Trust the Process.
This is one of those things that yoga teachers say. One of those phrases that many say but perhaps not many really believe or even know what its means. Honestly this phrase meant nothing to me until recently.
And it started with something tiny and pretty insignificant. Something I wanted purely for my ego. I wanted to drop back from standing into urdva dhanurasa (wheel).
When I began attempting (psyching myself up, bailing at the last minute) I was terrified. So much fear. I was pretty sure my body was capable but I could't get past the fear. I asked a friend and fellow teacher, Jemma Tory, who I go and see whenever I'm struggling with something in my practice, if we could do a few private sessions to help me work through it.
As I was facing this fear I realized I hated having it in my practice. It was an interloper. An intruder in my practice. "You are not welcome here!!" I would yell at it in my head. It really had a life of its own. I visualized it as a cartoonish, hairy blob. Like a cleaning product commercial's anthropomorphized depictions germs and dirt.
Jemma instructed me, "when you start feeling the fear, pay close attention to it, see what it has to say, often times when you shine the light on it, it cowers away." When you look at it full on its meaning begins to dissolve, its power evaporates.
What eventually brought me to the other side, not letting the fear win, and dropping back on my own, was a simple exercise I did with Jemma and a few other friends during a private session. She had us tightly hold a tennis ball in our hand and led us through a visualization of the tennis ball being fear and us (our hand) holding and attaching desperately to it. Attaching to our attachment to the fear. As she talked she directed us to begin swirlingly ball in our hands, looser and looser and until we were finally ready to let go. LET GO.
At the time I had no idea the impact this would have on me.
I went home from this session, unrolled my mat, and dropped back. I talked myself through the same visualization and I let go and it worked. I felt high. The lightness and elation was crazy. It was so rewarding, so empowering, and so fun!
As I began to work dropping back into my home practice the fear was still there, but each time I faced it it became smaller and smaller, now its hardly there at all.
Fast forward a year. I was having coffee with Jemma. We were talking about practicing at home. I was telling her that over the past 2 years my home practice has completely exploded. It has transformed into an organic, creative exploration and expression, with something new happening every time. I'm still kind of in awe over it, especially since I didn't intentionally set out to change the way I practiced at home. It truly feels like it has a life of its own, and I have little to do with what happens. Its my teacher. I'm not my teacher, IT is. I told Jemma that it never used to be like this. She asked me what caused this shift? It was then I realized that it was overcoming fear. I was so terrified of dropping back, this fear had a hold on me and was holding me back in many different ways, ways I didn't even know existed. It wasn't even just the fear of dropping back it was simply FEAR. It was clouding my spirit and creativity, disrupting energy and keeping me from my fullest potential. But as I faced and overcame that fear, that unwelcome alien in my practice, my home practice began to blossom. It has become bigger and much more powerful than I had ever imagined. What started as me just wanting to advance my physical practice cracked open a hidden vessel of creativity and knowledge that I never knew existed.
This evolution of my personal practice has caused my teaching to evolve. And so the yoga bleeds out into life and touches everything.
So trust the process. I finally understand what this means. It means that if you are honestly showing up in your practice, open to change, open to transformation, open to seeing your faults, humble to the lessons that need to be taught, humble to the lessons you need to learn, magic will happen. It takes a heart open to listening. It asks you to relinquish control. It takes a spirit fighting stagnation. Its not all "peace and tranquility" on the mat. There WILL be things you don't like that you need to face. The struggle leads to growth. In fact the struggle is the "WHY". It wasn't the dropping back itself that taught me the lesson, it was facing fear. So even if I never do another drop back in my life it doesn't matter, the lesson lives on. The physical is a tool, an access door to our emotional, spiritual, intangible selves. There may not be a specific goal, reason, name, word, label when the process begins so it requires reflection and objectivity. And the process never ends. You are never done and it is never done with you. It may not be the easiest path, but its a fuller path, with vivid colors and imagery not found on the easy road. So, as the poet/heart-speaker Mary Oliver so perfectly stated, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"