By Kara-Leah Grant, Musings from the Mat
Yesterday we got home from six days away – my son with his father, and me in Napier teaching yoga classes and workshops.
I love being on the road, catching up with the many friends I have around the country, teaching at a variety of studios, sharing my passion for yoga in workshops.
I love home too but when I’m at home, I’m reminded of the home I don’t have, the life I’m not leading.
In that life I’m coming home to a man I love, who loves me. I’m delighting in cooking him dinner, and curling up on the couch to watch the weather while catching up on our weeks, sharing a bath, going to bed early.
Coming home is always bittersweet as I come face to face with a shadow of an un-lived life.
It’s a life that I’ve learned how to simultaneously envision as possible, yet constantly let go of as I surrender to what is.
This is the hardest practice.
I love my life as it is. I love me as I am. I have amazing friends and family and I certainly don’t want for love. Yet, as a couple of people have remarked on in the past few weeks, there is a sadness within me. A sadness that comes from approaching 40 and being alone.
It’s a state of being I love because in the aloneness I have come to know and love myself.
Yet it’s not the only state I want to experience.
While in Napier, I was doing deep work on a pattern I’ve written about before on YLB, around the way I work – my workaholism in essence. I chain myself to my desk and computer out of this sense of duty or obligation. In Napier, a dear friend offered me a complimentary acupuncture session and an opportunity to spend more time with her. I said no because I had to ‘work’.
That afternoon, while I sat at my computer editing videos, uploading videos, emptying my inbox and wasting time on Facebook I realised I had my priorities all wrong.
I have been forsaking my real life for my online life. More time at the computer doesn’t mean that more ‘work’ gets done, or that I create more content or make more money. What it means is I tune out. It means I lose myself and I escape into my mind. And in those moments I feel safe and comforted and ok.
That night I did a session with my favourite therapist, Ben Ralston. I saw how often I say no to life, how often I hide myself away and how often I act out of fear. By the end of our session I had a clear and deep sense that I don’t have to live this way anymore.
After our session, I dreamt of climbing a mountain. Someone had given me a map and shown me the way and I was clomping up with everyone else, wearing ski boots (I was going skiing). The terrain was clumpy, all tussock grass and steep. Without warning, a bank I was scaling gave way underneath me and I crashed to the ground.
As I crashed, I woke up to myself.
What am I doing? I don’t have to walk up the mountain, I can fly!
And so I activated my flying powers, which work by pressing firmly down through outstretched arms and open hands (activating apana vayu!). With ease, I began to fly up the mountain.
Although, now I could fly, I wasn’t in a hurry. Instead I took my time, helping out other people along the way – rescuing a tripod that was sliding away from a photographer, catching an elderly man who had started to slip. Serving people became more important than getting to the top of the mountain.
I woke up with a sense of clarity. And it was this clarity I came home with.
No more losing myself in an online life. My orientation is firmly offline. When contemplating projects, I need to ask is, Am I engaging with and serving people face to face?
In the wake of this, I pulled the plug on my six week webinar series How to Live Your Yoga and Rock Your Life. I’m passionate about this material and thought that offering it online would be a way to reach the wider Yoga Lunchbox audience (some 5000 people), most of whom don’t live in New Zealand, or Tauranga. However, four days out from the start day, only 7 people had signed up.
Christina and I had put hours of work into the launch of the webinar, and there were still hours more work to do – work that would have seen me chained to a computer. Pulled the plug and refunding those seven people felt liberating.
The second major change I’m making is shifting from sitting on my computer most of my work day ‘getting things done’ to only working task-specific, and walking away in between. This shifts my reality from being default online, to being default reality.
I’ll live in real life, and dip into the online world as I need to accomplish things – like this morning I want to edit and upload a Skype interview I did last week with Mark Whitwell, and schedule an article to publish Tuesday morning.
Of course, these changes means that I’m now feeling those lingering emotions that have sent me fleeing online.
I’m feeling the sadness of being where I am, as I am. Feeling into it, there’s an underlying whisper that “something’s wrong with me” – not because I’m single, but because my heart yearns to be with someone.
Over the last three years, I’ve done an enormous amount of relationship work, laying to bed all kinds of beliefs, assumptions and limiting behaviour patterns around men, sex, love and relationships. That work has left me crystal clear about what I want to experience in a partner and in a relationship. Not because I’m looking for any kind of perfection, but because I know what serves me best.
Now the work lies around letting go, surrendering and having faith.
One question I’ve been asking myself in the last few months is;
Could I be alone for the rest of my life?
The answer is yes – I could. Because I’m alone right now and the rest of my life is only today. I am ok right now.
Yes, I have a sadness, but this is the nature of life. Many of us live with lingering sadness which will forever be a part of the fabric of our lives – a lost child, a lost parent, a lost sibling, illness, war, poverty, hardship, dreams dashed, unfulfilled potential.
I know feelings well enough to know that running from feelings only leads to suffering.
Running into my work and the online world disconnects me from the present and from the beauty of life. I don’t want that.
I want to be immersed in the beauty of life – the view from my front porch, the droplets of water along the washing line, the smell of rain on the plants, the crunch of the apple I’m snacking on, the play of the music on my speaker.
If the price of that is sadness, I’ll gladly pay.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m stepping offline to crank the music and do some housework.
A few disclaimers.
These feelings come in waves. They’re not constant. I like to pretend they don’t even exist. But it feels important to own up to them – to be honest, and say:
I’m sad I’m not sharing my life with someone right now. I’m sad I don’t have a partner I can share my love with. I’m sad this isn’t part of my experience at the moment.
Yet this too will pass.
And in the acceptance of the aloneness and the acknowledgement of the sadness there will come a time when I do meet someone and when I do share my life with someone.
I know this.
It almost feels like I’m courting this sadness as a way of stepping ever more fully into life. It’s an entry point, it’s the doorway, it’s the porthole.