I recently O.K’d the last edit of my contribution to Stories From the Yogic Heart a collection of stories of how yoga has transformed one’s life and in writing my bio, I was confronted by an odd realization.
We tell ourselves stories of our life and for better or worse these stories begin to take on a life of their own and shape our lives with far broader implications than we could ever imagine.
For the longest time one of my stories has revolved around failure, specifically my failure to get to India to study yoga during a 10 year period from the mid ‘70’s to the mid 80’s.3 times I tried and 3 times I failed due to: poor timing, miscommunication, lack of funds, yada yada yada…the list goes on and on. I began studying and practicing in my teens, well before it became mainstream – just me (the weird kid) doing yoga in our family room. The only others I knew who did yoga were middle aged western women like Kareen and Lilias on T.V. and scantily-clad, double jointed East Indian men who appeared in books on the subject. If anyone was meant to study in India it was me, or so I thought.
In one of Alberto Villoldo’s books (I’m reading 3 books at the same time and 2 of them are his, so I don’t know which one this is from – either the Four Insights or the one on Soul Retrieval.) he says that the inability to reach ones goals is due to lack of commitment. And, that was true in this case. Bottom line, there was a lack of commitment on my part, not to yoga, nor to my practice (I loved my asana practice, still do.) but towards going to India where it all began.
For, you see, I took a Straight Walk workshop with Swami Radha around the same time that I was trying to get to India. And that, though I didn’t comprehend it at the time, changed everything because in her I’d found my spiritual teacher. Her practices took me to the depths of my soul right here in Canada and formed the foundation for my present practice, spiritual evolution, the work that I do now and the way I live my life.
I enjoyed a rich yoga life from my mid 20’s to mid 30’s. I had a dedicated asana practice. I studied multiple aspects of yoga with Swami Radha from the mid ‘70’s to the 80’s through workshops and during a 6 month residency at Yasodhara Ashram and I house-sat and lived at Shambhala House Victoria (now called a Radha House) on and off towards the end of my stay in Victoria.
During one workshop with Swami Radha I voiced frustration at my inability to “get it together” to achieve my goal of getting to India. A fellow yogi said that he observed sincerity in my practice and, as he saw it, “India” resided in my heart. He was the first to voice that my path was simply different from my hatha yoga mentor and peers, no more or less noble than any other aspirant on the spiritual path. I thought he was being kind, but in hearing his words of compassionate wisdom, my heart sang
As I wrote my bio the gratitude I felt towards Swami Radha and her work allowed me to realize that throughout my life, whenever I’ve thought about my evolution in yoga, despite evidence to the contrary, I focused on a story line of failure rather than one of success.
Realizing the impact that this story of failure has had on me and my life is a paradigm shifting experience; by altering the way I view my past, my experience of my present, future and even the past itself is being reshaped. And, I am experiencing a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual shift in my being that is infusing me with a new found energy and possibility.
What this has taught me is that when we seek new vantage points from which to view our life we realize that the past is malleable and memories of it are not cast in stone. Today I give myself permission to be happy; seek out those light filled memories of success, contentment, bliss and let them reshape my past, present and future.