I arrived in Costa Rica on January 7th. We began training on the 8th.
The necessity of humility – both in the physical and mental sense – was thrown back in my face by my aching lumbar and stiff hips on day one. Surprisingly, this wasn’t a bitter pill for me to swallow. To some observers, the tears I cried during hip openers on the second day may have shown otherwise. But, the thing is, those weren’t tears of anger; they were tears of release. I’ve always heard people say that most of our emotion is stored in the hips, thus when you stretch them beyond their normal openness, passionate reactions tend to follow. I admit that this one was one of several “yoga things” I used to laugh at before I did this training. My laughing at this, among other principles, was based on ignorance and lack of experience. Because I, me, Sarah, #1, hadn’t experienced emotional release during hip openers, I was skeptical. All it took was one instance, one personal experience, to change my perspective, though.
So, on the second day, as my fellow students – who were arranged in a circle out to my left and out to my right – came into half or full lotus while I struggled to do something more than a simple cross legged pose, and the tears came, I was shocked. No joke, my lip even quivered. I forward folded into my half-assed-half-lotus-Indian-style-hybrid pose, and let the saltwater drops fall one by one to the hardwood floor. Doubled over, head hung, arms extended (both for support and camouflage), instead of letting my emotions pick me up, put me in their donkey cart, and take me for a wild ride across the countryside, I took a mental step back, told myself to get over it that I couldn’t go as deep as everyone else (aka: be humble), and recalled something I read in Deepak Chopra’s book, Reinventing the Body Resurrecting the Soul. He provided a list of thoughts and said if you feel even one them, then you are “tuned in.” I felt all of these things:
- I feel inspired
- I see the truth of spiritual teaching
- I sense that I have a higher self
- A deeper reality is dawning
- My inner life brings satisfaction
- I understand things in a new way
- I greet each day with fresh energy
- My life feels more whole.
Lists…we’ve all got them. Who needs another one, right? But the cool thing is, these eight items aren’t a to-do list; they’re a check-in list. I have them written on a napkin and taped to my desk at home, as well as sketched in my journal. You only need to genuinely feel one of these things to be tuned in…tuned in with yourself, with those around you, with God, with the Universe. If you don’t feel one of these things, then what do you need to do to feel it? Do you need to make a change? Do you need to let go of something or someone? In my day to day life, I often feel at least one of the things from the list of eight…but not always. And I know when I don’t feel inspired, or I’m not understanding things in a new way, then I’ve become complacent in some way and I need more light in my life. At yoga teacher training, though, I felt like all of the above statements were fully enhanced and engaged.
I wrote this in my journal on the 9th: “I have already experienced change. I have already learned. I have already opened. I’ve already let go (of some things). What an incredible blessing to be among these wise teachers (Marianne and Ron), mature and kind women, and in a stunning part of the earth. I cried this morning during very simple hip openers. I’ve heard of this happening before but never saw it or experienced it until today. I can’t even explain it, but I felt like I was weeping on the inside, and then the tears came. I must’ve released something. Physically, my lower back hurts. Emotionally, I feel great – neither high nor low. I do feel calm, and not in a pretentious way. I just don’t feel worried about anything right now. I am definitely supposed to be here. I’m learning so much about myself, from others, about yoga, about teaching, about LIFE. It’s so wonderful to be here. Also, I’m thinking of Pete often, and in very loving ways that are somehow different than how I’ve thought of him before. I think I’m respecting our differences more instead of judging them. He has been a calming presence in my life and allowed me to be me. I think Pete is the least judgmental person I know. I am so thankful for him.”
Ok, but back to that list I shared above… Did I feel inspired? YES. I felt inspired by the other students. I felt inspired by myself, too. I was inspired by the learning, the clean eating, and the yoga practice. I saw the truth of the spiritual teaching of the Sutras a
s well as new levels of truth in my personal reading of Biblical passages. I sensed that I had a higher self when I was able to translate some of my tough life experiences into mentorship for some of the other girls, or simply share and relate with others. As for “a deeper reality is dawning”…I realized even in our little two week Costa Rican yoga bubble, that our awareness was heightened, and it occurred to me for the first time that this awareness really could happen on a larger, societal level. Or, at the very least, a deeper reality was dawning within me. Additionally, my inner life did bring satisfaction. During those two weeks I experienced the “bliss state” for the first time in my life. It was a completely calm type of happiness I sustained for many days at a time; I felt fully at peace. I understand things in a new way – um, yes! Dare I say “duh!”? LOL. Onto #7…I greet each day with fresh energy…This one makes me laugh because I even wrote Pete an email telling him he’d be proud of me because I was getting up at 5 or 5:30ish every day yet I didn’t feel tired. At home, I find it challenging to get up early and/or I frequently feel groggy throughout the day. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to feel energetic despite the little amount of sleep I got (admittedly, I stayed up till about 11pm each night). Lastly, did my life feel more whole? Mos def! 🙂 And all of that, #’s 1 through 8, hinges on humility….if we’re so stuck on what we can or can’t do, if we’re fighting with our ego about our accomplishments or lack thereof, then we’ll get mired down in that BS instead of opening our eyes, minds, and hearts to the inspirational all around us.
I don’t know about you guys (who’s even reading this thing? ;-p), but yoga has the power to make everything in your life better. So, before I ramble on again, I’ll just close with that. YOGA MAKES LIFE BETTER! 🙂
Have a great Thursday. I hope it is one filled with inspiration, spirit, satisfaction, truth, wholeness, and/or energy. 🙂
Inner peace doesn’t mean stuffing emotions away; it means allowing yourself to feel what is without suppression – a beautiful and very healing practice. Steve Ross Happy Yoga