Two days into our Yoga Teacher Training in Nosara, Costa Rica we had a bonfire ceremony.  Our yoga instructors lost one of their children six weeks before, and so although it was the first full moon of 2012, the ceremony was not just for this celestial event but also one to remember the life of our teachers’ son, as well as a ritual for release.

We climbed the winding, dirt road to the top of hill that overlooked Costa Rica Yoga Spa with the jungle and the Pacific just beyond it, and spent a little time talking, laughing, and taking pictures by the fire.

 Then, it was time. We gathered ourselves and sat as classmates, as yogini&yogi and aspiring yoginis, teachers and students, young and old, together, on a green tarp that functioned like a makeshift version of a nighttime picnic blanket. One by one, in no particular order, we lifted ourselves off the crinkly surface and approached the flames which danced skyward, stretching themselves vertically as we had been stretching ourselves earlier that day. Each of us had written something on a piece of paper – something we wanted to let go of – and threw it into the fire.  Some people shared what was scrawled upon their scrap; others approached the fire in silence, paused, threw their paper into the flame, and returned to their seats.  I shared what I wrote on my paper: I wanted to let go of judgment, both of myself and others.

The ceremony was a juxtaposition of sentiments.  In the beginning, we fooled around and told jokes, swapped stories, and hung out while Ron built the fire.  During my fireside photo op, I chose tree pose…Marianne can be seen to my side pretending to be “peeing dog” to my “tree.”

We were doubled over laughing afterwards.  And as easily as we’d all opened up and laughed with one another, we shifted gears into sobriety.  When Marianne and Ron indicated it was time to start the ceremony, we hushed ourselves.  Our teachers revealed the pain they felt and what they strived to let go of in order to move forward in their lives.  We listened, and did the same.  Everyone was respectful and when the ceremony was over, we walked back down the hill we climbed and retired to our rooms for the evening.

That night I had an intense dream about Pete and me.  I often have very realistic feeling dreams, but this one was particularly poignant.  I’ll quote from an email I sent to Pete the morning after I awoke from my sleeping vision.

I need to tell you about the dream I had this morning.  It was one of those very realistic, vivid dreams from which I awoke upset because I thought it’d all really happened.  Basically, you walked down the stairs of our apartment, and your shirt was unbuttoned funny and I was like “what is going on?” It was you but with a waxed, tan chest hahah. Not sure what that’s all about. 😉 Anyway, you were very flippant and distant and like “It’s not what you think it is.”  And I was like “then it IS exactly what i think it is!”  and basically you were like, “Ya, I slept with another woman last night.”  And I just broke down and felt like everything was swirling around me and I was floating and I was screaming and crying and trying to kind of punch you (not like in the face, just in an upset, flailing sort of way).  I went through the whole gamut of emotions and thought process within my dream like “Why did he wait until we moved in together? Why is he being so flippant and distant?  Why isn’t he apologizing?”  And I was weeping and weeping and felt this gut-wrenching pain….I felt pain because I felt like I’d let you down.  I felt like (in the dream) I’d lost you because I’d taken you for granted, and I felt guilty and awful in every way.

So, as terrible as that may sound, let me tell you why I’m happily sharing it with you.  I did not dream that because I am afraid of you cheating on me – I know that you never would.  But I think it was a very painful thing, as close to reality as possible, and something that made me realize how much I love you.  It’s not that I didn’t already know how much I love you, of course, but the thought of us breaking up crushed me (in my dream).  Then, as soon as I woke up this morning and realized it was a dream, a sense of relief swept over me.  And that sensation made me realize my love for you has just gone even deeper than it’s ever been before.  In a way, I feel a weight has been lifted off of me.  I think that dream was a blessing because I got the learning benefits of pain without the loss. 

I love you with my whole heart, Pete.  You are such a blessing to me.  You balance me, and love me without judgment.  You are kind and caring and you bring calm into my life…a calm I needed and didn’t always realize I needed.  It’s like I’ve suddenly accepted our differences and stopped judging you and stopped judging myself.  Which, hey, this is what yoga is teaching me! ;-p Yoga really is life, and I’m seeing that now and am beyond grateful that my mind and heart are opening so much already.  I pray that I continue this openness when I return to “regular” life.  

You are a wonderful man.  I am honored to be sharing my life with you.  You are the yang to my yin 🙂

I learned/re-learned a few things from that dream. 1. The power of yoga: after only two days of intense yoga training and education on the sutras, I absorbed principles of non-judgment and acceptance and strove to apply them to the most important areas of my life.  2. The power of dreams: In many ways, they are entirely real…no less real, if you think about it, than many of our perceptions and thoughts we have when we are “awake.” Ironically, when we are “awake” we are at our most unconscious state, often doing things mindlessly as we function on auto-pilot through a majority of our daily activities. 3. The power of pain: As I said in my email to Pete, “I think that dream was a blessing because I got the learning benefits of pain without the loss.”  Humans are primarily motivated to change because of pain (the avoidance of it, that is). People usually live their lives as is until something happens that hurts them and makes them change; and even after excruciating episodes, people still don’t always make the necessary modifications. But in that dream I experienced real emotional pain and garnered the lessons to be learned without losing anything in my “real” life…and I was immediately and incredibly grateful for that opportunity.

The real challenge now is to apply the lessons I learned at “yoga camp” ;-p to “real” life. I know I still have a long way to go toward exercising true non-judgment and patience; but I’m genuinely seeking, and I think I’m moving in a good direction.   As Steve Ross says in Happy Yoga, “If you can’t maintain your inner calm amidst the chaos, you need more practice, because chaos is where you need it.”  You have to accept the world (and the people in it ;-p) and recognize what’s going on around you without being consumed by it.  Also, be accepting of the painful things that happen to us, and try to learn from them instead of ignoring them or becoming embittered because of them.  You’re the only one who suffers from holding onto that pain…and as we all know, hurt people hurt people, so please, don’t be hurt.

 Thanks for reading my blog today.  Happy Monday to you, and namaste 🙂