Thursday, August 22, 2019

Three Questions, Part One

I've had a three questions quietly percolating for months. They were big,defining ones for me. The past four years have taught me the best answers and next steps will come if I let them arrive naturally without rushing or forcing them. I have learned that I have a trustworthy gut instinct (see Calliope), and my practice of trusting this instinct and her process has a proven track record. I found myself in yet another liminal space, but this time I welcomed it with a sense of curiosity and adventure. While I've waited for these answers to materialize, I've been busy living my life filled with enriching pursuits: day job, mothering, writing group, gardening, faith community, and daydreaming.

The first question I've been asking myself: Are you going to teach yoga?

My injured elbow really slowed the momentum I'd gained in my yoga practice as yoga teacher training came to a close last December. The pain in my arm was nagging, but intermittent depending on my activity. I gave it time to rest and heal. I reluctantly stopped going to class afraid that I'd make the injury worse. I hoped that a few weeks off would help, but those weeks turned into months, and I realized that I wasn't feeling demonstrably better.

I was referred to an orthopedist who confirmed I had an injury I couldn't pronounce and that it required a nine-month course of treatment. I left that appointment with a brace and my first cortizone shot.

That's what was happening physically. Mentally, I visualized being in front of a class of people standing on their mats. I couldn't imagine any of the verbal cues I'd learned and memorized coming to mind let alone exiting my mouth. These visualizations (a critical part of how I process, practice, and gear up for something) turned into little panic attacks. Stuck in the middle of this, I felt a swirl of emotions: I'd paid a lot of money for this training. Teaching yoga had been a dream I'd had for years. Was I really giving up on it? I had friends who wanted me to teach them private lessons. I'd be letting them down.

I sat with all of these things. I let the disappointment, frustration, embarrassment, and shame wash over me. I also visualized what life would look like if I didn't teach yoga. What if the training had been only for me? For teaching me new things about myself. Giving me a deeper appreciation of yoga, my teacher's masterful offerings, and knowing my own body better. Those thoughts brought me peace consistently enough that in time I knew my answer. There was nothing to be ashamed of. Education of any kind is an investment in one's self. I hadn't wasted my money by not doing with the training what I'd originally expected. I loved the community I'd become a part of. I liked what I'd learned in the process. I was tough. I took challenges head on. I did not quit in the face of adversity. I like being reminded of these qualities. They will serve me on and off my mat. I cannot put a price tag on that kind of self-knowledge.

Yoga teacher training also taught me about the nature of dreams. I am so glad I put teaching yoga on my list. I'm grateful I pursued that dream. What I didn't know firsthand about dreams until now is that like everything else in life, dreams can change. And when they do, let them go. The pursuit of the dream may be what I was supposed to get out of it rather than the dream itself.

Since I've made the decision to not teach yoga, I've had three friends ask me to teach them. These felt like tests to see how I'd respond. Would I change my mind? Would I say yes so I wouldn't disappoint them? I passed the tests. I told them that I'd figured out that teaching yoga wasn't for me, but I'd be happy to do yoga beside them and point them in the direction of a class they would be comfortable attending. This response gave me a new answer to the question of what was the point of taking training if I wasn't going to teach? My intensive training has made me an knowledgeable yoga ambassador for others who are interested in the practice. This role fits me well. I like being a companionable presence for people.

With this question settled, I moved on to the next...

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