Lately I have felt so balanced, peaceful and centered.
It happens to me every year when I visit Satchidananda Ashram to assist my teacher, Jnani, with a training in which we teach yoga to people who have cancer. The ashram is quiet, the food is healthy and the sounds of civilization are minimal. Based on the pictures I have shown him, my husband describes the grounds as something like a Seventh-Day Adventist commune. It is truly one of my favorite places to visit. It forces me to see my life through different eyes and helps me let go of some of my desires and attachments.
I have been back in Indiana for almost two weeks now and was wondering why I have nothing to write about. There is no drama in my life, no need for drowning my sorrows in a bottle of wine or Guinness stout. The love-life is going well; plenty of time with the kids lately; yoga businesses and programs are running smoothly. Check…check…check.
I know that my external environment hasn’t changed, so it has to be an internal shift. Maybe it is the result of that intense meditation at lotus shrine, or the week of organic vegetables, decaf tea and pranayama (breathing practices).
If this is what santosha (contentment) is, I don’t want it. I am bored. Where are the lessons in tranquility? After all, I came to this world to learn something!
Just the other day, I was watching the story of Pinnochio with my two girls. I was going to do the lazy mother thing: put it on for them and then sneak away to get some “me” time. But I couldn’t tear myself away from the English dubbed French version of the film. I loved analyzing the similarities between Pinnochio and our own humanness. No matter how hard he tried to do the right thing, he was always drawn toward disaster because of his desires or laziness. Thankfully, the Blue Fairy would always come to the rescue and remove the obstacles that the wooden-headed puppet had gotten himself into (kind of like Ganesha is for us yogis).
Once Pinnochio finally learned the error of his ways he was transformed into a real live boy. Moksha! Then the movie was over. Why? Because it would have been pretty damn boring if it continued on. That’s why.
This week I have had to ask myself why I have always been striving to be such a “good girl” when my own contentedness has made me so bored.
It started back in second grade grade when I received my first and only D throughout my school years. I received a D in Self Control, because I was feeling so ecstatic and grateful to be alive that I stood up on my desk. I remember my confusion and outrage when I saw that report card. “Self Control isn’t a subject,” I thought. “How can we get graded on that?” What that teacher was really doing was stifling my creativity.
Lady Gaga got to where she is today because she was encouraged to stand on desks and cause an uprising.
This is where all creativity and greatness comes from. Seeing that D at age seven and having already decided to become a “people pleaser” earlier that year, which I am now recovering from, led me to become an introvert. I was afraid to try anything new or outside my box, for fear I may rate poorly on the “self control” scale of life. I know this has happened to many of us. If not from Ms. Paulsrude, from our pastors, priests or even our parents. In fact, it is probably why many of us have began the self-study of yoga.
We need a system of figuring out how to get control of that little self that wants to stand up tall and shout out to the world, “I feel larger than life!” Finally, I have gained some control over my thoughts, my words and my wooden-headed actions upon my wooden desk. I have gained some control over my passions towards chocolate, vino and love. Thankfully, I am human and I know this won’t last!
One thing Jnani said was, “All you good girls don’t sit with your legs crossed.” It is bad for the lymphatic system. Some of our social norms are just bad for our health. When they stifle the flow in our bodies, our hearts and especially our creativity, then it is time to take a stand on your own wooden desk. As a wise one once said, “The creative adult is the child who has survived.” ________________________________________________________________________________________________
Dani McGuire is a yoga teacher and asana-addict who loves love, life, family, food, God and, of course, yoga. “Since I am unable to quiet the mental chatter and control thirst for earthly pleasures I live, write, and laugh and my humanness.”