Kelly, Gioconda and I left Austin on Wednesday afternoon and arrived in Buena Vista, Colorado after lunch yesterday. After settling in and a visit from the plumber to help us repair the pipes that froze during the winter, despite all precautions, we spent the evening relaxing, talking and then doing some work on the next iteration of Alchemy of Flow and Form Advanced Teacher Training. This morning Kelly and I woke up, did some reading and a little work before we headed out for an awesome mountain bike ride. Now here it is, after lunch and I am settling in to write a bit.
Almost one year ago I came to Buena Vista, CO to teach when Jenna Pfingston, owner and fearless leader of Jala Blu invited me to give a workshop. Kelly and I immediately fell in love with the natural beauty, the grounded, friendly people and the endless opportunities to hike, bike, kayak and explore the great outdoors that exist in this small mountain town. After years of traveling and teaching which followed years of being in Arizona teaching in my own studio and studying on the ashram with Lee, I found myself starved for nature and more interested in building my own life than in building my business.
Now do not get me wrong, anyone who follows this blog knows that it is not like I let go of my business or that I suddenly slacked off of on those pursuits. Not at all. I continued to teach, write, create programs and develop curriculum and so on. My work is a creative outlet for me and I am grateful to all my students and teachers who support me in the churning of my personal inquiry and experience into the teachable moments and lasting relationships that is called "teaching yoga." But whereas for over ten years, the pursuits of learning yoga, practicing the principles and growing a business seemed meaningful and in many ways were an end in and of themselves, this way of seeing things had simply stopped being the case for me.
Perhaps it was the passing of my guru in 2010 or perhaps it was the shift of my affiliation with Anusara Yoga in 2011 or perhaps it was simply my midlife crisis, which my therapist calls a "passage" and not a crisis, which is certainly more generous language. Perhaps it was "in the stars" as my Vedic Astrologer says that this period of time is marked by the dissatisfaction with status quo and the recognition that what drives and fuels ambition is generally empty even if dharmic. Whatever you call it and however you explain it, I became decidedly less satisfied with yoga as my life and increasingly more interested in making my life my yoga.
Don't get me wrong, I love my practices. I love to learn. I love to teach. I have no interest in a meditation-free life, in an asana-free existence , nor do I want to change jobs or anything of the sort. I just stopped feeling that "finding my perfect offering" or "creating a values-based business" or "clarifying my aims and goals" and "writing action plans" was that interesting or that meaningful beyond what I had already done. Somewhere along the way, I stopped thinking that some "new paradigm" of alignment, philosophy, business, relationship, communication, diet, etc. would fix me, complete me, make some final difference in my life and therefore deliver me to a problem-free existence where I could coast along happy, joyous and free without the need for self-reflection, clear-mindedness and discernment and where I would never grieve loss, suffer betrayal and have to endure the messy business of my own humanity.
Quite simply, I think I started to grow up and growing up involved a different kind of conversation with myself, one founded on a premise of "good enough" as opposed to the the premise of "never enough" as "never enough" kept me focused on an endless search for outside answers, fixes and solutions. Perhaps the irony is that I couldn't have grown up as consciously without making yoga my life and yet, I couldn't keep growing up unless I learned how to make my life my yoga.
I think part of the majesty of the yoga practice is that, if we stay on the path long enough, we will find that we can only engage yoga from where we are and as we are. We can try to fit ourselves into the box of yoga with all its rules, regulations and expectations all we want but sooner or later, who we actually are will rear its sometimes-ugly head and the truth will demand its due. Eventually, who we actually are will win out over who we wish we are. Sometimes the truth is our rage and sometimes it is our compassion and from what I can tell, most times the truth demanding its due is that hard-to-bear blend of light and dark that lives within most of us. The practice meets us in the middle of our human developmental process and will usher us along relative to our unique disposition and evolutionary demands and in time with our own capacities for growth, change and acceptance.
I do not think at 45 I should look at my 35-year old self with judgement as she was perfectly primed for the tasks of that time. And who I was and how I practiced and saw things at 25 was consistent with that unique developmental challenge as well. And even who I was in my more horrible moments as a teenager were all perfectly engineered for my growth. This yoga stuff has not happened outside of my growth as a person and I do not think there is a dharma to follow that exists outside of a dynamic relationship to my human development, personality, and temperament. I do not think dharma is those things, mind you, and I do not think yoga is human development but I do not think it can, or should be, separated.
At any rate, more could be said like how a developmental perspective could help us understand some of the ambition we see in yoga since there are more people in their 30's making a living at yoga than ever before and being ambitious is 100% developmentally on-track at that age. We might see how useful fundamentalism is early in a practice and how damaging it can be after a certain point when the developmental task as we age is to claim our own wisdom and so on. But those are different posts for a different day.
As I have grown up in my own process the return to mountains, rivers and trails that wind through granite rocks under wide open skies has been vital to my process as they are things, oddly enough, that I "inadvertently renounced" in the process of making yoga my life. (Weirdly, my guru was not a nature-lover and my yoga teaching most often takes me to urban centers and not wilderness areas, etc. and so before I knew it 10+ years had gone by without a camping trip!) So, that brings us back to a small cabin in Colorado that Kelly and I are making payments on and the repeated road trips out of the Texas heat into the Rocky Mountains.
Now, off to watch the kayak championships. It is Paddlefest here this weekend and the tribe has gathered.
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"There is a light that shines beyond all things on Earth, beyond us all, beyond the heaven, beyond the highest, the very highest heavens. This is the light that shines in our heart."