I have thousands of stories but these two are my lessons today.
One: My long-time yoga teacher John Friend made some poor life choices that forced him to resign and dispersed the community that he had built for 15 years. It was a beautiful fun loving yoga community that spread messages of compassion and abundance throughout the world. His message of grace guided many of us – myself included. Now what? There is shame and embarrassment. Many people’s lives are changed as they have identified themselves as an Anusara yoga teachers. They relied on a person to guide them and he disappointed them. He lost his way and hurt so many people. There is deep personal questioning of the integrity of our own lives, and this may be my John’s final gift to the community. Sadly, the party is over, even if all of the guests haven’t left. Maybe.
Two: As my close friends know, I divorced a few years ago. Post divorce, I was the usual devastated but also excited. I vacillated from teary and sad for my children, scared about my financial future to hopefully optimistic about reaffirming love in my life. I was filled with a wide array of emotions and some feeling I could not identify: Shameful of the failure and angry, angry, angry.
Some days, the immense gratitude of having a second chance at love would hit me. There was sweetness as my children shifted. They went from the pain to acceptance… so much to be grateful about in this process. My yoga practice and long hikes with dear friends sustained me.
I can not forget the humor in the learning process of how to be on my own. Screaming as I scooped the dead mouse from the pool, changing light bulbs on a very tall ladder. Buying my first car… what a fiasco. There were so many small growth experiences that reminded me that I am never alone in this world.
The new part of the struggle is to get with the life that is NOW being offered.
It’s a bit scary and I am reminded of my mentor and teacher Douglas Brooks’ words, “Fear can be a constructive experience when we learn not to deny or repress, and understand its role in empowering experience. There is no courage without some important element of fear to empower the heroic act. My teacher called this process “radical affirmation.”
Divorce or loss and disappointment are not heroic, but staying open in the midst of deep challenges calls for courage, strength and radical affirmation.
I was blessed with meeting hundreds of yoga friends five times a year at gatherings around the world, reconnecting to wonderful spirits that lived far, with diverse life styles and backgrounds. Together, we had so much juice and lust for living. Interesting conversations and shared heart experiences… music and bonfires and laughter and inspiration to live life fully.
And in my home life I was blessed with skiing every winter weekend with great friends and my three beautiful children. I was fortunate to be able to travel with families to beaches and relax on vacations. My home was welcoming and comfortable and usually filled with lots of children and good food. It was a good life.
Sadly, I am not growing old with the father of my children, nor will we visit the grandkids together. Holiday dinners are missing an element of ease and the “more the merrier” feeling.
I have altered my dreams that I envisioned as my future for so many years. I have rewritten the story with joyful moments to look forward with hope.
There are necessary losses for growth
Life approaches in waves –larhari. It can bathe you in the ocean. It can flood you. Or it can hit you like a tidal wave.
The current is grace …it can hold you or carry you or carry you away. Getting on board is a choice, like everything in this free and magical world.
And so, what I’ve learned that I’d like to share with other BA50s:
The assets of our life are not the things we get to take with us into our new lives, but the wisdom of compassion and the ability to get on board with our new lives.
Divorce is just one change. Children grow up, dear friends move, spouses die or get ill. Careers that defined us end. Life moves on in ways that force us to change on one level and define us in new ways. People inspire us to grow. Loved ones disappoint. Friends get stuck and we move on. Love deepens and years go by, love shifts and relationships change. The next chapter will not look like the past chapters. But that’s ok. There’s always something new on the next page.
The universe offers us opportunities to step into the fear and recognize our own courage. Chaos can be a creative time.
It is growth. We choose how to mend, heal, and how to find the light in the darkness. We choose to some days put one foot in front of the other just to make it through the day. We laugh or cry or both. We choose to stay open to the possibilities, new experiences, new friends and love. We step more fully into ourselves as the story we chose to write IS our life.