The decade between 2010 and the start of this New Year – 2020 – was quite a ride. A dream job that opened so many doors I was seeking. A terrible chronic pain and illness began. Meaningful connections unfolded. I left a dream job that nearly destroyed me. Called a fraud and hack. Built a business from scratch. Dealt with the ongoing chronic pain. Experienced challenging work relationships. Got married unexpectedly to the most incredible man. Rebuilt my yoga teaching style six or seven times over as I continued to educate myself. Got knocked down by gossip and bullying time and time again. Built a warm and friendly community of practitioners in my city. Expanded my community globally. Learned how to take vacation. Lost my hair multiple times. Had days I could barely stand from the amount of pain in my abdomen. Attended teacher trainings and education courses every year. Was told my chronic pain and symptoms were “all in my head.” Overworked to try and make ends meet. Crumbled under the pressure of external judgment. Finally someone listened to me about my chronic pain and symptoms. Overhauled my entire life and retreated from social and work experiences to figure out how to feel better. Delved into multiple types of physical therapy and medical care to feel better. A proper diagnosis and team put all the pieces together. Learned how to rest, move, sleep, work, and eat in ways that truly nourish me. And now, a fresh start from a really incredible foundation of all these paths I walked in the last decade. I feel more myself now than I have in a really long time.
Through all of these challenges and joys, my practices of yoga and meditation were a sanctuary. I could go to my meditation cushion or my yoga mat and come home. Home to myself, home to my breath, home to my Spirit, and home to my Being. Learning the skillfulness to remember a steady home-ground at any moment – a feeling of being centered that was independent of external circumstances – helped to amplify my joys at the really exciting, good times, and helped to navigate the rock-bottom fearful times. I don’t think I could be where I am right now without my practices.
As we enter this New Year together, part of my intention is to help others to feel their own connection to their own home-ground. I truly believe that we all find that feeling in different ways and along diverse pathways. There’s no “right” way to move or practice – there’s the way that works for you where you are now. Our language to describe this feeling of an internal home might be really distinct. A doorway for one person might be a distraction for another. As we have already started practicing in classes and sessions in the first two days of this year, it takes an openness to all the possibilities before us and a radical shift in opening perspective in new directions to feel, “How do I remember my home-ground in this moment?” I hope that I can be a resource in helping you go on your own journey to find the answer to this question – in helping you to come home more fully to yourself.
I’d love to share just one of the simple but profound exercises I’ve interwoven into my yoga and meditation in the last decade. It is the practice of welcoming. So often it’s possible to arrive at our practice with an agenda for how we want to feel or what we want to achieve – a checklist so to speak. This often leaves us with little space to feel what is already present or wanting to arrive. Welcoming, for me, is making space while I meditate and practice yoga for whatever decides to show up in each moment. Whether a feeling, a sensation, a thought, an energy, a memory – whatever – I give it some attention and some time. I let it know that I know it’s there. In this way, even the most chaotic of days when I’ve felt really awful started to become “home.” If my own attention and awareness could be a welcoming presence no matter what arrived, I suddenly started to feel myself coming home any time I had attention to what was arising. This deep shift has had wide and healing ramifications for me.
Wherever you are reading this, just stay there. Close your eyes if you are able and if you feel comfortable. Leave your eyes open if you need to – your sense of sight might feel important to welcoming what is arriving for you. Invite your attention to notice whatever may be present around you – sounds, movement of breath, a feeling in your body, a thought wandering through. Just welcome for even a few seconds whatever shows up. Sometimes the invitation to welcome opens the flood gates and all sorts of things arrive at once. Sometimes the invitation to welcome opens up to an eerie unexpected emptiness – a nothing-ness arriving. Regardless of what does or does not come into your attention, just continue to welcome what is present. Continue for perhaps 3-5 minutes. Set a timer if it helps.
Let me know if you get even a hint of your own home-ground – a flavor of something you remember as steady, grounded, omnipresent even when nothing arrives. If this felt good, try weaving it into your practices to strengthen a connection to Being a Welcoming Presence and to Being at home with yourself. If it didn’t work for you, leave it behind. May we all find ways of coming home to our Selves this year (and every year).