It happened. After a measly four blog entries. Blockage. I have had nothing to say. Those of you who know me at all should be shocked by the implications. I could blame it on how busy I’ve been, or any one of the array of odd things that have happened in the last couple of months, but I won’t. I mean, I had been in my mind over the last several weeks, but after taking a step back, I can see now that the writer’s block is really more of a Shana block. It takes a lot more flexibility to point your finger in, than out. So, since this is a blog about yoga, that’s what I’ll do.
Have you ever noticed how life seems to go in cycles? For months, or years, it may seem like you’re on top of the world and simply can’t fail. Other times may seem quite the opposite. Murphy’s Law in action. I don’t know about you, but I’ve observed that my gradual shifts in thinking from Happy Happy Joy Joy to Murphy’s Month of Mayhem seem to invariably involve the seemingly mysterious injection into my mind of panic and worry. Practitioners of yoga are told to learn to stay calm and content – in a place of equanimity – regardless of outside circumstance or situation. Cat gets run over by a car? Fine. Lose your job? Fine. Loved one dies? Fine. It’s all fine fine fine. All is well and everything is good. Divinely good. Perfect order. Always. All the time. Does how true this is make it any easier a pill to swallow, though? Definitely not when you first come to grips with the concept, but practice makes progress.
As many of you know, I have a great affinity for reading about anything yoga. In fact, nearly all my non-legal reading for 2009 was exclusively devoted to the subject. Trained in legal research, I was all about the sources. I went straight to the ancient texts and revered masters. I became so interested in learning about yoga for personal development, that I signed up for teacher training at my yoga studio, which I completed this past October. It’s funny in retrospect, though, to look back on this past year and notice where my head was at when it started, and where it wound up. I was asked on the first day of teacher training why I was there and I stated something to the effect of “to learn and deepen my yoga practice”. How interesting, then, that I should find myself after teacher training both teaching for multiple businesses, as well as going into a yoga business with a partner. None of which I regret, of course, but all of which are worthy of evaluation. =)
2009 was no doubt an amazing year for me. One of tremendous personal, as well as professional, growth. For most of 2009 I was practicing asana and meditating 5-7 days a week. Eating and feeling great. Reading and learning constantly. Making new dreams and brainstorming their execution. Making great strides in my career. Meeting wonderful people by the truckload. By the end of the year, seemingly not so great things happened, as they tend to do – but I’m a yoga teacher now, right? I’m supposed to stay content no matter what, right? So how, then, did I become “blocked”.
The starting, and ending, point of the discussion of course is that I blocked myself. Not consciously, mind you, but by a lack of presence. By October I’d justified in my head how busy I was, and how it was totally cool that I was now only actually practicing yoga 1-3 days a week. And no longer actively pursuing knowledge of it (or the other things I wanted to learn about, for that matter). And eating take-out again (albeit primarily healthy (sometimes -ish) vegetarian food). And worrying. Again. And there I was. Back in semi-zombie-mode/auto-pilot. Isn’t it interesting to note how our patterns in the little things like TV watching, eating, drinking, going out, shopping, relationships, exercising, nervous habits, whatever the case may be, are really nothing more than little warning signs to you, by you, that things are going askew.
A new person in my life recently loaned me a book called “Journey Into Power” by Baron Baptiste. Many people I respect have touted the virtues of Mr. Baptiste, however my previous experience with him had been limited to a snippet of an interview he gave for the movie “Enlighten Up”. So after a month or two of walking around “blocked”, I lay in bed New Year’s day and start reading the book. Baptiste is a surfer type from Cali whose parents owned the first yoga center in San Fran during his childhood and he’s practiced since the age of 6. On the subject of inner peace he says: “If you ask for wisdom or higher virtues, know that they only come through trials and tribulations. If you ask for inner peace, God will send you a storm in which to practice and cultivate peace. We get what we want through practice. There’s no such thing as a free lunch in the spiritual realm. You can stay stagnant in your comfort zone on or off the mat, but in order to transcend yourself and gain wisdom, you need to go through the fire, walk on hot coals, travel through the desert of your own mind, and come through on the other side transformed”. Later he quotes Krishna Das who said that the most important muscle to cultivate is the “letting go muscle”.
Baptiste urges readers to “think less, be more”. He says “Doubt your doubts and they vanish. Feel your fears and they fade. Let go of your worries and they fail to materialize”. He’s not alone in the sentiment either. On my second restless night of sleep in as long as I can remember, I had a telephone discussion with my father. His suggestion? An impromptu Bing Crosby cover from White Christmas: “If you’re worried, and you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep, and then you’ll fall asleep, counting your blessings”.
As I’ve mentioned before, society puts a lot of pressure on us to prioritize our life in a certain way. Between career, family, working out, and various obligation fulfillment, how much time is really left for personal growth in the average US citizen’s life? That is really what my blockage boils down to. My failure to stay present with my desire to continue to put my personal growth as a priority. Baptiste points out that “…if I don’t grow, they (his family) suffer. If I don’t grow, the people I work with suffer. In a sense, if I don’t grow, the world suffers, because we are all interconnected and impact one another in powerful ways”.
In summation: Life happens. Sometimes things are stressful and unpleasant. We choose how we deal with things. Not being a spiritual-yogi-know-it-all after 1 year of devotion to learning is normal. Deal with it and move on. Stay present. Breathe. Love. Grow. =)