I feel so blessed and grateful to be supporting my teachers and the AcroYoga practice at the Estes Park Yoga Journal Conference; surrounded by the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and so many amazing talented yoga peeps. The yoga, scenery, and hiking are simply amazing.
My friend and colleague, Amy and I, decided to depart for a hiking adventure late this afternoon with the lofty goal that we might go bouldering. We arrived as most other visitors were leaving. Geared up with some hot green tea in my Klean Kanteen and my five finger shoes we started walking up and up and up. The higher we went, the harder it was to walk and talk at the same time; and the more tempting each subsequent vista became, beckoning us to stop and soak in the scenery, the changing aspens in the late day light.
We found our destination, and it felt as if we had deliberately stumbled on a land before time. The rocky landscape felt exquisitely ancient and the trees felt more wise than others I had met. Maybe it had not been so wise to venture out so late in the day, but we delighted in the solitude as the lakes, mountains, trees and boulders seemed to exist for our appreciation alone.
Hours upon hours of asana practice and theory, at the Conference, had left me feeling open; but now I felt satiated, nourished, grounded. I had needed a hike like this for months, as well as the camaraderie and discussion of my hiking companion.
So healing, nourishing, relaxing and inspiring.
It was a reminder about what I need to take care of myself.
“If you do not understand that life exists to challenge you with every breath, you do not understand living. If you do not challenge your life yourself, somebody will challenge it. ”
In this I find relief, comfort and gratitude.
I have been trying to juggle an existence between hustling to get myself feeling established in my new home city, and trying to chill out by enjoying the beautiful diversity of trees, Santa Ynez Mountains towering above as the clouds clear, the Pacific ocean not too far away, and delicious meals with new friends. The days pass by and the balance feels so precarious to maintain, and sometimes absolutely elusive.
I haven’t made a big move in many years and it slipped from my mind that it is stressful to leave the comfort of known family and friends, established work relationships, and even familiar geography. As I am trying to hold space for the feelings that such a large life transition can entail, little obstacles appear under foot almost daily. Small perceived injustices grow in size, and shape in my consciousness. Every inconvenience can feel like the universe possibly has a personal vendetta against my current vulnerability, winding my emotional spring tighter.
In exasperation, I picked up Nischala Joy Devi’s book The Secret Power of Yoga and opened it to a random page with the hope of finding some comfort or illumination. This is what I found: “When presented with disquieting thoughts or feelings cultivate an opposite elevated attitude. This is pratipaksha bhavana.” (Yoga Sutra II.33). I felt simultaneous gratitude (illumination sure enough), frustration (how would this be possible?), relief (this was a suggestion to try), confusion (again, how would this be possible) and finally curiosity (i can just try it).
I suddenly realized I was making things harder for myself specifically by sharing in conversations with loved ones about minor discomforts. It is hard to not blame someone when things are going exactly the way we might like. It boiled down to gossip on occasion. I was concentrating through thought and conversation on what was not working, and inevitably, if only in my mind transgressions grew worse.
In the last week, every time I felt like someone was negatively affecting my life, I would simply hold a little space (however tiny it is), to question if this Sutra could apply. And so far, new perspectives that are changing the way I can approach and literally feel about uncomfortable situations, are opening up to me spaciously and graciously. It is work, and I am still struggling, but a little more easefully and joyfully so.