24th October 2014

As I draw nearer to the end of my journey here in Bali, I feel that things are escalating and accelerating; yet there is a great stillness and silence too.  Like the eye of a storm.  There have been so many incredible moments and breakthroughs but these past few days have been a rough ride for me.  It started with a dream.  A dream that was so powerful and vivid, that in waking its threatening presence was still there.  I tried to push it away but my body was frozen in fear.  I tried to cry out but my voice couldn’t climb beyond a stifled gasp.  I was tangled in the sagging mosquito net, and my skin was damp with sweat and trembling.  I was reliving something, and I found myself, in this paralytic and helpless state, calling on a loved one who has already passed to come back to me.  I needed his help…his protection.

I don’t know how long this state went on for, but eventually the cockerels began to crow, the light seeped in through the window, and the dream loosened its grip.  I stirred cautiously and stood under the drizzly, sometimes hot, shower for many breaths.  Eyes closed, thoughts racing.  I changed into my yoga clothes, filled up my water and continued on the path to the shala, hoping I’d bump into Boris.  I wanted to share with someone.  I was afraid to sit with it on my own.

Our paths didn’t cross, and the morning unfolded, as it normally does.  Students silently making their way to the shala, rolling out their mats, collecting bolsters, blocks and blankets, for passive stretching or meditation, waiting for Matthew to enter and lead us through the opening chant.  We chanted.  We did our pranayama, our meditation, and one by one we picked ourselves off of the floor unprompted and began our practices – Lion, Moon, Primary, Intermediate…whatever our bodies were calling out for.

I rarely know what my body wants until I open my eyes after meditation, but this day I was surprised by it being Primary/Intermediate.  I followed its will, hands raised up above my head counting out my breaths…1, 2, 3, 4, stumba, into Surynamaskara A and beyond.  Everything around me disappeared.  All I could hear was my breath.  All I could feel was the dream surging through me.

Frustration began to build as the integrity of the postures floundered, strength and steadiness escaped me.  I should stop.  Be kind to myself, put my legs up the wall – leave early.  It’s ok to do that…although people rarely ever do.  If it was easy I would feel so strong, forgetting that it is the difficulty of it that makes us stronger.

I swore my way through the marichyasanas, gritted my teeth in Bhujapidasana, and prayed that I would be left alone for Supta Kurmasana and Baddha konasana.  By the time I got to Pasasana, I looked down at my thighs.  They’re strong and rather large, and earlier in the week I’d really felt that I loved them just as they were…but in this moment – one towel draped over the left thigh for grip, another towel in my left hand to throw behind me for leverage – it felt impossible!  How will I ever get this?  My thighs are like mountains, and my arms are just normal length, and my hips aren’t open enough for such a deep twist, and my boobs get in the way…and you know – sometimes I find this hilarious and just try again and again anyway – just because that’s what you do in yoga, and I’ll smile to myself with acceptance and move on…but this day, in this moment…it broke me.  FUCK!!!  I fell back, and threw the props to one side.  Stumbled through to my final posture Laghu Vajrasana…a pose I love.  It’s tough as hell, and I’ve almost got it, and I get this rush every time I lift out of it, regardless if I make it or not…but this day….this moment…like the rest of my practice…I collapsed into it…gave up.

I didn’t really bother with the finishing postures, just found my way into an awkward lotus, and observed my shoulders slump, palms hang down, tears falling….the dream whirring through me still.  I wasn’t running away from it…it was there…no postures, or breathing, or observation was taking me away from it…and that’s exactly it….it’s not meant to.  The practice is about bringing us into contact with these things and allowing us to greet them, to meet them, to truly experience them…so that we can let them go.  Sometimes we can remain equanimous and be light in our observations…other times it sucks us in, drags us down…pummels us – and what do we do?  Sit there, and feel ashamed and guilty because we’re not strong enough or yogic enough to cope with it… Hope that no-one can see us, or hear our snuffles…  And then, when somebody does reach across, offer us an act of comfort and support – with a simple, spontaneous gesture…you feel a flicker of connection with those around you, and are reminded that this space is a nurturing space.  This practice is an intense practice – and everyone who’s in there with you knows how it feels to fall apart.

The story behind those moments isn’t so important.  Sometimes it’s just a bad day, and after some breakfast and a cup of tea things rebalance; other times it’s something deeper and longer-lasting.

What I’m starting to see is that whilst the intention of yoga and meditation is to be in the present; we still have our pasts to contend with.  I can see that my ability to remain present in the face of challenging situations is developing.  I can, from time to time: cry in the moment – without too much drama and get on with it; I can love in the moment and appreciate, without fear of loss, that it will change; I can grieve loss; sit with shame; embrace happiness without clinging on…but these are all recent developments and there’s a whole life behind me of shitty situations, and wonderful situations that I denied myself true expression.   So when we start to live in this way.  To be what we are, rather than what we should be, everything behind us begins to unravel.

I figure that it’s a time to be grateful.  We are being given a chance to finally make peace, and when you’re practicing steadily and consistently, like we have been these past few months – an inner-confidence and fire is ignited – it’s like the silence and stillness in the centre of me is strong enough to allow for this chaos.

Blog Picture Oct 23 2014