Each of us will face challenges in life. Some of us will experience long periods of challenge that will have us questioning our faith and testing our courage.
A few years ago the ground crumbled beneath me.
This time for me can be described in only one word…loss. I was losing everything.
My mother was dying, my marriage was ending, my only child was leaving the nest, I had to sell my business and leave my home. I was losing friends, loved ones, income, security, comfort, and all that was familiar.
All of this all took place in less than one year.
When you experience an implosion there is very little left of you. The emotional and physical toll is great and recovery is lengthy.
When I found yoga twenty years ago, it came at another very challenging time in my life. That time however, was not a time of loss. The emergence into adulthood with all of its growing pains – new job, marriage, big responsibilities – can be just as ambiguous. I was living a confused tumult, in a whirlpool. And I found myself very unsteady on many levels. Yoga found me and I was able to re-ground again. Psycho-emotionally, the practice of yoga balanced me, it calmed the angry seas.
Living in a vortex of energy, it takes almost superhuman powers to step onto the mat, or to sit on the meditation cushion. It’s not easy to find stillness when you are riding turbulent waves. But each time I mindfully moved my body or slipped into the tranquility of my breathing, I emerged more centered and grounded. My mindfulness practice was a lifeboat in the storm. To this day I will say that yoga saved my life.
The last few years have been an emotional drubbing.
If you’ve ever been through any form of de-construction or demolition, you know that it is messy, dirty, noisy and sometimes painful.
I have spent the last year slowly healing, licking my wounds and re-gaining strength.
But the past several months have found me feeling restless, confused, unhappy, and more than a little fearful. Reflecting recently on this, it has occurred to me that what I am experiencing is the inevitable and necessary phase following destruction. Re-building. I am re-building everything I can, relationships, family, business, security…my future.
And if you’ve ever been through any form of construction or remolding, you know that it too is messy, dirty, noisy and sometimes painful. It also takes much longer than you expect and always cost more than you imagined
This tumultuous period of my life finds me, once again, adrift in the turbulent waters reaching for yoga to buoy me.
When I was in college I took an advanced life saving class thinking it was going to be an easy A. (To this day, the hardest class I have taken.) This class was training in life saving skills in the most challenging of conditions. When someone is drowning they will fight for their lives without any awareness of the attempts being made to save them. When a rescuer approaches a drowning victim, the victim will do whatever they can to survive, including grasping the rescuer as a means to stay afloat. This can have dire results for both rescuer and victim. The struggle to save someone is more often about subduing the victim, controlling their attempts to kill you in an effort to save themselves, it a battle and it’s exhausting.
If you ever find yourself drowning (literally and figuratively), and salvation is reaching out to you, you must surrender. You must become still and quiet.
It will take great strength and trust to do so, but surrender is grace. It’s not about giving up or giving in, it’s about letting go.
It may well save you.
So as I slowly compose a new foundation and forge a new life, I will continue to step to my mat, no doubt many days with tear stained cheeks and trembling muscles. But each time I step off the mat I am a little stronger, a bit braver and slightly more stable.
My house will be re-built on peaceful ground.
How has your practice supported you in times of uncertainty?