I agreed to go to a yoga class with my sister back in 1999 because, to be honest, I knew Madonna was into it. I liked what she represented to me- an unapologetic woman who owned who she was and transcended her own brand. She reinvented herself over and over again without fear of losing her fanbase.
The moment I stepped into class, however, she no longer held the reason for being there. The teacher did. He introduced me to my body in a way that I, a workout rat who once chiseled down to 14% body fat, never understood. He also introduced me to questions that I never delved into.
The teacher then no longer became the reason. I became the reason.
Unbelievably, this attention to my body and my thoughts expanded my perspective beyond the smallness of my life and into the vastness of my life. It was minutiae and greatness at once. This experience was awesome and challenging at the same time. It changed how I related to the conversations I had with myself and with others. It was a prompt to find new support systems. It became a journey of new friendships and mourning the loss of past ones, which felt both like a relief and tragic at the same time. This didn’t happen overnight as personal growth doesn’t happen overnight. Looking back, I was transcending my own “brand”.
My reason no longer became about me. It became about my practice.
What a relief! No longer fully run by my neurosis, I had a new boss: my discipline. For many years, I kept up. Being more in tune with my body, I ate meals made predominantly from my own hands, and I became protective of my mind and body against the many forms of external input that can be consumed in a normal day. I was by now fully aware of how they impacted my will, health and acuity. To list a few: news, certain movies and books, gossip and certain types of conversation, certain foods, certain people, certain venues. I must have been successful at this: random people came up to me to say I exuded peace; that they wanted some of that.
Over time though, I started to feel insulated.
My practice became about integration with the world…
…which is stressful as all hell. I understand why some spiritual seekers and practitioners choose to move into ashrams… less conflicts to manage (in theory). But it wasn’t for me. Integration feels sort of like getting sober and then deciding to go back to the drinking world and trying to figure out how to honor the new me as well as the world in which I am participating. It is not easy. I can’t judge; I remember those days fondly, all the while remembering how much better I feel now, and I tell myself, it’s okay if I “take a sip” here and there…
Starting a business in this context is code for raising the stakes, and no turning back. No indulging the temptation to hide out in practice. While it can be stressful, and while I no longer exude peace (because I’m pretty sure I look tired.. because I often am), the underlying trust and feeling of peace still resides in me. My yoga and meditation practice is now happening in my day. Yes, I still practice on the mat daily; it carries me. My practice continues on all day though, as I learn to integrate my practice into my daily life of responsibility and relationships.
My dance with duality.
What a dance! It’s a long one too. I love it though. I think mainly because I have the tools to navigate the rough terrain. My body, who is now well versed in practice, screams out what it needs to do, and all I need to do is listen. I understand that this journey is Life. I understand that the rest of my day is one big meditation practice: where I manage expectations and meet agitation, where my mind sometimes works against me, where I remind myself to breath fully and completely, where I sometimes lose focus and wander, where I learn to hold concentration, where I let go of self judgment, where I pay attention to what is happening now, and where sometimes things really flow. And when I work through all that, the results are astounding.
Kundalini Yoga Quotes:
“I’d never felt anything like it; it was just an opening of energy and a feeling of such liberation.” -Marika Bethel, owner, Glowing House