Last week I, along with two brilliant women, led a week long yoga retreat in Mexico. The first day we sat together in a circle and I said “I’ve seen us together like this many times, I’ve put all your names on a piece of paper and meditated on our time together. In my final meditation I wrote the word that kept coming to me on that same piece of paper. It says ‘may we all heal’.”
I do believe that our work on the mat and on the meditation cushion has the potential to be the healing of the world. I believe that we have been called in a way to commit to our practice, to show up bigger, to gain compassion first for ourselves and then carry this out into the world.
We got up from our welcome circle, went to our mats for the first yoga class of the week and mid way through the practice I had lost my voice. As a yoga instructor who has an affinity for words it’s been a common condition throughout my career. However, in the past I’ve always known it to coincide with times that I have felt victimized by my circumstances or believed I was being wronged in some way. As Caroline Myss would say the area of the throat (the fifth chakra) is the space where you “surrender personal will to divine will”. The space that symbolizes that you trust in where you stand regardless of what’s going on around you. So I thought it a little odd at this point in time it was reappearing. I mean, I really felt like “I’ve got this, I’ve got life handled”.
The retreat went on and each day the students showed up for yoga despite my raspy voice, they showed up for meditation, they showed up for crystal healing, they showed up to raise their vibration through the sounds of the singing bowls, they showed up to pray, they showed for themselves and they showed up for one another. As I watched this commitment they were making to be open and receptive to whatever we offered them I also noticed that each day someone gifted me something, be it cold medicine, cough drops, wellness pills, echinacea, their time slot for a massage or secretly putting extra padding on my bed I had no choice but to be open and receptive to these gifts.
About three days in it hit me. A mentor of mine had recently told me that I needed to open the place inside of me that was willing to receive support. I had said “OK” and sat for days with my palms open reciting her words of “show me, open me to the place within that is willing to receive support on all levels, spiritually, materially, mentally, emotionally”. And because our intentions rarely show up the way we have planned losing my voice I realized was the Universe’s way of showing me how I was still blocking this support. Although I want desperately to open to this place within there is still a part of me that doesn’t believe that I am worthy of it. I still hold this tiny grip on the idea that if I only did more then I would be deserving. If I was kinder or volunteered more or meditated longer. . . my worthiness in fully accepting this support in just an arms length away or for others more honorable.
I watched how I’ve been handling life. Rather than than trusting in the flow of the Universe I was still turning my boat upstream and paddling as hard as could toward my intentions. Not trusting that the Universe will get me where I want to go.
I saw clearly that I wasn’t loving all the parts of me.
“May we heal.” was my intention for the group. But I was forced to face what the premise of this practice says. You are already whole, already worthy, the light has already come, it is you, you are it. As the week unfolded I realized that this wasn’t about our healing but rather about our allowing. Befriending the unruly parts of ourselves that we wished were different, allowing all the shattered pieces that create the beauty of the whole. Allowing who it is that we already are; worthy, deserving, whole. Each and every one of us. As Pema Chodron says “It’s as if we had looked around to find what would be the greatest wealth that we could possibly possess in order to lead a decent, good, completely fulfilling, energetic, inspired life and we found it all right here”.