100 hours down, 100 to go.
I like to get stuff done. I’ve been referred to by my psychologist as a “human doing” rather than a “human being”. I like goals, I like accomplishing, and I love to learn. New information and new challenges have always been something I’ve craved and to date, there has always been a known next logical step or another mountain to conquer (not actual mountains, usually). So when
I the universe decided it was time for me to throw a grenade into 2017 and jump head-first into the side of me I’d never truly nurtured, the scared part of me believed I could approach this with structure and control. Joke’s on me: chasing a yoga dream, it turns out, is a really big, glorious, messy, beautiful mountain. The quiet part of me that couldn’t wait to break open all over the place and spill love and pain everywhere has been getting exactly what it wanted. And we are only halfway through this chapter.
I don’t know if anything could have really prepared me for everything that comes with training. It has taken much more of me than I expected to give. You can’t “brain” yoga. There is no room for bearing down and grinding it out. You can’t learn alignment cues and body parts and expect to provide anything the yoga world needs. It’s more. It’s the physical stamina to bring your body into prowess and awareness, the intellectual work in anatomy and methodology, all cocooned in the soul-filling intention to bring feeling, community and love to yoga practice and preparing to hold that space for others. It’s unlike anything I’ve worked towards in my entire life of doing: body, mind, and heart.
This energy output is enormous for all of us. We’ve seen illnesses, injuries and exhaustion. Open hearts are fragile; tired muscles are too.
But we are so rich in experience. I remember hearing from yoga teacher friends that training breaks you down and open and then rebuilds. And I can see that now, because the depletion and tear-down leaves what is essentially a slate to write your story starting now. It also makes it possible to absorb every experience here purely and presently. We’ve had opportunities to grow in our practice (hello, Eka Pada Koundinyasana II) and in our world. Earth day included a morning of cleaning 120 pounds of garbage from the beach followed by surfing with the whole crew. That’s right: me, myself, Maddie, despite almost backing out last minute, went into the ocean on a surprisingly-buyoyant-despite-its-weight surfboard (it was also strapped by a cord onto my ankle, cue anxiety) and thanks to a patient and talented Balinese man named Dennis, stood up on said surfboard successfully first try on a probably-unimpressive-but-whatever real life WAVE. Over two days this week, we road-tripped up to Les, Bali to participate in an EcoKarma project at the Lini Aquatic Training Centre to give back to the ocean that has been so good to us (not just in the form of salty, beachy hair). Their work is threefold: restore and protect coral reefs and marine life, empower local stakeholders (especially women!), and partner with both communities and organizations to provide critical links from scientists to fishermen in pursuit of sustainability. These are the sources of heart-fill: the energy in.
So, even with all of the energy out and energy in, I’ll admit that I’ve never felt capable or comfortable with the idea of energy “around”, at least not as a physically accessible force. Maybe that’s because I’ve driven through so much of my life at warp speed, always seeking what’s next, thinking I’ll be happier on the other side of who-knows-what. It doesn’t leave time to sit and feel, to tune in. But it’s a big part of yoga and life for many people I’ve crossed paths with. To me, coming into this training, one of my fears was that I would be surrounded by people who felt energy in a way I’ve never been able to tap into. “Seeing” energy as light, breathing into it, or feeling it physically in the body are all things I was never even sure I believed in. I spent the first 3 days of training feeling really lost, believing I must be the only one who didn’t feel physical light through my body during meditation. I crossed a very big gap when I decided to share this fear. What I didn’t expect was an immediate response of “Oh girl, me too”. I am not alone.
Just going to type that again so none of us forget: “I am not alone.”
And what I’ve realized is that maybe I don’t feel energy the same way as anyone else, and I don’t have to. For me, it’s the way I feel when I see love in others, when I feel empathy or move my body in practice. Smiles and tiny pieces of nature are energy to me, and the presence I can feel when we sit as a group. I wasn’t giving myself credit for this energy. Needless to say, one of the most important lessons I am learning here is to cut myself some slack. And, as a result of giving myself some space, I let go of the brain turmoil over doing meditation “right” and feeling energy “right”. And then I felt it. For the first time, at sunrise on a beach in Bali, surrounded by a big circle of human goodness, I felt some heat in my hands. It was just a little fire, but I nearly lost concentration the moment it happened. By another divine act, I realized in looking back at the pictures from our photographer extraordinaire that the moment was captured for me forever (that one up there ^^). Universes, I tell ya.
Maybe that’s what made it clearer to me what to pursue as my life mission at the close of the first 100 hours of training. Actively trying to find a balance between wanting to grow and being okay right where I am, and believing in others’ and my own enoughness. It’s been an intense process so far, but I think all of Bali’s “welcome” signs should tout “If you aren’t a human being, you will be soon”.
I’m tuning in
I’m leaning in
I’m 100 hours in