The past few weeks of yoga teacher training (YTT) have been challenging for me. Which is probably why I’ve delayed in writing about them.
Early in the training, I began a daily morning Sadhana. Per good, old Wikipedia, this word means “an ego-transcending spiritual practice.) My practice has transformed into lighting a candle to start my practice, practice asana for 20-30 minutes, practice meditation (often with mantra work) for 20 minutes, and then write in my journal until I run out of things to say. Each of these helps me transcend my ego in different ways.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve struggled on all fronts.
Meditation is challenging each day, in part because of “monkey mind” and in part because of a couple of intense experiences during meditation. There have been two instances where I ended up crying during the meditation. The first time was very intense. I was sobbing. I remember the feelings revolved around my ex- and a couple of song lyrics. One from Over the Rhine‘s song “Suitcase” and one from Neko Case‘s song “Middle Cyclone.”
Why’d you ever love me in the first place?
Can’t give up acting tough. It’s all that I’m made of…
Considering I’m getting weepy as I type about this weeks after, I’ve got some work to do in this area. Still. Seven years later… The intensity of that meditation made me hesitant to sit on my meditation mat again. But I have been. Nearly every day.
The 2nd meditation where I cried wasn’t as intense. I was silently chanting “Hamsa, which means “I am that.” I am all things. I am the universe. While meditating, I cycled through visual images of galaxies and atoms. I cycled through people I love, people I admire, and people I’m not so fond of (Trump was in there.). During this visualization and while maintaining the mantra, the faces of my two counselors entered my view. I’d felt as if I could cry, but for some reason, the image of these two women who had such strong effects on my life put me over the edge. The tears started falling, though softly this time. At the end of meditation, I felt very connected to … well … everything.
While crying can be a very healthy thing to do, it still makes me uncomfortable doing it. Even in the solitude of my own home. When I sit on my meditation cushion I try not to think about the outcome, but I do somewhat fear the uncontrollable sobbing I experienced a few weeks back. Meditation is healthy in so many ways. But it isn’t always easy, which is something that seems to get lost in many articles about it.
The physical aspect of yoga has also been challenging. Or rather, Thai massage was my challenge last week. We had a workshop on Thai massage. As my instructor was describing and demonstrating some of the techniques, I got a strong sense of not wanting to do it and not wanting it done on me. I felt tears forming behind my eyes. I opted out of the workshop and got caught up on homework instead. I kept checking in with myself to see if I had changed my mind about participating. My gut and tear ducts kept saying a definitive “No.” Reflection and meditation have helped me to realize that I don’t experience physical touch … well … hardly ever in my life. I quick hug here and there from a friend, but otherwise my life is pretty touchless. On the one hand, I do think that is a bit sad and maybe something I want to change. On the other, I at that moment when confronted with that workshop I was absolutely not ready to give and take all of the physical touch with people I don’t know super well. I’m glad I listened to myself, but in the moment it was a struggle to opt out. At one point I very definitively said to myself, “I am not going to let myself be peer pressured into this.” It was hard, and even if others weren’t judging me, I still felt I was being judged. I felt self-conscious going back to training the day after that because of that.
Reflection and meditation have helped me to realize that I don’t experience physical touch … well … hardly ever in my life. I quick hug here and there from a friend, but otherwise my life is pretty touchless. On the one hand, I do think that is a bit sad and maybe something I want to change. On the other, I at that moment when confronted with that workshop I was absolutely not ready to give and take all of the physical touch with people I don’t know super well. I’m glad I listened to myself, but in the moment it was a struggle to opt out. At one point I very definitively said to myself, “I am not going to let myself be peer pressured into this.” It was hard, and even if others weren’t judging me, I still felt I was being judged. I felt self-conscious going back to training the day after that because of that.
My morning asana practice has also been difficult to maintain. I will admit that my asana practice consisted of Savasana (corpse pose) this morning. That’s it. It got up, put clothes on, rolled out on my mat, and lay in Savasana for 20 minutes. I don’t do that every day, but early in the morning the inertia is there to go back to sleep. But I did get up and roll out that damn mat!!
Writing has been easier, but some days it feels like I’m writing a laundry list. I’ve been including a daily intention, but it doesn’t feel very deep. My intention for yesterday was: “Have fun at Mad Science, to be patient, and put flyers up and make prizes for Pints & Politics.” It reads as more of a to-do list. I need to work on that…
When people ask, I have to say that I am enjoying YTT. And that’s the absolute truth. I have learned so much from the training thus far. But the training has also given me more of a framework to do work on myself. That work is never easy, and it brings stuff up. The “stuff,” including the challenges I relay above, have brought out sporadic grumpiness and snark. Being attacked by ghosts from the past makes it more difficult to stay in the present, remembering we are all made of the same damn stuff. We are all Homo sapiens. We are all neighbors.
We’ve got two more weeks of YTT. I’m looking forward to learning all I can, trying my best to keep an open mind, and graduating into another phase of my life.
I’ve heard more than one yoga teacher say, “Yoga will ruin your life.” This isn’t meant to be a bad thing. It’s meant to reinforce that yoga will set you on a path to get rid of what no longer serves you. I started on that path 8 years ago with my separation from my ex-. I’ve shed a lot of bad habits and have done a lot of self-exploration. But it’s good to take opportunities to reexamine what you think you know about yourself. Something new will always surface, I think.
I hope to not shirk from the challenges this class brings up for me, and probably will bring up for a good while.