Like a Prayer Yoga turns one
Yesterday marked a year since Like a prayer yoga began. I can clearly remember this time last year and all of the ideas, plans, dreams and hopes and ok a lot of fears too. Some of the things I thought would happen did and some didn’t. (Gwyneth, we’re still waiting on you to lighten our pink doors.)
It’s funny thinking that we know what is going to happen. I guess it’s funny thinking we have any control at all. Sure we can do our best, try our hardest but that’s where our role or input or effect ends. We try and take as much control as possible – basing our well thought out choices and decisions on sound reasoning, on precedents of what has happened before. We take steps to mitigate bad things from happening, softening the potential blow of whatever it could be. But at some point we just have to accept that our ability to create, to act, to make, to do, to be, to change is and will be affected by so many other unknown forces, occurrences and happenings that we have absolutely no control over. Some people might believe this is fate or the universe at work, if that doesn’t resonate for you then maybe it’s just because we don’t live isolated lives but are affected and impacted by what goes on around us.
When I left Sydney, my cosy apartment, a safe job working for the government and family and friends back in June 2015 my plan was to go to Costa Rica to volunteer there, most likely with sloths. It seemed an obvious thing to do at the time. I loved animals, was sick of working in an office after eight solid years of it, could speak a little bit of Spanish and did I mention I really do like animals? I never did get to Costa Rica and somehow, someway, things happened which led me to opening a yoga studio in the basement of a café in an old farmhouse in Brooklyn. What I could imagine or plan or perceive was going to happen could never have come up with the reality of what did. My mind just never would have gone there. But maybe I needed the plan to feel safe, to have something to say to people when I was asked what I was going to do, to quiet down the anxiety in the middle of the night. To assure myself that I was in control, I was in control, I was in control. In the beginning of yoga classes I find myself always writing down a list of poses and more often than not we don’t do many of them. But just having them there, seeing those poses clearly listed out gives me some comfort that things are under control. That there is a plan.
Two things stood out for me this year. One of them was that I had to keep learning over and over again that I am not in control. Try as I might, I just could not control what happened. Despite all my solid plans and goals and desires, so much other stuff happened or came up or got in the way that showed me that I had to keep letting go, keep trusting, keep having faith. There were so many points where I felt powerless, unable to change anything or do anything and realised that it was beyond me, beyond my power. In those moments where you feel like you can’t do or try anything else, it really becomes clear that faith and hope is sometimes all you have.
The second thing that stood out for me this year was I became so much more aware of how much support we all need when we do things that are vulnerable or scary or that take courage. Before this year, I don’t think I really appreciated how much we need each other to help us on our paths. It’s easy when you think of this self-helpy stuff to feel like you are on your own. That your path to self-actualisation is, and should be, a sole one. That it’s about learning about who you are, what you want, where you’re going. After this year that just doesn’t feel true to me. As much as we learn or discover about ourselves, we also learn and understand the people around us. As much as we want to understand our own power and strength, we also want to understand theirs. Before this year I don’t think I really appreciated how much we really do need each other’s help. Sometimes I think the idea of getting validation from outside ourselves can be seen as a weakness, but I think it’s a beautiful thing we can really give to each other, to help us when we really need to know that what we are doing is worth it, that we should keep going. I deeply felt every response to this weekly email, every time someone came to a class, even in the pouring rain, even when we didn’t have heating; every time someone brought a friend or their Mum, or their sister, or their boyfriend to a class, every hug, every kind word. This is something I could not control. This was something I did not expect or plan for. And this was the absolute best thing that happened this year.