It’s been a while.
I’m currently on the island of Koh Yao Noi in Thailand, where I’ve just finished a 200-hour Embodyoga® teacher training with Karen Miscall-Bannon. We finished the course last Friday so everyone left over the weekend, but I decided to stay until Saturday when my mom arrives in Phuket.
It’s been a turbulent four weeks. I’ve tried to jot something down pretty much every week, but it hasn’t really worked out; I haven’t gotten my head around what I’ve wanted to say. With a group of no more than 5 students (such luxury!) and 200+ hours of studies over the course of four weeks, ’intense’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. With ‘classes’ from 7.30am to 4pm followed by a couple of hours of homework and perhaps a massage – more of a rule than an exception – there hasn’t been time for much else.
Having found myself in awe of what I’d learned in just the first couple of days I thought to myself I’m exactly where I need to be. What followed was a 4-week ride on a rollercoaster and, as some might know, I am not a big fan of amusement parks.
What have I learned?
There is so much more to yoga than meets the eye. The physical practice or asana is just one aspect of it, and the aim of it is not to make us bend in all directions so that we can twist and turn into poses one more ’wow’ than the other, but to prepare us for seated meditation, which is what will eventually lead us to what we aim for, i.e. higher consciousness.
It is a spine centered practice, which to me, personally, was quite the revelation as I’ve suffered from a severe scoliosis including both a corset treatment and surgery. It is not about flexibility, but about the health of the spine. My spine might not be straight but no body in the world is completely symmetrical, which makes my spine as good as yours and any other.
It might sound silly, but that, to me, was a big one.
The mat might be where the physical practice takes place, but the real yoga occurs in the ’real’ world. Someone described it as a journey of the self through the self to the self, which, I’ve come to realize, really is what it’s all about. Defined as the science of the mind, there is so much wisdom to it, so much wisdom. It is about living life with effortless effort; who in the Western world even gets what that means? Prior to coming here, I had no clue.
Also, it makes everything possible. With a little help from someone who knows what they’re doing you might just find yourself faced with the fact that what you used to think of as impossible really isn’t. There are no limits except those that your mind has set itself. Everything is possible (see below!).
We are all the same. We all have our stories, we all have our battles. No matter how perfect someone’s life might seem, it’s not – trust me! We are all human, which means we all have our strengths and weaknesses. None of us is better than the other, none of us is worse. As my friend Catarina put it, each of us is unique, but no one is special.
For someone who’s spent most of her life comparing herself to others this was – is – another big one. We are all human, and we all matter. We all have our place in this world.
I am not alone. It took being attacked by a swarm of wasps for me to realize, but I am not alone. Having fought against fears such as that of being left out and that of not belonging or fitting in my whole life, this was the first time that I could feel that feeling of not belonging arise (who am I to be doing a teacher training? I barely have a practice!), but instead of running away from it for the first time in my life I just sat with it, let it wash over me as it tends to do in moments of uncertainty and doubt, when I find myself wondering what the heck am I doing here… it wasn’t the first time. I sat with it and for the first time ever I realized, and by realized I mean understood, felt, that it all comes from the inside, not from the outside (hello!?), and it was revolutionary. I belong here as much as the others! Can you believe?!
Continuing on that, I am not my accomplishments. Therefore, who am I? Having spent most of my life measuring my self-worth based on my accomplishments – school, swimming, what not – this is the first time that I am able to see the other side of the coin.
Who am I beyond my ambitions? Who am I beyond all the hard work that I put into something that will lead into something else that will eventually make me feel good about myself as I’ve accomplished something?
Who am I beyond all of that?
The recognition of this brought about a minor existential crisis, one that I didn’t get over until the aftermath of the wasp attack. Realizing how far away from Finland I am and that Sydney is no longer my home, I found myself feeling undeniably rootless. Where do I belong?
What am I doing here, and where am I going?
Fast-forward a week and a bit and I am a certified yoga teacher. Whaat?!
Where it’ll take me remains to be seen, but it’s definitely been a journey, and not just into yoga. Never have I ever been confronted with myself in a similar way before and, luckily enough, had such a supportive and nonjudgmental setting in which to deal with it all in my own time.
Challenging at times but so very rewarding in the end, it all makes sense now, me being here. I’ve given up on trying to force myself to figure out what’s going to happen next and surrendered to the fact that I don’t know, I have no idea. It hasn’t occurred to me yet and it’s fine. Someone put it quite nicely a few weeks ago, saying that the decision will come to you when you’re ready for it, the sound of which I kind of liked.
When the student is ready, the teacher appears. How did I not think of that?
Inhale deeply, exhale completely.
I am right where I’m supposed to be.
”And so many saw that she was born to run but made the mistake of assuming that she was running from, when all along she was running to.” –J.M. Storm
Love & light,