who is leaving soon and listen to all that she’s learned being here, listening to all that the community has given her. This is my work, to be a part of that, to help people enter in and find their own way in.
It’s only when day dreaming happens and the part of me that sees the limitations here comes out to play. Then I feel lost like a leaf in the storm – subject to limitation with no choice.
But really I am more like a fish in a storm – there are some undeniable currents but as I encounter each one I have choice. Will I swim against the current or go with it? Or will I ferry across in search of the next stream? My energy is limited but in every moment there is a choice.
So where do I want my energy to go? And how can I direct the currents of my thoughts?
I know that I am where I need to be – that my work here is not yet finished. Some of my projects are at the exciting beginning stage and need the 5 months to be played out.
And although there are challenges here there is also support. And it is my job to ask for that support instead of day dreaming about an ideal future that is somehow free from challenge.
Be here now – three simple words and yet an incredibly challenging task. But as I learn to ask for help and embrace what I am faced with today – my world can open up and become beautiful now.
Since I was a child, I’ve hated scary movies. And as I grew up I learned to avoid the genres of action, adventure, crime, fantasy, horror, mystery, thriller and science fiction. I am a sensitive person and so I would get so caught up in the film it would feel like I was a participant. For example – when I was in high school I chose to stop watching The Amazing Race because I would get so wrapped up that I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep afterwards.
Last week I went to the movie theatres to watch the relatively calm film Inside Llewyn Davis and as usual there was a preview for an action film before the movie started. And I had the realization that if I focussed on breathing deeply while watching the preview – I didn’t get caught up in it. I didn’t get carried away into thinking that I was actually the main character in a fight for my life. My body didn’t go into fight or flight mode. And I could relax even while watching the preview.
Now this might not seem like that big deal but this has been a huge paradigm shift for me. Instead of avoiding all the things and all the people that make me tense (which ends up being A LOT of things and A LOT of people and gets quite complicated) – I can shift the way I interact with them. By connecting to my breath and to myself I can change the experience of the situation.
And now there are a lot of opportunities for me to practice :). Living and working in a shared space means I end up bumping into others and into myself. So what helps me stay connected to my breath in the midst of conflict?
I am practicing and I am finding out. And I am learning to change how I experience the challenges in my life.
Pioneer in bringing Yoga to the West, Swami Radha writes, “Maya [or illusion] is seeing the form without the essence.”
When I get caught up in my Stats page – reading about how many people “like” my blog – that’s where I get caught, in illusion. I see the form without the essence. I get caught up in the details and forget the purpose.
I started the blog to learn how to become who I want to be, to learn to live my ideals. And so as long as I’m learning I’m connected. So I can step back from worrying about Likes, Followers, Marketing My Message and relax into the process.
Maybe one day I will have dazzling internet fame – and maybe I won’t – but that is not my purpose.
I am learning already. The victory is already won.
Today marks a new beginning. I am just past the half-way mark of my time at Yasodhara Ashram. I have lived here for a year and as of November 1st I have less then a year less than a year left of my current commitment. As I pass this half way point I am beginning to take stock, and look at what I’ve learned.
One thing I have learned a lot about is the power of reflection – most recently through working on my Book Report project. In this project, I see what amazing things can happen when I write and share my ideals, goals, challenges and victories. I commit to them in a more powerful way and they become more real.
One day – when I was trying to fit all of my insights into one book report to imbue them with this amazing power that I have experienced book reports to have – I realized, ‘This must not be the only way.’ And I don’t want it to be the only way! I only have so many book reports left, I don’t want to lose this power when they’re all completed. So I asked myself – what is the essence of a book report? Where is does this power come from?
I saw three main components. One – Writing down my ideals, goals and what I am learning. Two – Refinement: editing and really clarifying what I want to express. And Three – Sharing these refined insights.
And so my new beginning is a blog – a place where I can share what I am learning and tap into the mystical power of writing, refining and sharing.
Welcome! In this past year I have also learned an amazing amount from listening to others tell their stories. My hope is as I learn and grow through writing that those who read about my experiences can learn something from them too.
And an especially warm welcome to friends and family. My other hope for this blog is for it to be a way of sharing my experiences with those who I care deeply about but who live far away. I have begun to post some poems and stories I have written this year which capture my experience and what I have learned – so feel free to explore!
This is my first step on a new journey – my very first post! And it is my first victory on a new adventure…
Om Namah Sivaya!
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