How do we know that we're doing what we're supposed to do? How do we know the right course of action, the right step to take? How do we KNOW that we're on the right path?
I recently had a conversation with a friend in which he asked me how I knew that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. Well. I kinda just know. I feel it deep in my bones, deep in my gut. I feel continuously pulled toward yoga practice, teaching, studying, understanding. And I've felt it from the very beginning. It only took me one yoga class to know that I wanted to do this. All. The. Time.
So, that's a pretty good indication to me.
But, there's more. In the past month or so, I've realized that in addition to my own gut feeling about the course of my life, there have been 3 outside influences, specific instances, that gave me the clarity and the motivation to continue along my path. Especially when it was challenging. I'll tell you about them.
It's not super often that we can understand why things are happening when they're happening. Especially! if they're difficult or uncomfortable things. Then we feel especially indignant about understanding them. I think it actually makes us feel better to throw our hands up at the universe and ask "WHY ME?" rather than face the possibility that it's just a step along our path.
When things are going well, it's a little easier to feel that the steps make sense, but even still it can be hard to see clearly.
In my opinion, this is one of the many reasons to note our reactions to the events of our lives. It's also another reason to practice regularly. If you come to the meditation cushion/yoga mat every day, you'll continue to do so even when shit is hitting the fan, even when all the good things are happening, even when you don't feel like it. If you are aware of the typical way in which your mind reacts to "good" events and "bad" events, you can begin to work with your own perspective and letting go of outcomes and offering your work up to something greater than you. But, that's another post entirely.
I am currently co-leading a teacher training program at One Tree Yoga in Omaha. It's been incredibly enriching so far and I am so grateful for the opportunity to pass on the tradition. Our program is very well developed and goes pretty deep compared to many teacher training programs. So, these newbie teachers are just inundated with new information and hopefully a new way of thinking about themselves and how they relate to the world.
This brings me to the first of my 3 experiences which spurred me along on my path. Through this co-leading experience, I'm very aware of how much I've learned in my own yoga path. Like a lot. And when I had just finished my own TT I knew very little. But regardless of my new teacher status, my teacher Theresa Murphy gave me a bunch of her classes to sub, immediately following my graduation. She just handed them off to me and fully trusted me to do a good job and conduct a good class and hold my shit together.
Now, this might not seem like a big deal to some of you, but having seen the state of teachers just coming off a training, I am blown away by her level of trust. And her willingness to give me such a big responsibility with her complete confidence. I absolutely didn't understand the scope of this at the time, but looking back today, I see it as a major stepping stone to where I am today. Major gratitude, T-Love!
The second of my major motivators came from one of my teachers in MPLS. His name is Ben Vincent and if you follow this blog, you've heard me talk about him several times before. His greatest strength, in my mind, is his intellect. He and I teach entirely different styles of yoga asana and so my biggest takeaway from our work together has been in the realm of philosophy. I had the pleasure of taking two courses with him, one on the Bhagavad Gita and the other on the Yoga Sutras. The Bhagavad Gita course was our first encounter. It was a big group, at least 25 people and we would get together once a week to practice meditation and discuss the book. Ben and I, to this point, had almost no personal interaction. Which is why I was incredibly surprised and pleased to receive an email from him one day in which he stated "It is apparent that you are fully ready to receive the Dharma." Done and done. And yes, he talks like that.
These simple words came at a time when I absolutely needed them. I was working a job that was highly dissatisfying and trying with all my might to be a yoga teacher on the side. I really believe that this motivation from Ben kept me going, feeling like I was on the right path.
The third actually doubles as a major cue that I was on the right path and the biggest compliment of my entire life. Some of you know this story, but the way that I came back to Omaha was through this compliment. Tias Little of Prajna Yoga in Santa Fe has always been in the periphery of my yoga awareness, but it wasn't until May of 2013 that I really understood his greatness in full when I came back to Omaha to take a weeklong workshop with him. It was swell. Since I knew the owner and the studio manager, I was invited to hang with them throughout the week and had the opportunity to get to actually know Tias and have some conversations with him. Apparently we hit it off.
Next thing I knew, I was back in Austin with a call from Jamie Rye suggesting I come back to Omaha and an email from Tias suggesting I continue study with him. Apparently he orchestrated the push to get me back to Omaha, to my home studio of One Tree Yoga where I am today.
As these events were occurring there was no way that I could see them for the major stepping stones that they were. In the moment, we can't ever really know how the events of our life will play out, form patterns and shape our existence. But damn if it isn't nice to look back and know that we're doin' alright.
I feel so grateful for the tradition of yoga, the teachers who have and continue to inspire me and the ease of my surety about my path. I know how it feels to not know if you're doing the right thing, which makes it even sweeter when you find your place in the grand scheme of the universe. And it may be fleeting! So you best enjoy it while it's good. Trust your instincts and do what feels right.