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January 30, 2019

Connecting the Dots (Part 5): How I Went from Being a San Francisco CFO to an Athens Yoga Instructor

This is part of a series called Connecting the Dots: How I Went from Being a San Francisco CFO to an Athens Yoga Instructor. The first installment is here.  Last week’s installment is here.

1.4-1.5 The Bumblebee Incident (Spring 2009)

Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training was not easy for me. It is puzzling because it certainly wasn’t the hardest thing I’ve done in my life. I’ve taken the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, I’ve swam 1.5 miles/2.4 km from Alcatraz to shore, I’ve paraglided solo off (small) mountains. But somehow, the training challenged me in a way I hadn’t experienced before.

It started off basic enough, but as we worked our way through the months, it became harder and harder for me to keep going. This was a surprise, because usually after I make a decision, that’s it. There is almost no internal dialogue about quitting. My total focus goes to getting the job done. Astrologers would say it’s because I was born Scorpio. Myself, I don’t know, but once I decide on something, it is like every cell in my body lines up behind that decision. Moving forward is easy. Quitting is not in my mind. Except in Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training-here my mind fought back.

During the week, I would put off my daily practice until the last possible moment before going to bed. On the weekends, while some people in my class would go to bed early to be fresh in the morning, I did the opposite. I’d stay out late at night drinking and dancing, and in the morning, I would struggle to get up. More than once I came to training tired and hungover, coffee in hand. I started to dread the training weekends and imagining reasons why I couldn’t go. I remember talking to Jessica, a classmate, asking “Why is this so difficult?” She said “I think our brains are changing. And it’s hard….” It was. I could almost feel the gray matter shift.

And then there was the Burning Man bumble bee incident. Burning Man is a week long music and art festival in the Nevada desert that falls around the Labor Day holiday. The experience is amazing, like Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome.  It’s wild, hedonistic, mind-expanding, and unlike anything I’ve experienced before or since. I started to going to Burning Man in 2000 and by 2008, I had gone eight times.

While the official event is just once a year, in San Francisco the scene is strong, and there are Burning Man parties year round. This I loved. And so one day, after returning from yoga teacher training, I was excited to see an email invitation from one of the theme camps. We were invited, in two weeks time, to dress as bumblebees and meet at a bar in the Mission to go bar hopping all Sunday long.

I was thrilled. My mind raced to how I could create a bumblebee outfit. And then seconds late, my mind stalled out. It said “What are you doing? There are real problems in the world. This is how you are going to spend your Sunday??” It was a shock, like an internal confusion. I literally stalled out in my thinking. It was a weird moment of transition. I wasn’t ready to leave that part of my life. But I wasn’t comfortable staying there either. It was confusing.

In the end, I didn’t go to the bumblebee bar hop.  And from that day forward, my attention started to turn from the party scene to other things. Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training finally started to get easier too. The end was in sight, and I regained my focus.

When I trace it back, the bumblebee incident was important. It was when two warring sides of my personality faced each other. I still like to party, even to this day. It is part of who I am. But I like to be introspective, reflective and disciplined too. And that was the moment when I started to find balance between the two. It was an important dot.

Next week:  1.5-1.6: A Festival in a Field in France.

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