I wanted a yoga studio.
Instead, I got …
just little old me.
Taking a leap
In 2016 when I decided to quit my job, to leave the yoga studio I’d been instrumental in establishing – I really believed that life would reward me for taking that giant leap to follow my heart, and that everything would work out smoothly.
How wrong I was! It was such an interesting confluence of endings. I’d worked hard to establish my career; three degrees, gradual progression through positions of increasing responsibility and status. Five years of helping to grow a community yoga studio from the ground up – untold hours of effort in administration and promotion, let alone the teaching. My Dad had died a year earlier. In truth, I think that is what made me jump.
The silent work of grief and time
He was almost 100 when he passed, and still in quite good health. There was nothing wrong with him really, he just wore out. If there was a slither of me clinging to permanence, his passing finally loosened its grip. Now I knew, I didn’t have forever. If I was going to do what I came here to do, to let that seed within me grow to its full potential, I’d better get on with it. So, in confidence, I jumped, wholeheartedly, trusting that life would buoy me and that I’d sail merrily along.
I quickly established my business as a yoga teacher using hired space. However, I soon realised that it wasn’t going to replace very much of my income, and worse, that there wasn’t really a great deal of interest in what I had to offer. I also seemed, as a consequence of my leap, to have lost the community of yoga teachers that I’d been part of. That was heartbreaking, I felt terribly alone.
The next couple of years were really just an exhausting series of investments and efforts to get something to fly. A sense of grief and depression seeped into my psyche. My meditation teacher suggested that I explore my expectations. I pondered this. Yes, I expected success, I expected support, I expected acknowledgement …………… It was very quiet.
Finally, with increasing expenses, I had to acknowledge that a yoga studio was not in my destiny, and I let go of the beautiful space I’d nurtured into being in the Toxana building in Richmond. It was actually an enormous relief when I finally got to that stage, but I needed time to recover and reflect.
The language of the Soul
It had all been so difficult, and yet it was something that I just had to do. There was really no choice. That’s the language of the Soul, it’s not rational, there’s no point arguing, you just know what you’ve got to do. To put a twist on that saying ‘gain the whole world but lose your soul’, I had gained my soul, but not without a great deal of cost in the world. However, the ageing process was pressing the point that everything in the world will pass away, and the things of the world that I had cherished were losing their appeal.
A new yoga for me
The days of a strong physical yoga practice were over for me, it had served me well for many years, and I had loved it. Partly the shift in my practice was due to age and stage, but I had also become wary of a practice that objectifies the body and is focused on performance, striving and achieving. It was at odds with the realisation of the power of simply being in the present moment, just as it is. I’d been drawn to yoga much more from a spiritual perspective than any sense of performance or achievement or because I was particularly ‘good’ at it. But, I had become quite caught up in all of that. It was what I had retreated from. There was no doubt that I had to make a radical departure from it, but where was my place? What did I have to offer?
Life IS ‘what happens while you’re busy making plans’ to quote John Lennon. And, while I’d been working feverishly to breathe life into my dream of a yoga studio, on my own terms, something else had been growing without my attention, all by itself. The one thing that was working well for me was teaching mindfulness. And, probably most importantly, it was what I most loved teaching. I reflected on my life and the slender threads that consistently wove their way through its tapestry. Gradually, I understood that the thing I loved most, the thing that had started to sprout as my adult years dawned, that I was most passionate about, was to support the Awakening consciousness on this planet.
Clearly, we are living in a very special period of time, with unprecedented challenges. However, what accompanies those challenges, is unprecedented opportunity for Awakening, for growth and transformation. The current fire crisis has brought what matters most into sharp relief. It has also revealed the fragility of the systems, the constructs, that we rely on to support our lifestyles.
We’re beginning to realise the limitations of a purely rational approach to life. Many of us are recognising that embracing the mystery of life, not as a dogma or religion prescribed from outside of ourselves, but as a fundamental aspect of who we are, gives us the opportunity to come back into balance. To come home to our eternal presence. To know how to respond in each moment to the challenges that life presents.
I’ve realised that when things don’t go as planned, when life challenges us, that’s when we really shift. I’ve got nothing to lose now. I can be real about what I have to offer. My offerings now, are to support the Awakening consciousness of humanity. To heed the call of our Souls to help navigate the chaos of this time on earth. Yoga is still the right tool for me, but not in the way it has come to be understood in our culture. I want to explore with people beyond the physical, the more subtle layers, but using the physical as a portal.
Where I’ve landed is very much in a non-dual perspective that embraces the difficulties of life as Grace (fierce Grace as Ram Dass refers to it), understanding them as opportunities for growth and transformation. I recognise that suffering purifies, that it burns away the constructs that we can no longer sustain. And, it’s painful. I’ve tussled a great deal with what a hard sell this is – to Awaken will entail suffering. How can I set myself up as someone who supports suffering when everyone is trying to avoid it, to escape from it? I’m not intending to manufacture or impose suffering, but to work with it when it is already there, to extract its nectar. Looking back on my own life I know it’s been the difficult times that have brought transformation. Eckhart Tolle says something along the lines of ‘few of us have a guru, for the rest of us, we have suffering’.
The teacher within
We all have an inner teacher, an inner authority. We can all access the ever-present and unending source of life within us to help us make sense of life’s challenges. No doubt the Universe is unfolding as it should. Yoga, in its full form, provides a map to guide us. But, a little like child birth, it can be painful. But also like childbirth, what you receive is wonderful and worthwhile.
I’m coming out of the closet – It is my heart felt desire to be a teacher of spiritual Awakening. Yoga from the Inside.