"Hope is some extraordinary spiritual grace
that God gives us to control our fears,
not to oust them."
As part of our Advanced Yoga Teacher Training Program, we usually get a check-in towards the end of the day. My 200-Hour Program absolutely changed my life and while the 300-Hour one has been a bit more heady that hearty, it's still an opportunity to be around like-minded souls who are are all endeavoring to enhance the world in one way other another, be it through themselves or through their teaching. It's a beautiful process and sangha (community) to behold and become a part of. This is also the last module before I graduate, and as such, by the end of it, I'll be offered a Sanskrit name that one of our Master Teachers who's been with us along this whole journey has chosen with the other master teachers at the Soul of Yoga.
Yesterday, when we went around the room, upwards of 30 people shared one-word answers of "bliss," "opening," "excitement," as a marker for how they felt up until that point.
When it came to me, I said, "Surprisingly sad."
There were mini-moans of sympathy in the room. Our teacher paused for a minute, asked another question, then said she'd come back to that.
When I have emotions, I like to figure out why. I feel that knowing the impetus behind it will help me handle it somehow, rather than simply trusting in the process that emotions are going to come up for me, especially as a person who believes in Divine Feminine energy, because these are actually moments of deeper experience, information, and intuition. But, as my mind-body mentor likes to say, "Stop figuring it out. Just feel it. Be congruent with how you feel, what you say, what you're doing."
The past couple of days, we've been learning about bringing the soul into the body. From an energetic and metaphysical standpoint, we talked about how before we ever came into these beings, that we already made an agreement with the Universe to choose the families we did and the experiences that we'll have, because it's all part of our greater spiritual learning. That, when I first learned it, was a doozy. It was taking back my power from being the victim of an unhealthy familial environment and believing that there is a purpose to the pain.
I have turned a lot of my past pain into purpose — it's given me empathy, compassion, and a drive to alleviate suffering for others in so many ways. But, it's not an easy process. It's exhausting. And sometimes, I just want to be held and loved so deeply that the wounds heal without scarring.
From there, we moved to prenatal yoga training and as part of it, we were asked to "get pregnant." We placed bolsters and pillows in front of us to emulate what it'd feel like to move through asanas with a belly. More importantly, we were reminded of how powerful it is to be pregnant, that this is the only experience in humankind where two hearts beat in the same body at once.
There were so many ideas that came up, about how our society has made it so that the year-long process in which a woman's body adapts to giving birth has become, "How quickly can you get your pre-baby body back?" We spoke of women who were frustrated about the process, which in turn, has been shown scientifically to affect the development of the baby's brain. If the mom is stressed, the baby develops a fight-or-flight response pattern; if the mom is accepting of the process, the baby develops with a greater sense of well-being. Makes sense. Again, two hearts and souls in the same body at once.
We've lost that connection with the tribal element of sensuality and beauty that comes with such a dramatic shift in consciousness and being, but it's something we as women can help bring back. Our teacher spoke to everyone in the room, "Men, if you create a sacred space for your woman to be all of who she is — with all of her feelings and emotions — you have a goddess on your hands, who will be good to you beyond belief. Women, you must honor yourself and in so doing, encourage the men in your life to do the same."
And suddenly, when I wrapped my hands around the fake baby bolster I was holding in front of me, I was hit with such a sadness at how much of my life I have pretended like I have not wanted for fear that I would never get it. I told myself I never wanted children, that I helped raise my three younger siblings at a young age and that was enough. I told myself that I would never have the kind of man that our teacher described seeing in her private prenatal classes, in which the man stands behind the woman and the couple move through the poses together with hands on belly and heart. It almost brought me to tears at how close of a connection one would have with their partner, of believing that you could be so honored and treated with such respect and admiration and care and love.
My friend texted me after I shared my sadness. She was only sitting a student away, "I'm here to listen if u want to talk, as u process what's coming up. Love u." And just that moment, I had wondered, "Who can I talk to about this? I feel like I need to open up to someone."
When we went for a walk on the beach a half hour later, she stopped me. "I want to tell you something before we go on," J said.
"Okay," I looked at her, the sunset glimmering beside us.
"You are amazing. You have talents beyond belief and are so beautiful from the inside and the outside, and I just feel like you keep struggling with embracing that understanding," she told me, softly.
I looked up towards the horizon, then back at her. "I know," I replied. "I'm working on it."
My heart right now is fighting. It's fighting against it's old beliefs that I'm not worthy of good love, that I won't have everything in every way that I've ever wanted. Even though I see it evident in the lives and relationships of plenty of women and men around me, somehow it's still felt like it was just outside of grasping distance for me. My fingertips could almost graze the surface of my dreams, so that part of me could curl my palm tightly around it, but always, it felt like the wispy tail of a kite blowing in the wind. Beautiful, and beyond my reach.
I know that I create my reality — no one else does that but me. I do it with my thoughts and my beliefs and my hopes and my fears. And my heart is battling so hard against my head and occasionally itself, to be this person that everyone else around me sees me to already be. What does it mean if I let go? What does it mean if I surrender? What does it mean if I give myself permission to be loved fully, wholly, amazingly well?
I don't know. I don't have any answers to that. It's just one of those things where I have to live it to know it. And living it... that involves being vulnerable. Slipping up. Getting scraped. Getting tender. Getting sweetness. Getting up. Again, and again, and again.
I came across this quote from an author unknown:
"When the world says, 'Give up,'
Hope whispers, 'Try it one more time.'"
My life is filled with so much love and goodness that is trying to permeate my cells and I have been stalwart in not letting it pass through. Because each and every time that happens, it brings up a sense of melancholy that I never got this before. It reminds me of how deep the pit was that I had fallen into in the past, how far I have had to claw my way out of darkness to begin to feel the tendrils of the light.
This is where I am. When I feel like the world gets to be too much, I shut down my phone, close my laptop, hole up. I'm actively aiming to do the opposite, because an old friend of mine had once said, "If you want things to change, do the opposite of what you would normally do."
So, I'm leaning into the discomfort, allowing the fear to come in but choosing love instead. We'll see where this goes. Either way, I'm thankful for the opportunity to develop myself into a greater version of me, even if the steps along the way are cracked, uneven, and quaking.