Some of you may know that I am currently on Yoga Teacher Training retreat in Koh Samui with my teacher Tiffany Cruikshank. The module we're studying is Meditation and Yin Yoga. I chose this module specifically because I am fascinated about the affects of meditation and want to learn all I can about it to translate this into becoming an amazing teacher for my students. Little did I know that this would be a game changer for me.
Some of you maybe also know that I suffer from two autoimmune illnesses and have been struggling with Graves disease and all its shitty manifestations for a while now. The idea of choosing this module for training was to not only help my students but really, to help me learn how to heal. I've researched the crap out of Graves disease and although I know I have to work seriously hard on getting my gut back into the best shape ever, I honestly and truly believe that its my mind that will be the medicine.
We've been studying the latest research and methods of meditation and Yin Yoga and putting them into practice each morning and afternoon and today, I had the most profound experience I have had in my meditation practice and I have been practising for 8 years. As Tiffany guided us through our evening Yin class focusing on the metal element, that ability to let go of control and order, to let go of protecting ourselves and others and to be supported: we held asanas that targeted our Lung and Large Intestine meridians ( thats a whole other blog post coming). These asanas focused on opening up our chest and pectoral muscles and also back of our lungs and arms, When we finished Savasnana, we ended with our usual 30 minute meditation.
Woah- if only I knew what was about to hit me. We began a visualisation of letting go of what was weighing us down. I instantly knew what I had to let shift. The past 2 years ( well lets be honest here) the past 7 years in my life have been somewhat intense to say the least. After the death of my dad suddenly from a stroke in 2008, my health rapidly deteriorated. Not that you would know it. On the outside, I looked perfectly healthy. About the right weight, I'm happy, all my bloods are normal - everything said I should be healthy. Since then I have struggled each day,I've pushed through, like we're taught to do, i've manned up and battled through anxiety, panic attacks, depression, chronic fatigue and pain, but most of all, I battled the feeling of complete detachment from my body. There have been brief moments within those months of feeling more like me, when the light shone into my world, but its been a challenge. Not only for me but for my beautiful and devoted husband, Mike , who has carried me through this struggle. During 2011, I began to feel a shift again, And then in later 2014 I was diagnosed with Graves disease ( after two traumatic events as a park ranger at Kings Canyon) and my world and health cam crashing down again.
Fast forward now to this mediation this evening and this shitload of crap - this overwhelming sense of failure, grief, heaviness and sadness would not shift. it just wouldn't go. It resisted and pushed back. I kept going, i kept giving it the space to release away from my body and the pain in my right shoulder ( rhomboids to be exact) became intense. Excruciating in fact. Eventually, as Tiffany gently guided us through the release, she asked us to just let go of what no longer was needed. I felt a moment of lightness, levitation, call it what you will - that weightlessness that I experienced in my first ever yoga class happened and i began to cry. Tears streamed down my face and the pain in my right shoulder immediately just disappeared. just like that.
BEST. MEDITATION. EVER.
The amount of chronic stress that has accumulated in my body is immense and the response that my body has had to this is even worse than the trauma it has suffered in my short life. These last few days I have begun to find a light that I thought I might not ever find again. I have been feeling so helpless these last few years- thinking that my life was destined to be that of a sick person.
Now I know thats not my destiny. And I am ecstatic. I know I am meant to heal people by helping them heal them selves . And I cannot wait for my dream to become my reality.
In the meantime, if you don't meditate, then just stop making up excuses. JUST DO IT.
Meditation has the ability to transform you. It increases your ability to deal with stress, anxiety and grief and encourages neuro-plasticity. It gives every part of your body and mind and spirit a chance to heal. You have the power to change your physiology -thats right you do. So why would you not do it?
Try this simple meditation:
Create a space in your house or your bedroom. Light a candle, dim the lights and make your space your own. Set aside 5 or 10 minutes each day. Set a timer on your phone to remind you when you've finished. Sit quietly in a comfortable seated position or even upright in a chair. relax your shoulders, soften your jaw and gently close your eyes. Begin to become aware of your breath and sensations in your body that it creates. Follow your breath in and out. Sit like this for several more minutes. Just allowing yourself to be in the moment. With no judgement, or expectation, just to be.
Alright, so yes, I know, its been forever since I actually did anything with my blog and website and most of you have probably lost interest or thought i'd just given up. In fact, I kinda did think that too....
I have a habit of doing that - of having ideas and dreams, of thinking up amazing grand plans and then never actually following through. Or just losing interest and motivation, until finally I just kinda forget about it and think oh well, wasn't meant to be. And then I find anew idea and so on and so on.
This year has been tough, thats my excuse..... shit - who am I kidding the past 4 years have been tough...and I tend to dwell on that and let that energy drag me down, make me feel heavy and sad and then suddenly Ive lost my glow and I am back to square one AGAIN.
But is that really it? Nope, I don't think so, I think I was and still am, pretty fearful of living life to its fullest. I was scared, all the time, what if I'm a crap yoga teacher, what if I fail, what if i lose all our money, what if its the wrong decision.... You get the picture? I was letting this fear control me and scare me so shitless that I kinda half did stuff then would just stop it. Its what one of my favourite all time gals calls, "listening to your mean girl" ( Thanks Melissa Ambrosini for helping me work through this)
When I get like this, I tend to stop all those things that actually help me. Well the one thing really, thing. I stop yoga. I stop not just the physical practice but all the practice of yoga, the meditation, the service, the compassion, all of it And with each day as I lose a little of yoga, I lose a little bit of myself. Yep you heard me, yoga is what makes me , me. And when I lose me, i kinda stop doing all the things I love, stop cooking, stop having cups of tea with friends, stop calling family, stop connecting and stop my dreams of creating a blog, a website and a studio where people can come and find a little bit of themselves.
So, 6 months ago on a dream holiday with my soul mate, partner and husband, in Sri Lanka, we made a decision, we put fear aside and we decided to quit our jobs, I should mention here, our well paid, excellent conditions ( 7 weeks paid leave a year) stable and secure government jobs, to leave the desert and go find it. That things which makes you shine....That things that ignites your spirit as dear Rumi puts it. We spoke at length over Arak and Ginger beer on the beaches of Sth Sri lanka, ( for those of you familiar with Sri Lanka, you will know this Arak, it is sublime..) on the fort walls of Galle and in the lap pool under the frangipani and it all came down to one thing........I was scared as hell, that if we left, we would fail, but I was even more scared of staying, I was even more scared of staying in a job that was slowly destroying my health....so we left.
We packed our house up, put our dogs in the trailer, I made a weeks worth of Almond milk, green smoothie jars, mike did amazing manly things to the car and off we went into the unknown. We had made a conscious choice to go to Byron Bay - the meca of all things yoga, health, activism and bliss. We manifested farms with rolling green hills and wide verandhas, sitting with cups of chai and a yoga business where I could create and help others. We put put heart and soul into this dream. But it wasn't to be......It wasn't quite right.....
And therein lies the problem, we were pushing to much. Like a friend I spoke to last night put it, sometimes when you push, you get it pushed back. When you stop trying it just happens. And this is the thing.
We were working so hard at pushing, at dreaming at creating this life we wanted that the universe pushed back.......and thought to itself, hmmm, time for little lesson in life... listen to your heart, listen to your gut. Go to a place where you feel at home, where every time you fly over the harbour you get that amazing sense of peace.....where the air is warm and filled with the scent of frangipani and where people welcome you with open arms.....
So on a gut instinct, I rang a realesate agent in Darwin got a friend to inspect a house and four hours later we got a call to say we got it.....I spoke to a friend and got a yoga trial class in a studio and had the most amazing creative brainwave for my yoga pathway........That simple....Like Rumi said, " be like the trees and let the leaves drop". It all comes to you when you just let it all go. All is as its meant to be.
So farwell Byron Bay, farewell rolling green hills and glistening ocean, until a time when you call us back, these gypsies are off to Darwin, to return home to a place that loves us and embraces us with open arms, without judgement, and with love - (oh and a big whack of humidity for good measure)
So the dream has deviated little, changed course and traveled over 5000km but we won't let that stop us. The one thing that yoga has taught me to do is accept - accept this is where you need to be and be okay with that. Dont fight it or push it away or spend hours worrying about what if (in our case, god what if we'd just driven straight to Darwin) just be here now.
Stay well peeps, and remember to always follow your gut not matter how small that voice inside is, listen to it and follow it every step of the way, it may deviate a little, take you on a path that you can't understand but it will eventually lead you to where you are supposed to be. If you've got a spare moment, let me know about what sets your soul on fire, about what lights you up and about your journey that you're on, id love to hear more!