"For peace of mind,
resign as general manager of the universe."
I met my friend at a cafe today, and while the two of us have forged a relationship where we may not see each other as frequently as we'd like, when we do, we realize we have more in common at deeper levels than initially thought. On the outside, our lives are different. Yet, on the inside, how we perceive the experiences around us is very similar. One thing she said to me today that struck a deeper awareness is that my mind-body mentor, Barry, is holding me extremely accountable for everything.
During my chat with Barry today, he asked why I didn't tell him that I felt I needed a break. This homework of releasing admonitions has actually caused a physiological response that had me slightly unnerved. Luckily, I have a lot of friends in different wellness modalities who were able to slightly alleviate my concerns and provide various remedies.
I was perplexed by his question and furrowed my brows in silence.
"Did you feel like you couldn't challenge authority? Did you feel like you had to keep performing well?" he asked me. "Because there's a way to take a break that serves you, and then there's a way to take a break that doesn't. If you were running a marathon, taking a few moments to drink water or run a bit slower is allowing yourself a break that well help you in the long-run. Yet, if you decided to stop and grab a drink a bar, that's a totally different story. Why didn't you ask me for help?"
"I thought I did," I said with undertones of frustration.
"No, you sent me an email about what was happening. You didn't ask me for anything. You didn't ask for help, nor did you tell me what you needed."
"I didn't know I could ask you to take a break," I told him.
And here is where he pointed out that the stories playing in my head have meant that I truly don't have healthy limits and boundaries. I will go all out 'til the end of days (and this has happened in various relationships and situations that have substantially compromised my health), because I don't speak up for what I need since Barry brought to my awareness today, I don't even know what I need and therefore, have no clue how to ask for those needs to be met.
"This is all mother stuff," he told me, in a matter-of-fact way. "She teaches you how to be in harmony, how to get your needs met."
"Great," I responded sarcastically.
We talked a bit more, and I told him that I don't have doubt that this process we are in together will ultimately work. It's just that I seem to have doubt about everything else. What's going on in my life. Who's in my life. How to get from here to where I think I want to be.
"Right, that's your admonition. That's what you can work on," he encouraged. "I'm here to help you be accountable, because that seems to be what's been lacking in your life. The adults around you when growing up were not held accountable for their actions, and your eating disorder did not hold you accountable. You set a goal at the beginning of this program for when you'd like to finish, and we've passed that date. That's another thing to look at... the goals that you set."
I felt overwhelmed. When I told my friend about the work Barry and I were doing, she remarked that he truly is keeping me accountable for everything. From the thoughts I don't even know I'm having to the actions I'm living, there is someone who is reflecting everything back to me.
"I know you feel overwhelmed," Barry said aloud. "That's what the admonitions want you to believe — this is too hard, this is too challenging, this is too much. But you're right where you're supposed to be in your process. Everything in your life right now is helping you to bring your shit to the surface, and you can either clean it out, or sit in the muck. Again, the only thing that will stop you is stopping."
"Doubt is the opposite of trust and fear," he continued. "In yoga, what are you taught to do?"
"Have faith," I told him.
"Right, and do you think that your pure heart doesn't know what it wants? Doesn't know what it needs?"
"No," I said quietly. "My heart knows what it wants."
"This is yoga. Burning through your samskaras. That's what you're doing right now. You're doing yoga."
Yeah, this is yoga. This is me, living my yoga off-the-mat and in my daily world. This is me being a student of life, a believer in faith, and hopefully a better teacher, too. I am practicing alignment by bringing body, mind and spirit all into one and it's proving to be harder than I imagined. Yet, even though it took me awhile to be able to move into different asanas and incorporate pranayama techniques, I eventually learned how to cultivate these things into my practice and subsequently teach them to students in class. So tonight, I'll go back to the basics of Ujjayi — loud, victorious breath — and start from there.
Loud. Victorious. Breath.