Housework: A Month of Yoga Immersion
Springtime is the season for home improvement. I just spent the last month immersed in yoga studies and nestled in the sacred care of the mother/goddess. You know how mamas are they sure can put you to work!! As I cleared away the clutter in my inner dwelling, I uncovered plenty of foul smelling stagnant beliefs, dusty divisive habits, tucked away fears and a tremendous reserve of inner-strength and tenderness. As I fall in love with cleaning my temple, I find the work gritty, rich, difficult and exceptionally rewarding!
In Richmond, BC I attended both Level I and Level II of the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (PYRT) trainings. PRYT is a client led form of experiential yoga therapy with supported body movement, open-ended and non-directive dialogue, and moment-to moment witnessing consciousness. It involves exploring and staying with the therapeutic discomfort alive in the mental, emotional and/or physical edge. Each session is an opportunity for awareness and compassionate attunement with reality.
Surrounded by a small handful of women, I continually encountered my edge while being held with profound presence and unconditional positive regard. The work was deep, illuminating and decidedly uncomfortable as each day I swan dove into the shark infested, rainbow-coral jeweled, murky, crystalline waters of my internal psyche. Spontaneous laughter, tears, excitement, bliss, anger and raw emotion moved through me as I came to know myself more deeply.
From there I travelled to San Francisco to study under the Sri Vidya Lineage of Tantra Yoga with my teachers Chrisandra Fox Walker and Katie Silcox. In Sanskrit, tan means to expand and tra refers to methodology, tool or technique. Tantra is therefore a methodology for expansion. Sri means beauty, resplendence, shininess, and vidya means science. Sri Vidya Tantra is the Science and methodology of the expansion of resplendence, or simply put: love.
In her book, Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears, Pema Chodron, notable Buddhist teacher, nun and author writes, As human beings we have the potential to disentangle ourselves from old habits, and the potential to love and care about each other. We have the capacity to wake up and live consciously, but, you may have noticed, we also have a strong inclination to stay asleep.
So much muck and beauty was revealed to me that I am only now beginning to integrate. With respect and love for my teachers, I offer below 8 pearls of personal and universal awareness that emerged from this past month if for no other reason than to encourage you to stay awake and continue your own house cleaning.
- All that is asked of us, all that is required for growth, is that we keep showing up. Every single human being, regardless of their experience and circumstances, has the capacity to heal themselves.
- The first step to changing your life is cultivating heart-felt gratitude and a sincere recognition that you are already whole and complete.
- When I watch others around seem to get new information more quickly than me it triggers feelings of incompetence and self-doubt. I protect myself from this by displacing anger on those I feel aren’t meeting my need for support and guidance. I can transform this pattern by consciously breathing, witnessing, and trusting that am absorbing more that I realize. I receive the teachings that I need when I am ripe to receive them.
- It is challenging for me to trust others with my physical body when I sense their uncertainty and lack of skillfulness (for example other PRYT trainees) due to physical abuse and trauma in my past. This triggers a hyper-vigilant desire to scan my environment for possible threats and danger. Extreme self-reliance and self-protection keeps me from dropping-in and does not allow me to receive support. Awareness helps me to compassionately be with myself. Rather than reclaim control, I can allow for curiosity and awareness as I soften and grow through the experience.
- My ability to receive directly affects my ability to be supported.
- When I allow whatever thoughts, feelings, fears, and doubts within me to just be, I become more unconditional with myself. As I welcome and hold whatever arrives with love, understanding, and compassion, I make friends with the whole range of my experience.
- Prana, or life energy, follows thought; thought follows prana. Awareness of and intentional cultivation of prana helps transport oneself out of the real and perceived sense of limitation.
- Kombucha* just needs a little sweetness, time and loving attention to become the life changing magic elixir of love that it is. My body, my being is the same.
*delicious fermented tea beverage
Free-flight: The Practice of Fearlessness
Downy fledglings leap fearlessly from the only home they’ve ever known in order to know their wings. I see myself in every baby bird whose longing for the wonder of flight is more powerful than the comfort and security of the nest.
Every cell in my body impels me to magnify my work as an Intuitive Healer and devote time and energy into becoming certified as a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Practitioner. All kinds of fears have encouraged me to remain in the Operations Manager position that offers slight financial security. As a single mamma I worry about providing for my son. I’m stretched thin by my financial commitment to the costly 9-month training program with PRYT. In spite of this, more and more I feel the very real discomfort of staying in a nest that no longer supports my growth.
The mind is hard-wired to keep us safe. Do I stay with the steady stream of wormy meals even thought I’m feeling crowded and I’ve got a hunch that there is more to this bird thing than sitting around on land? The nest is warm, comfortable, known. Beyond the nest, what’s out there for me? Groundlessness? Sky? I am more than my mind. I will no longer be incarcerated by my real or perceived fears.
Relying on an external safety net impedes my free-dive. Besides, the interlocking fibers bind me to the same landing place. I’m decommissioning the mental safety patrol and bringing in some wild skydivers that are game to explore the vastness of my inner consciousness. I’m ready to find out what happens when I joyously leap from the nest and trust in the universe and my own innate propensity towards flight.
When I returned from my month of intense yoga immersion, the first thing I did was make arrangements to phase out of my management position. I don’t know what will happen next but I trust with the full force of my passion that I am moving in line with my purpose or dharma here on this planet. Working with tender hearts in the realm of intuitive healing and yoga gives my spirit wings. I am making room to be supported by what I love.
It is not enough for me anymore to just get by. I want more than safety, comfort and stability. I want to fly into the brilliant rays of my soul’s truth to burn up all that I think I am: ego, attachments, human sized desires, false beliefs that keep me hooked to the illusion that I am fundamentally separate. I am here to shine, to radiate!
A yogi is defined as one whose spine is illuminated in light.
Yoga Sutra 1.1 reads Atha yoga anushasanam. Now the practice of yoga begins.