Saturday, November 19, 2011

Practicing yoga off the mat and in the moment...

In the wee hours of last Saturday morning, I awoke from my sleep and placed my foot down on the carpet. Squish. Water everywhere. I had started a load of laundry around 8:30pm or so, then lay down on the couch and fell asleep. During those four or so hours, something happened with the plumbing or the washer so that the water never stopped running and ended up seeping to almost every corner of our one-story duplex. For a moment I froze in shock, then rajasic mind kicked in and I started freaking out about everything that needed to be done: first, this water needed to be stopped, then it needed to be cleaned up, I would have to call my landlord and break the news to him, and I would have to find a way to pay for it all. And I just quit my very secure, full-time job at UNC to pursue teaching yoga full-time. Then tamasic mind kicked in: "What's the use of even doing anything? This is such a disaster. I'll never be able to handle it." I was frozen again. For at least an hour, my mind bounced from rajas (overly active, anxious, tumultuous, frenetic) to tamas (inertia, gloomy, sluggish, dark, hopeless). Then I remembered yoga. The main reason I practice yoga is to cultivate more peace, kindness, and love in my life and to share that with others. I needed sattva mind (clarity, purity, calm, centered), so I took some deep breaths, Googled "how to clean up water damage", called my landlord, and called a great company called Disaster One who came right over to begin cleanup immediately (at 3:00am). I'm not going to pretend everything was all rainbows and butterflies after that, but I did keep coming back to my breath (almost) every time anxiety about money or attachment to objects would arise.
This was a great gift of remembrance from the Universe that I am not in control of anything, and using my energy to try to be in control is pointless. Rather, I should surrender (isvara pranidhana) to the moment, just as it is given, and bow to it as my holy teacher. This is not an easy practice, but yoga is not easy. It requires tapas (burning effort), abhyasa (practice), and vairagya (non-attachment) in addition to surrender (isvara pranidhana) to work with the qualities of rajas and tamas that are inherent to the structure of our mind and to cultivare more of the quality sattva.
Once I began to remember that the Universe is unfolding exactly as it should, I was able to dwell in a place of gratitude for my dear friends who offered me places to stay, made me food, and listened to me as I worked through the situation. The members of my yoga community at Open Heart Yoga School and Triangle Yoga have been amazing through this experience. Special thanks to Andrea for subbing Lil' Asana while I was freaking out and in shock; Caroline, who made me dinner and dropped it off at the studio while I was teaching; Andrea & Rob, Katherine, Amanda, Caroline, Eileen, Krystal, and my dear teacher Allison for offering me housing; and Katie, Tom, Maureen, Danielle, Julia, Krystal, Mafe, Tracy, Mom, my brother Michael, my sister Robin, and so many others for their kind words, prayers, love, and encouragement. I love you all dearly.
As is turns out, my renter's insurance (MetLife) has put me up in a sweet little townhouse a few blocks away from Triangle Yoga, where I teach most of my classes. Their adjusters have been kind and helpful, and I am confident that I will have everything I need when I return home. My landlord has even agreed to get me laminate flooring instead of nasty carpet!
All is well.

“…feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
― Pema Chödrön

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