Miracle Grow for the soul…1 year anniversary.
In the beginning of his book, “The Four Desires”, Rod Stryker discusses something very special… seeds. He talks about the miracle of the sunflower seed. How it is planted and how it intuitively knows that is it growing to be a sunflower, it grows roots to retrieve the water, and it bends toward the light. A lesson we perhaps learned in freshman biology, but mystical non the less. How does this tiny seed know what to do? Rod believes that people are also born with the same intuition, to grow into something specific, their very own flower if you will. The problem is we don’t know how to follow our hearts, our “true” paths… My practice with yoga has been about trying to tune into my inner self, to grow into the flower I am supposed to be.
I quit my job in Beijing in June of 2011. June. That’s 15 months (so far) of funemployment. At that time I had little idea of what I would DO with my life or where I would go, with who, etc. As I struggled with the big idea of WHAT TO DO, a teacher of mine told me the simple solution was…. to talk to trees. Simple really. She told me that I didn’t have to DO anything but to show up for my life with open eyes and to seriously, talk to trees. Since that time it has literally been a whirlwind of adventure. I luckily tuned into a faint signal in my gut and signed up for a yoga teacher training in Bali. This small step was the major catalyst for a HUGE turning point in my life.
A year ago today September 15th, 2012, (Can you believe it? A YEAR!?) we were just finishing up our yoga teacher training in Bali, Indonesia. This experience pushed us gently further down the yogic path, it inspired us to do more, but most importantly, I think… it taught us to be ourselves and follow our hearts. To grow into the person we were meant to be.
The training began with the introductions, everyone meekly introducing their partner; Elise and I were together ;). Next we sat and listened to Sunny (our gorgeous Australian, surfer chick instructor) talk to us about seeds. Perhaps a cheesy metaphorical exercise, but invaluable to me. Since that time I have taken the growing seed metaphor pretty seriously, I mean, we ARE seeds, constantly growing in the direction we choose to follow. Sunny asked us to envision our own seed. The seed of what we wanted…in our hearts, our lives, perhaps our spirits? She asked us to picture its colors, its texture, perhaps even its content. Then we silently walked down to the beach as the sun set and planted our imaginary seeds in the sand. For me, in many ways, this was the beginning for me. Little did I know at the time how much the planting of this seed would impact me during the month-long training, and far beyond.
During the next month we got up early every day, catching many sun rises on the beach, in order to make each day as full as possible. We ate the most yummy Ayurvedic food thanks to the wonderful staff at Villa Serenity. Together we sat and listened to Peter teach us about hip circles, monkey mind, and BREATH. He taught us to think happy thoughts before bedtime and to make our cells happy at an intrinsic level… we are what we think… We took private lessons with him as he critiqued our posture and the way we walked. He taught me to walk like a princess and he told me he wished I saw myself as others did.
It was the night after my private lesson with Peter that our dear friend and sister Katie died. I know that this period was perhaps the most transformative of my life to date. Losing her so suddenly while in the midst of spiritual giants offered me a huge opportunity to begin grappling with Abhinivesa one of the five afflictions as sated in the eight-limb path of yoga. Abhinivesa is the fear of death, or the non-acceptance of the notion that our bodies are but a temple, home to our spirit. With the passing of Katie, I was devastated. Peter talked to me about his personal experiences with death as the Santosha family comforted me. I spent a day or so in total tears and once I’d totally exhausted myself I headed back upstairs to lectures. To my surprise it was massage time and my friends at Santosha let me rest while I was a practice dummy for the massages. I was a five-pointed star with someone on each hand and foot loving on me. I felt so loved and nurtured at a time my heart was broken.
After this time I believe I started to see people’s heart light shine brighter. Mark led us through a beautiful ceremony for Katie on the beach and I began the process of letting her go. This lesson was perhaps the most advanced during my time practicing yoga so far. Hammering in the idea that we take care of our bodies with asana because they are the temples for our spirits, but they don’t last forever. At the same time I was building life long relationships with the other students there. I had the honor of becoming truly close with some BEAUTIFUL spirits. Another lesson here? When things in our lives leave us, others will come…
Needless to say this lesson combined with many others went way beyond what I had anticipated. The time we spent together at Villa Serenity under the love and guidance from all of our teachers was a true blessing. From the very start to the final day when during my yoga teaching “test”, I told my students to “breath through your clavicles”… inducing a fit of laughter…it was lighthearted, eye-opening, and simply… a life changing experience.
In the past year some of us have opened up yoga studios in all over the world…Canada, Australia, Hawaii, Japan. We have quit our jobs (some of us) and taken giant leaps of faith. We have all taken something away from Santosha at Villa Serenity that will stay with us forever. My own path has continued to surprise me. After spending 3 months in Mexico teaching yoga, we have continued to travel and to practice. On September 28th I head to India with my partner Ross, to study yoga for 10 weeks.
In retrospect, looking back at the time in Bali with the Santosha family, I can’t help but smile at the miracle the experience was. Before going to Bali, I didn’t know what to DO with my life and then found myself in the perfect place to start figuring it out. In all honesty, I have no idea WHAT seed I actually planted there. All it was, was an intention. An intention to follow the signs. To be light-hearted. To learn. The intention in the sand, was simply the intention to grow… This was all I needed at the time and it still suffices today. I think this is what WE ALL need. Intention.
To keep the metaphor going, I know that with the proper nutrition and guidance…my seed will continue to grow through another changing of seasons. As I head to India to study, I don’t have any idea about what to expect. Except for that it guarantees to be another launch deeper into my practice. Most certainly more miracle grow for my soul. This kind of scares me. Based on my experiences thus far, “growing” isn’t always easy. I would love to hear what my Santosha sisters and brothers are up to… How are your seeds doing!? Please share what has gone on with you the last year and what comes next? LOVE LOVE LOVE to you all and THANK YOU to our teachers…