Wake up traveler. It’s not time to sleep anymore. He who sleeps loses.
In joy I came
In joy I live
In joy I will melt again.
So far I’ve managed to relate only the surface details of what happened at the ashram. I haven’t captured at all the personal significance of what transpired there, the effects of which are still reverberating in my life.
I went to the ashram having practiced hatha yoga for 15ish years. Hatha yoga is all the bendy postures (or asanas) and breathing techniques that most people probably think of when they think of yoga. Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I cope much better with the daily stressors of life when I’m able to work yoga into my schedule several times a week. I can attest to the difference regular practice makes in my balance, flexibility, body awareness, overall energy level, and even my general “ok-ness” with the world. My original goal in going to the ashram was to deepen my practice of this physical aspect of yoga. I wanted to learn all I could from a master to better serve others by sharing this knowledge in a more competent and discerning way. I’ve been attempting to get this training for the past three years, but each time I made plans or started a program I encountered obstacles that prevented it from happening.
The last year has been one of the busiest, most stressful, and emotionally funky times of my adult life. Everything came to a head the first six months of this year. I’m not sure why I thought working two jobs in two states was anything other than a ridiculous idea. The weekly commute itself was complicated. In February I was stranded for hours on the interstate in a snowstorm while people died in a horrible accident a few miles ahead of me. In March, Akasha died. The natural disasters that occurred on a seemingly weekly basis in my vicinity were an additional source of worry: tornados, floods, earthquakes by the 100s, dead thing falling out of the sky by the 1000s, and fish going belly up in nearby lakes by the 100000s. Then of course there was the everyday assortment of stressful family, professional, and personal dramas that make up ordinary life. There was little time for yoga practice. Weeds grew and flourished in the untended garden of my consciousness.
The first three “WHY THE HELL DID I COME HERE?” days of my ashram experience, I sat quietly in meditation three times a day and fully experienced that untended garden. It was hot (with mud and muck and stinky stuff). It pissed me off. I turned my anger outwards because I didn’t want to deal with my own issues. (The children were too loud, the high schoolers too lazy, the guru too knowing, the disciple too humble, the wife too kind and devoted, the student’s headstand too perfect. Show off!). When I finally decided to pull out some of the weeds in my mind, all hell broke loose. (Creepy crawly things with wings and pinchers and stingers ran and jumped and flew out at me without warning). I kept coming back to it, emptying it out, letting things go, creating space to learn new things, creating space for flowers to grow. And grow they did. Somewhere around the fourth or fifth day I looked around and realized I was surrounded by an amazing group of people and learning about all the paths of yoga – hatha being just one of the eight paths.
Equally as important, I was learning about myself. I started to become more aware of my own patterns and habits of moving, thinking, and relating to others. That awareness enabled me to identify what in my life was serving a higher purpose and what was not. Weeding out my head opened my heart. Funny how that works.