Something worth having is worth working for.
Last week, after teaching one of my mid-week classes at the local gym, populated by wide-eyed, slightly daydreaming students, along with several more committed regular folk, a dedicated young man came up to me to share the results of his home practice. For a while now we have been focusing on the heart space, taking time to soften into and to listen to the secrets and quiet wisdom our hearts hold, and holding that awareness as an anchor as we move through our practice for that session.
This student had been working with this at home and he shared with me two pieces of insight that had arisen for him. Firstly, after some time, he had begun to”‘feel” more at his heart when he gave permission for his attention simply to rest here, and he realized he was feeling, what he describes as, sadness. Secondly, and here is where I bowed in respect to his words, he wasn’t about to freak out about this tricky and sometimes uncomfortable finding. In fact, he remained an impartial witness to the emotion that had arisen, trusting as he softened to just be with and accept his experience.
Hallelujah I thought! He gets it!!
Now, am sure that it doesn’t take a savvy eye for marketing to realize that mentioning that in order for the student to obtain some form of nirvana, he needs to trawl the depths of those icky patches of his ego. To be able to hold up in delight the most sparkling and dazzling diamond, means many, many (and many more) hours of digging through dirt. A lot of it! And it’s messy, and gets under your nails!! The simple truth is that, sorry folks, there’s no way round, or shortcut. So roll up those sleeves and start getting those hands dirty!
Those of you looking for a quick fix, and an instant cure all, all in less than a few hours’ worth of mat time had better search elsewhere (oh and by the way, if you find it please do let me know!). Clearing the way to make our soul shine in the world, and live out the fullest potential that we hold within means that we have to face ourselves. We must face all that has been stored, locked away, denied and resisted over the years.
Okay, okay, so am not really selling this yoga malarkey very well am I? Well, that’s kinda the point to be honest. Yes, yoga’s popularity has soared beyond belief over the last ten years, and in a way that’s great. But, touching deeper than the ‘jeez my body feels soo much better after a good stretch/ vigorous workout/ boil of the bones Bikram session, and the obvious lift of our spirit and endorphin feel good boost, lies the secret of what yoga offers us. Even though what arises may sometimes, be painful, challenging, uncomfortable and tender—the extraordinary gift of yoga is the gift of feeling alive!
To be alive is more than lungs expanding and contracting, heart beating its drumbeat, and a cyclone of synapses whirling into thoughts.
As we deepen our practice, and deepen the commitment to stay with what arises, with compassion, we meet our self, and our heart, possibly in truth for the first time in our precious lives. We become familiar with the obstacles Patanjali mentions, that block our path, our flow, that arise essentially from the ignorance of our small self, from fear, anger, or confusion. To stay with this all, as it shifts and shakes and moves through us, takes courage.
The reward? As the dust finally settles, it’s the clarity of a heart wide open, the true feeling of joy resting as a wondrous blanket under all that life throws up (sometimes quite literally!).
Maybe it’s best not to tell the tentative new student this, or add this detail at the bottom of your fliers! Those that tread the path deeper, into the forest of wisdom, will find their own courage, in their own way, in their own time, to say ‘yes!’ to feeling alive.
Prepared by Aminda Courtwright/Editor: Kate Bartolotta.
Heidi Chadwick has been teaching yoga in and around Manchester, UK since 2000. Her style is mainly hatha and vinyasa flow inspired by the teachings and wisdom of Danna Farhi, Dan Stapleton, Sarah Powers and the shamanic influence of 5 rhythms practice. She writes, muses and blogs about the little things; you know the ol’ delicacy of life, art, healing and modern yogic living. Recently she has contributed articles for Conscious Dancer magazine , and the British yoga magazine “Yoga and Health” .You can also find her, follow her and learn more about her at her blog site “Alchemy of the Arts“. In addition to writing she has been facilitating yoga and creativity workshops and retreats since 2004. Her offerings combine yoga, meditation, dance, art-making, journaling and rituals. Truly and passionately she deeply loves offering permission for folk to play, get messy and relish in not having to get it “perfect”. Deepening our connection to creativity, deepens our ability to engage in a life lived creatively!