I have identified myself in many ways over the years: pianist, runner, naturalist, park ranger, interpreter, educator, birder, crazy birder, wanderer, nomad, gypsy, doctor, musician, songwriter, writer, entrepreneur, collector.
I have never described myself as a yogi. And after spending only one hour with fellow women who are embarking upon a yoga teacher-training journey, I still would not go so far as to bestow this title upon myself.
These past few years, something has shifted inside of me. In beginning to pursue a path toward a more sustainable existence, I have grown acutely aware of how few defenses and coping mechanisms I possess for restoring balance to my very sensitive system when the universe sends troubling energy my way. No, drinking wine or whiskey and popping a panic pill does not count because it is a temporary remedy that is built on transience rather than spiritual intention.
In reading about Buddhism, meditation, and yoga, I am realizing that in this realm I may find my soul’s salvation. I do not wish to become jaded and hardened to the world, seeing people as potential enemies that I should distrust nor do I wish for a quick fix (i.e., wine or whiskey above).
What I seek is a sustainable practice for maintaining my sanity while keeping my heart wide open and vulnerable to an unpredictable world.
So, after some reflection and much capriciousness and whim, I have enrolled in a 200 hour yoga teacher training. If you are thinking anything near to the thoughts that have been running through my mind, I may have some inkling as to your response.
But, I thought you wanted to be a songwriter?
Yes, it is true. I do want to be a songwriter. While my music and business partner has informed me that I should be practicing 4 hours a day in order to become the best possible musician that I can be, I am still the same version of myself who gave up on pursuing a career as a classical pianist because I also wanted to learn French and climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
I thrive most when I set challenges and goals that will keep me learning and growing in mind, body, and spirit.
I joined the cross-country team because I wanted to be able to run 15 miles.
I learned to speak fluent French in spite of everyone around me telling me to learn Spanish. “It’s just more practical,” I hear more times than I cared to count.
I studied in West Africa the winter after 9-11 despite concerns from my parents and friends that it a bad idea to live in a Muslim country.
I packed my car and drove to the Cascade Mountains of Washington for a 2-month internship, again in spite of expressions of uncertainty from the aforementioned community.
I married a passionate birder.
I started a PhD program.
I met a librarian.
I moved to Alaska.
I left a passionate birder.
I moved to Massachusetts.
I started my own business.
I left a permanent job with the government.
I moved in with a librarian.
These are but a few of the “path less traveled” choices I have made in my life. I sometimes feel fear and trepidation at the start, but there is generally a voice deep down urging me to follow my heart.
It is this same voice that speaks to me now, quietly and calmly assuaging my fears.
I sat in a circle of women on a wooden floor. Thin curtains billowed in the evening breeze. Engines revved on a nearby road.
We closed our eyes and held our hands to our hearts.
Three times chanting the word “om” on exhale. I could feel a powerful vibration in my lips and chest as I let the sound and breath leave my lips.
And then the words from our teacher, “there is a reason you are here now.”
Her words brought me back to a small classroom on a college campus just blocks from where I was currently sitting, where a teacher had shared those same words to a classroom of anxious, wide-eyed doctoral students many years ago.
“There is a reason you are here. It was no accident that we accepted you into this program.”
Those words brought home and a tiny flicker of confidence into my heart. I felt a sense of belonging.
Perhaps, this is part of what I am searching for now, a renewed sense of belonging, and a chance to grow. The more aware of my own Self and the better I am able to take care of this Self, the more open and available I will be for other people and beings in need.