Asato ma sat gamaya, tamaso ma jyotir gmaya, mryitor ma amrytam gamaya.
“The truth can dawn on us, gradually or suddenly. Until then, we are kind of in the dark” - the Upanishads
Have you know people who got really sick, divorced or lost a job, and did a complete 180’? Boss had a heart attack and went from a coach potato to an avid jogger? Friend had a major work burnout and went from a type-A perfectionist to a low-key(ish) meditator? Mom got divorced, moved to the beach and became a vegetarian yogi? As a long-time yoga teacher, I see these kind of major lifestyle shifts pretty frequently. As we say in yoga philosophy, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Sometimes the teacher comes in the form of sickness, a big change, or tragedy which wakes us to the impermanent and precious nature of living. We get that we have been waiting for happiness, a healthy body, or less stress, but haven’t been actually doing much to cultivate that in the every day.
I had a friend who was diagnosed with MS some years ago. At the time of her diagnosis, she was a work hard/play even harder kind of a girl. The intensity of her 70+ hour work weeks were matched by drinking everyone within a 1 km radius under the table and winning every hand at poker on the weekends. She knew how to go. She didn’t know how to stop. She knew something was wrong when traveling in Mexico, and when she returned, she got the diagnosis. Her work hard, party harder stories were legendary, but before I knew her.
When I met Caroline, she was an avid gardener, yogi, meditator and budding holistic nutritionist – the vision of health from the inside out. I was with her a few times when her MS symptoms flared up - which she felt in the body as a build-up of heat. When she started to get irritated by the stress of traffic, she had to pull over to the side of the road and take some deep breaths or do a body scan. A stressful work deadline would lead her to the yoga studio. She knew what would come if she didn’t find a way to de-escalate from stress or anxiety. To her, the diagnosis was a precious gift.
The truth dawns on us, gradually or suddenly.. that we get sick too often… Or it’s hard to run around the block, let alone run the 10k we used to… Or our pants don’t fit well, and they haven’t in a while… That we spend too much time watching the series of other peoples’ (seemingly happy) lives on television, and less creating it on our own. The voice of “is this it?” gets too loud to ignore, if we choose to wake up.
I had a wake up call a few years ago when I got some bloodwork done. I had been feeling less peppy and energetic than usual for some time. I needed a mid-day nap to get through the day and my productivity and mental acumen had really gone down. My bloodwork showed I was missing a lot of nutrients, and that my gut, which had been home to parasites from at least 3 continents, didn’t know how to process the good nutrients I had been feeding it. I had a leaky gut.. This was very discouraging news for a very health-conscious, vegetarian yoga teacher. I healed my gut, which made my energy go WAY up, but also became interested in how awesome could feel. This led me to dinacharya, the habits that yogis had been following for a several thousand years for longevity and wakefulness.
I made some really big changes, almost overnight.. went from habitual light snacking all day to actual meals, eaten almost entirely during sunlight hours rather than after night yoga classes. Other habits that affected my sleep, like limiting wine, caffeine and browsing the internet too late at night, I did kaizen.. making small, incremental changes on these hard-to-change habits. Ayurveda teaches us to be our own healers.. that our own body/mind wisdom charters our path. If we are awake and we say yes.
What is shifting in your life? What ways can you shift? Are you ready for a big change?
Transitions can be hard because they can shake your sense of identity – who am I without this job, this partner, or these habits – but they are also an unbelievable opportunity for growth. Who/what do we want to transition into? What parts of ourselves have we neglected and we want to begin practicing again? Asking these questions is needed and important. But we also need a roadmap. And people who have been there before, know where the potholes are, and where the wide open road is ahead.
That’s where I come in. If you are looking to wake up to a sparkly energized you, let’s chat. I am working with one-on-one clients on a 10 week long habit-changing course where you will learn, and be coached on, how to sleep like a champ, have energy ALL DAY, move, care for, and nourish your one precious body, and quiet your mind so your inner wisdom gets some air time. Shifts in your outer life result in great shifts in your inner life. My next 10 week group will start in the fall, along with a great fall detox.