I’ve been practicing yoga, meditating, and doing breathing exercises (pranayama) for decades, but I have to admit it – my commitment has been inconsistent. Like many yoga practitioners, I have felt the benefits, connecting my body, mind and heart in ways that nothing else can. So, why have I been inconsistent? And why would I consider taking a six-month, rigorous, yoga teacher training at this stage of my life? Good questions.
Although I have gone through periods when I eat well, exercise and do my yoga, meditation, and journal writing practices, I also go through times when I do none of them. I’ve practiced vegetarianism for ten years, I’ve given up drinking alcohol and cured myself of my shopaholic binging. So, why is a guy like me – a pretty disciplined guy – having trouble sticking with what obviously works? Another good question.
I used to think it was about accountability. And that’s true to an extent. But below the surface of doing or not doing are two seemingly opposing concepts: love and fear. In this life, we’re either expanding (love) or contracting (fear). We’re either thriving (love) or surviving (fear). We’re either jumping out of bed with joyful curiosity (love) or dreading what the day will bring (fear).
When I am in a state of fear – as I have been on and off since the pandemic began – I am suffering. I turn into a Victim, a person who doesn’t feel as if he possesses the energy, intelligence and passion to succeed. Oftentimes, it begins when early childhood trauma is retriggered. For me, that trauma was the abandonment I suffered when my father left us. The rug was pulled out from underneath my sense of safety and I felt as if I wasn’t worthy enough for him to stay.
My father’s departure crushed my spirit and it’s part of the reason I began to act out with my family, drink alcohol, experiment with drugs, and pay less attention to my schoolwork. Like many young people, I was skating on thin ice for a decade, but luckily I had a great mom, and supportive and intelligent teachers and my inner wisdom won out. I got better in my thirties. I’m still getting better thirty years later with good, heart-centered friends, a loving wife and the willingness to keep adventuring!
When I’m in a state of love, there’s every reason to believe that the world is a kind and beautiful place. I feel powerful and connected to nature, God, music and almost everyone I meet. In this state, I handle challenges with ease because I know that they are there to sharpen my sword, to teach me lessons and I just apply my skills to take care of business. I feel creative, collaborative and peaceful. In the tantric tradition, this is called “victorious”.
So, how do I move from the Victim to the Victorious? The answer has always been to wait patiently for the Universe’s plan to unfold and do no harm in the meantime. It’s part of my personality to fall down and get moody when I get retriggered. It always has been and, to some extent, always will be. But…when I can put one foot in front of the other, look around for clues and then jump when the opportunity comes – I’m golden.
And that’s what yoga teacher training feels like to me – a golden opportunity. I’ve met a great teacher, Todd Norian, and learned about his tantra path. It makes my heart sing. And so, it seems, I will be moving towards that goal. Beth and I still need to decide if NOW is the right time, but I’m optimistic. I’m excited and I think I have the opportunity to find love, again.