Week 10: Share My Path Series.
Within each of us is a voice; sometimes we choose to listen to it and other times we pretend it’s just another reverberation of the cacophony of life. I know, for me, ignoring it just makes the voice more creative in its ways of getting my attention.
For Dusty Ranft, it sent her exploring deeper into the woods of what would be her new path. And, as you’ll read below, lead her where she needed to go, reminding us all, again(!), that when the voice speaks we really should pay attention.
I’d spent the last eight years taking care of critically ill premature babies and was burnt out, fried and exhausted. I knew I needed to move on.
The job had called me; it was a calling. And I had served that calling with every ounce of my being. I gave it all: heart, sweat, tears and soul. Over time this calling became my career and honestly, all I knew. It was what I did, and I was damn good at it. But I was not happy.
Something had shifted inside. A new calling was emerging.
At the same time my yoga teaching was turning stale. My own practice suffered and was many times non-existent. I prayed, cried, slept, ate, contemplated taking the LSAT (oh sweet resistance)—you name it. I tried it all to figure out what I was supposed to do next.
I needed to get real. This was a desire that surfaced from the depths of my being. It was, at times, a small quiet whisper; other times my ears rung from the shrill screeching of my spirit begging me to listen.
I chose to listen and that has made all the difference.
~ Dusty’s written response to one of my follow-up questions
Dusty’s first formal experience with meditation came about during her advanced yoga teacher training. “It was such a struggle’” she told me. “I resisted with fierce determination and trickery.”
This battle with herself, a healthy occurrence, came as a surprise. She’d always wanted to learn or “be guided.” But here she sat “excited and intimidated.” As the bell rang, signaling the start of a 20 minute session, her mind spun.
“I thought way too hard about what I was supposed to be feeling,” she told me, “and found myself unable to stop listening to the shuffling of the person to my side. I was perpetually distracted.”
“I longed to sit in silence, a slight smirk upon my lips, feeling what I wasn’t sure, but everyone else seemed to be doing it, feeling it. Or were they? Were they struggling? Were their legs numb too?”
It was the advice of another student which finally made it all click.
Think about a cat that lurks around the house: sly and sneaky. The more you chase the cat trying to pet it, trying to hold it in your arms and cuddle it, the more the cat will avoid you. But, try sitting quietly; ignore the cat. You will find that the cat will come to you, brush up against your leg, purring, and asking to be held.
“I just had to give up the struggle,” Dusty said. “Realize there was nothing I needed to feel.”
I’m sure we all relate.
Moving forward we delved into Dusty’s practice as it has progressed. “It’s been a struggle,” she admits with honesty.
“I resisted sitting more than anything else I’d ever started. But in two years—filled with much not sitting—I’ve come to a practice I can call my own”
Dusty had to make a space, “carve out” an area for practice. And set a time that she “usually” sits. Forming this habit has allowed her to commit with less of the struggle.
Still, she’s not hard on herself. “If I miss a sit, I recognize it and just try and understand what it is that stops me; this can be so subtle and tricky.”
“You have to be kind to yourself,” she tells me, “both in life and meditation. The tendency is to judge yourself, but please don’t.”
That is great advice Dusty!
Working through the struggles, the questions, and the changes that life inevitably tosses our way, Dusty has found much benefit to her continued practice.
Buried in each of us are emotions we’d rather not recognize. Through her practice, Dusty has released these “transient flowing energetic waves of negativity.”
“I just feel more awake,” she tells me. “The voices in my head were loud and annoying. But we have a better understanding now: I’m nicer to them and in return they try and keep quiet.”
“Acceptance” is the lesson. In Dusty’s practice she’s learned, and wishes to share with all the Share My Path readers, that “it is what it is, so just let it go.”
Share My Path would love to feature your path! e-mail me.
Share My Path is an archival experiment seeking to build a repository of the paths taken by practitioners of meditation and is hosted here at elephant journal. If you’d like to have your path featured and made part of the archive please e-mail or find me here for more information. Your time will be rewarded in knowing you’ve shared with others and perhaps helped someone find their path.
Last weeks installment of Share My Path: The Ego as Passenger instead of Driver.
A list of all previous weeks: Share My Path
Like elephant journal Meditation on Facebook
Ed: Brianna Bemel