“People who believe they are victims get to be right. Each experience they have convinces them of that. They don’t open themselves to the lessons, the growth, and the beauty of each situation they encounter. People who believe they have powers get to be right too. Although we know there is much in life we can’t control, we also know we have the power to think, to feel, to choose, and to take responsibility for ourselves and our lives. We see life’s beauty, gifts and lessons and its mysterious and sometimes magical nature.” - Melody Beattie, Journey to the Heart
As many of you know, I have had some real, tangible, mortal life dilemmas to face in the past year. While I was going thru my cancer treatment I was able to put one foot in front of the other and stay present and much of the time have a very positive outlook. When treatment ended, I fell apart. No longer having something to actively “do” meant facing all the emotion I set aside so I could survive going through the surgeries and treatments. There were other major life events happening in my family during this time as well, all of which would have been a lot to handle one at a time, but they all happened together and it was a very challenging time. In spite of the spiritual practice and work I have done over the years, I am realizing that I have started to see everything that happens to me, both incidental and significant things, through the mental prism of “why me?” All of this has added up to me living in a state of victim-consciousness. I recognize that I have allowed this feeling to take over my life and I know it’s time to make a change. My teacher Todd calls this the move from Shit Happens to Shift Happens.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel all our emotions, including anger, fear, grief and despair. These are normal human responses to tragedy or difficulties in our lives and need to be felt. They are not “negative”, even though they don’t feel so great when you’re experiencing them. If it means calling your sister for the 100th time to moan about it, or taking a 30-minute shower so you can cry long enough for the water to wash away the evidence, or curling up in bed early and letting the dark envelop you and nurture your wounds, let it happen. Do those things, give in to the feeling of the moment and let yourself be in the wilderness. But then actively seek the path that leads you out of it. It’s so easy to stay in that space of scarcity where it looks like everything is a personal affront, but it is such a miserable place to be.
Personally, I am trying to take a step back as often as I can. I recognize that this all will pass, that a year from now my life will look totally different. There will be a new normal, and if I am willing to accept it, I know I will be able to find more joy. I can use my power to continue to create meaning out of the shit hand I’ve been dealt for the time being. Because really, what’s the alternative? I’m particularly fortunate to have family and friends who call me out when I have spent too much time sitting on my pity pot and help me see that it’s time to move on. If you can’t look in the mirror and recognize that for yourself, these friends are so crucial. You may want to punch them in the teeth from time to time, but you’ll be grateful later.
We choose some journeys in life, and others choose us. One of my favorite sayings in Sanskrit is “Ya drishti sa srishti”, which means “As your vision is, so is creation.” or in other words "The world is as you see it.” When we shift our vision, the scenery changes. We are powerful beings. When we see our power to think, to feel, to choose and to take responsibility for our lives, the world opens up to us and we become free to choose our experience. Either way, when we open up to a higher power and connect to it, we make more uplifting choices, ones that lead to more freedom, contentment, and vitality. We open to the inherent power of the Universe and it inspires awe at the vast power available to us and how we want to engage with and use that power.
Off the Mat:
Notice what activities help you to connect to your higher power. Yoga, meditation, listening to music, being in nature, being with loved ones, reading, journaling, cooking…there are as many ways as there are people. Pay attention throughout your day to the happenings that elicit contentment, joy, and love in you, and then plan those activities into every day. They are the path out of the wilderness.
On the Mat:
In my classes this week we worked on poses and actions that helped us to feel powerful. Pressing into deeper versions of lunges and warrior poses, using the bend of the front knee and the extension of the back leg to move us towards Eka Pada Bakasana I (in advanced classes). We also worked caturanga dandasana as a way to connect to and cultivate power and strength.
For the Anusara Junkies:
Open to Grace: Open to a deeper breath and open up to the flow of Shakti in the universe, the power of creation that moves through you.
Feel the power of the Universe that is yours to harness as it moves through you in the form of your breath.
Connect to your breath to connect to a higher power that is both in you and beyond you.
Open to your own power to choose the best thought in any situation.
Muscular Energy: Tone your muscles and engage with your power in a way that elevates you and brings ease and joy to your life.
Draw from insertion to origin engaging mindfully and meaningfully with purpose.
Draw energetically from far ends of victimhood to the seat of your power (in the FP).
Firm muscles and harness your authority to make uplifting choices.
Organic Energy: Send your power and influence out (from FP) to make positive change in the world.
Let your power radiate outwards to shine the light of awareness to the world.