As I look back over 2014, I see it was a whirlwind of change. Although much of it was exciting and invigorating, it was also stressful and challenging. Moving, house renovations, moving again, this time out of state. I believed that I was going with the flow; however somewhere along the line, I began to struggle against things that I couldn’t control, become ungrounded and internalize stress. It’s not that anything monumentally “bad” happened; but at some point I realized I was carrying some low-level anxiety and feeling “off”. Like something was “wrong” with me.
While I was in Denver, I went to a Kripalu yoga studio. Although the class was very gentle, I was astonished to find that as I made my way through the movements, my entire body was in pain. As if it was screaming out for me to listen. Even with all my years of experience in yoga and knowing that the body has messages to share with us, I was still surprised to have so much intense sensation whereas just moments earlier when I had walked in, I felt fine. A humbling moment, but I moved slowly and only in the ways my body would allow, respected the edges and breathed! As I surrendered to the space and time that my body was craving, it responded in kind and offered my gripping muscles and aching joints space as well. “You haven’t been trusting me”, the message came through loud and clear. “huh?” that took me by surprise. As if in an instantaneous flash, I sensed how many times over the past year I had worried that my energy wouldn’t hold out with all that was going on. An unnecessary throwback, I realized, from when I had been sick with un-medicated hypo-thyroid disease years earlier. Wow. I suddenly realized that I had been unconsciously undermining my body’s wisdom. Needless to say, it was a very fruitful class; however even after a long shivasana, I could sense there was more for me to hear.
I decided to go for a walk at the Denver Zoo which was nearby and I had been told was a beautiful place to go. It was a lovely and sunny day in the high 60’s as I strolled past the entry gate. I followed the path towards the first exhibits, “wild cats”, not so much focused on what the exhibits were themselves, but more focused on my breath, each step, the feeling of the sun on my skin. I was startled as I came around a blind spot on the path and found myself face to face with a cheetah. It appeared that all that was separating us was a knee wall. Upon closer inspection, (but not too close! lol), I noticed that there was an electrical wire running along the inside of that wall, which I assumed the cheetah had learned not to cross; however, even that seemed astounding since he could’ve easily leaped over it. I stayed at what felt like a ‘safe’ distance and watched the beautiful cat. It was quite a large enclosure. No bars, just open space with grasses and large logs for him to lounge on. Despite that, I observed that he paced back and forth along a limited area at the left side of the habitat. As I continued to watch this cat, I realized that I was simultaneously sensing a low level anxiety in my own body. I began to feel that even as “nice” as this cheetah’s “home” was and that his basic needs were being cared for, he wasn’t doing what he was made to do. Hunting, roaming and exploring large tracts of territory, breeding, playing with his own kind and whatever else it is that cheetah’s do in the wild. He wasn’t fulfilling what he was born to do and it seemed to be creating this anxiety that was being expressed by his pacing. He was holding himself in a small, “safe” area even though he had much more room to move.
I then recognized this “not doing what I was born to do feeling” as the source of my own tension lately.
At first I judged it.”I have nothing to complain about. My needs are met. I am so much more fortunate than many others.”
And then my Sankalpa, “I am love” rose up to meet me. and “yes,” I thought. I’ve been living that. In my daily actions and interactions I’ve been living that and that IS great. It took me a while to understand, that while that was true, I had not been teaching in a class setting and that too was an area in which my sankalpa needed to be expressed. That too was part of my purpose. I immediately became grateful when I understood that these recent feelings of being “off” were my body’s attempt at getting me to listen and realize this. As soon as I “got” this, I immediately felt more at home and relaxed within myself. I could rest in a feeling of “everything is ok” instead of “something’s wrong with me”.
What is YOUR heartfelt desire? How does it get expressed in your life? What might your heart/body be wanting to tell you? I think this question is particularly relevant at a time of year where we all tend to make New Year’s resolutions. That practice sends the body/mind the message, ” I need to change/be different”. This creates separation and reinforces the mistaken belief that happiness is dependent on outside situations. Vikalpa. “Vi”divide/separate. “Kalpa” way of being.
Sankalpa reminds us that everything we need to express our unique gifts into the world is already in us. “San” born from the heart. “Kalpa” way of being.
I am currently in Massachusetts and will be until Jan. 8. I hope you’ll consider joining me on January 3rd for a workshop meant to help you on the path to discovering or deepening your connection to your own heartfelt desire. http://www.shaktiwellnessyoga.com