When I started writing this series of blogs about my yoga teacher training, the idea was to write a post about every individual yoga session. I don’t know exactly what I was thinking of: whether these posts would be literal, matter-of-fact recounts of everything I’d learned on that specific day, or whether they would be more personal, associative musings. Or, as it turned out, something more in between.
Rather quickly upon starting my yoga training journey and the writings that went with it, I discovered that I felt a bit restricted by my own plan to write something about every session. When that happens, I don’t want to force myself to stick with a format that, apparently, hinders me in some ways. I want to break it open a bit more, and just write what I write – when I write.
The silence between things
One way to do so, is to stop clinging to the idea of writing one post per yoga session. I’ve discovered that the lessons I take from this journey sometimes present themselves over the course of a few sessions. Learning about yoga is a slow process. Not every session is worth writing about, just like not every chapter in life contains a clear moral. And that’s okay. We should never underestimate the importance of interludes.
The beauty of interludes is that they facilitate space for something else to emerge. It is in the silence between things, that true insight can emerge. Think of the great ideas and decisions that come to you when you’re in the shower, or just about to fall asleep. Insight shows up in the small moments of relaxation.
When, in our last class of 2018, we talked about finding our inner light through meditation, I was reminded of that one clear moment of insight I had, almost a year ago. I had just done an hour of yin yoga at a studio in town and we were closing off the session in shavasana. As I was lying there, relaxed and defenceless, I suddenly had the realisation that I wanted to quit my PhD. But more than a mere thought, it really felt as if I didn’t just want to quit. I had to quit. All of a sudden, it was crystal clear to me.
Ever since that moment I have been wondering: what happened to that part of myself that was once so sure about doing a PhD? For a long time, I honestly believed that the academic path was my life path. But then all of a sudden that changed. In one moment of stillness.
Life happens like that sometimes. But I still struggled to understand how it had happened.
Then, the other day, I was listening to a podcast episode which discussed the notion of dharma. Dharma is a Sanskrit term that means to live your life in accordance with the laws of the universe. It refers to your own personal way of living your life, or life purpose, if you will. In the podcast I was listening to, they proposed to view dharma as a seed. The seed is planted in your soul and comes with a specific goal or purpose in life. But as the seed grows into a plant or tree, it can lead you elsewhere altogether. If your dharma is to work with kids, then you can start off your journey as a teacher, but end up as a children’s book writer. There are different ways of fulfilling your purpose.
Through the podcast, I came to the realisation that, in a way, the yogic path and the academic path are similar. I was drawn to both of them because I was in search of knowledge and insight. I went into academia because I wanted to be an intellectual and get to a deeper understanding of modern culture, society and the way that the world works. The same goes for my reason to do yoga, but now I wanted to start with understanding myself.
In the silence between things, life came full circle. I had the realisation that I needed to stop something. And I had the realisation that in a way, I never really stopped. I just changed direction.