What I Learned When I Stopped Trying to Control Everything
I am almost 46 years old and have been teaching yoga for more than ten years. I started practicing yoga before the Internet was invented. Even before Lululemon! That's a long time to some, a short time to others.
Recently I called on the incredible R.R. Shakti Redding from Colorado to host Inner Power Yoga Teacher Training at my studio in Frankfort, Illinois, Yoga 360. Frankfort is a suburban town located just south of Chicago in the heartland of the conservative Midwest. I'm pretty sure Shakti had never heard of it.
I called upon Shakti as I knew her program might shake up some things in this “meat and potato” community. The teachings of Inner Power, I knew, went beyond what many teacher trainings in the Midwest offer.
Shakti’s background is deeply rooted in Yoga and Traditional Eastern Arts and she's currently pursuing an M.A./Ph.D. in Mythology and Depth Psychology. Given that, I knew most of us were headed into new territory.
As the time approached for her training to begin, I had butterflies as I anticipated what this would bring to my community and to me. However, I had no idea that this process would lead me personally on a year-long tumultuous journey.
As a mom, wife, business owner and teacher, I'm quite used to things going my way. I'm the one in charge. I set the agenda.
But not in this case.
From day one, I had to give up control. It wasn’t my place. I was not the leader.
I had great expectations, but no authority. For months, I fought the insecurities of going back “to school” as a dyslexic student, carving out 16 classroom hours each month, weekly self study sessions, the Sanskrit written language, the relationship between Purusha and Prakriti and the story of Hanuman. I fought the process, Shakti and myself every step of the way.
That is, until today.
In the shower, as the warm water ran over me, I had what Wayne Dwyer refers to as The Shift. It's a place and time in your life where something shifts and you'll never be the same.
As we entered the last month of training, I was still fighting the frustrating process. But then… The Shift. I reflected on all that I did learn. Not just the knowledge, but also all of the wisdom I'd gained through this process. I came home to a deeper version of myself that I never knew existed.
Here are six lessons I learned from my yoga teacher:
1. You don’t know what’s around the corner until you go around the corner.
We fall into habits, whether its using the same mantras, performing the pranayama exercises, getting into a headstand the same way, even wearing the same pair of jeans or dining at the same restaurant every Friday night. We all have habits. They're comforting and have a place in the ritual of our day.
However, until the moment when we are open to the possibilities that there are other ways of getting there, other ways of doing “it,” we stifle ourselves. We must go around the corner to see what is around the corner or we will never know.
2. Witness the process.
With smart phones, computers, televisions and tablets, we're an over-engaged society. Our minds and fingers are constantly buzzing. As a result, we're prone to over-thinking, and being overly anxious. We lack compassion, gentleness and patience. Stop, lean back and witness as the process unfolds exactly as it should.
3. When you fight something over and over and over, you are off your path.
Every challenge is an opportunity for growth. However, beating yourself up over and over again on the same situation, same circumstance, is the Universe telling you that you are doing it wrong.
Take a left turn on your path and try another way to get there.
4. My cup may runneth over but I am filling up with what I need.
Business can take us away from our passion, our path, our truth our dharma, our (as I like to describe it) "reason this soul dropped into this vessel." This passion exists with in you when you are doing what you love and time and space cease to exist.
What is it in you? We have an internal fire within us that needs to be stoked. The self chatter of, If I only had time I would love to do that. My cup is too full. Your cup is full but are you full? Have you filled up with what makes you whole? Make room and space in your life to fill yourself back up. This is when you will have more to give.
5. Play in the rain for the rainbow is coming.
Life gets hard. Obstacles are thrown on our path. This is the time of true self-exploration. First comes the rain, then the thunder, then the lightning, and then the hail. But then the hail lessens, the lightning lessens, the thunder lessens. The rain stops and there is a rainbow.
6. Let Go. Let God.
Sometimes you have to unclench your fists and release your jaw. You need to just give it up and see where you go. You are not always the driver of your chariot. The Chopra Law of Least Effort will teach us, we get maximum results with minimum effort. Give it up to your higher power and just let go.
And the journey continues.