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“Not everything is chosen.” – Martha McAlpine
To thrive we must choose to receive what life brings our way
I would have chosen neither of my most significant experiences of the last year. Though this statement is 100% true, in the same breath (or at least paragraph) I can say with equal honesty that I would not trade any of the effects these unchosen experiences have had on me.
Like yoga studio owners everywhere, I would never have opted to have a pandemic abruptly close the business that has given me so much life and joy. Yet, the resulting stillness and space in my days yielded creativity that would have remained out of reach so long as I continued to dash hither and yon lugging my bag of yoga mats.
Like survivors of loss everywhere, I would never (ever) have opted to embark on the long journey of grieving the brother who was also my dear friend. Yet, being brought to my knees and choosing to stay there and see what grief had to teach me has yielded surprising depth and meaning to life’s moments of which I was previously unaware.
From the murkiness of loss comes clarity
Both losses have left me with a sense of clarity about what matters most, about my own passions, about how I yearn to invest my time and energy. This clarity is different from what you might expect – it is focused on the present rather than the future. While I am somehow certain about the steps I’m taking, I am not at all bothered by the fact that I cannot see or even sense exactly where I’m headed.
Letting go is hard – and necessary – to do
In order to take the steps I’ve taken in the last year, I’ve had to choose to let go of other things. Letting go isn’t easy. Letting go of things I love, things I feel indebted to, things I know others might want from me is really, really hard. But, letting go is necessary to being able to receive.
“As we choose [to let go], we step into a new reality that is forming before us.” – Can’t Fall Out of Love by East Forest
However, as I have let the emotions of letting go (sorrow, grief, guilt, anxiety, fear) wash over, around, and through me, I have found beneath it all a deep, abiding sense of freedom, hope, and excitement. I feel like I’m stepping into a new reality that fits the me who has not just survived the last year but has somehow managed to thrive.
New ways of sharing my passions
What am I stepping into? A new reality where I am more evenly dividing my time helping others explore spirituality, philosophy, and yoga. You will see this change reflected on my newly reimagined website. There are free classes on the landing pages for each area – spirituality, philosophy, and yoga – to help you get a sense of how I teach in each area. There are recorded classes and I hope you stay tuned for upcoming live classes in each category.
Becoming a student again
I am also stepping into a new reality where I am a student as well as a teacher. In addition to exploring the philosophy and practices of kundalini yoga (a very new-to-me style of yoga), I am excited to be embarking on a two-year program in contemplative living with The Living School of Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC).
As I have discovered, I never learn more than when I’m teaching. A somewhat surprising part of my reinvigorated life as a student will be teaching an additional section of my university yoga philosophy class this fall. Those of you who know me know that this work is a joy for me.
An expanding Yoga With Spirit community
Finally, I am stepping into a new reality where I am better able to share the work I do here in southeastern Pennsylvania near and far. One of the gifts of the pandemic was Zoom, which has allowed me to provide spiritual direction, yoga philosophy instruction, and even yoga asana training to people all over the country.
Even as I stayed home within my own four walls, the Yoga With Spirit community burst its geographic bounds. I hope this expansion continues. To that end, my spiritual direction practice will continue to be either in person or via Zoom and I will offer all my spirituality, philosophy, and yoga classes in a hybrid format. I am eager for you to connect with like-minded friends in this expanding community.
New way of gathering as a community
As I alluded to above, to choose to make these shifts has required me let go of things I once did – mainly teaching a full schedule of yoga asana classes. This is work I’ve done for more than 15 years with a community of people I care about deeply. Letting go is far from easy.
That said, because asana is a huge support in spiritual and philosophical growth, I do not want to eliminate it from my offerings. I am excited to begin teaching monthly community workshops that offer asana as a tool to support deeper growth. These 2 ½ hour classes will meet live and via Zoom on the first Saturday of the month from September through May. In them we will share an hour of yoga asana, a pranayama (mindful breathing) practice, a guided meditation, and a discussion on an element of yoga philosophy or spirituality. Look for details in the July Yoga With Spirit Newsletter.
Thank you for walking with me through the past year. I hope our shared journey will continue as we step into the new reality that awaits each of us every day. We may not know exactly where we’re going, but as long as each step along the way feels right and true, I now know that Life can be trusted to unfold in ways guaranteed to draw us ever closer to being the people we hope to be.
I hope you will take a few minutes to visit www.yogawithspirit.com to explore the free recorded class options in spirituality, philosophy, and yoga. Plus take a peek at current and upcoming courses. Namaste.