Yoga, the True Self, and fear of change

October 30, 2016 | Yoga

Three times in my life — three, count ’em — I have either started to train as a yoga teacher (back in Austin in the 1980s), started the application process to train as a yoga teacher (in Albany a few years ago), or stood on the very edge of making a decision to train as a yoga teacher (at Heartspace in Albany this past September). Every single time I let myself get in my own way by getting inside my own head and talking myself out of what I know without question would be a life-changing, soul-lifting, completely transforming experience. And I’m not even talking about the part where I would become a certified yoga teacher. I’m talking about the part where this training would finally force (in the gentlest way possible, of course) me to face me, to face the True Self I’m always writing about and talking about but afraid to confront in a totally open way.

The past two times I considered YYT-200 training, it was with Lauren Toolin of Yoga Vidya. Both times she was encouraging and firm, letting me know it wouldn’t be easy but it would be so worth it. She didn’t need to convince me, and yet both times I let fear get the best of me — I’m too old, I’m not fit enough, I don’t have the time, it’s too much money, where would I teach anyway, what about liability insurancyoga-pyramide, and every other excuse in the book. I hate it when fear wins.

Today I was on Instagram and came across a Yoga Vidya Salon with Lauren, where she answered questions about her own path in particular and yoga in general. Her message is one that so resonates with me: It’s not about perfecting a pose; it’s about going deep within. Sitting in total silence for 30 minutes can be much harder than doing a headstand. And yet I get stuck on the fact that I can no longer do a headstand.

Toward the end of her video, in response to a question, she says:

“Yoga changes people, and that’s a beautiful thing, but change isn’t always pretty or easy…Yoga is a great way to change, if you want to change…”

Ah, there’s the rub. Do I really want to change? We often say we want change, but we usually want a transformation of our own making. We have an idea and an image in our head of what our transformation should look like, but that’s just us trying to put our human constructs on the Divine. True transformation means accepting that we might not have any idea what it will entail or whether we’ll like every aspect of what needs to happen, and beginning anyway. That involves letting go of fear and falling in with trust.

Do you want to change? I’m putting together a plan to gather a little tribe of sorts to support each other in whatever change we’re after, to encourage each other, and to give each other a little nudge when one of us is stuck in fear. Do you want to join me? Let me know, and I’ll keep you posted as things develop.

Here’s the full Yoga Vidya Salon video with Lauren if you’d like to check it out. Enjoy.

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