by Kara-Leah Grant, Musings from the Mat
I’m on a 500hr Yoga Teacher Training with the Power Living Crew called Allow the Giant to Emerge. I’m triggered, massively, and have spent four days of mired deep in my shit.
This Thursday evening I’m exhausted and I’m sitting in a Core Belief session with Keenan Crisp and Kristi Clark leading. (Which is really all about working with vasanas.)
I’m sick of hearing about core beliefs, I’m sick of hearing about people’s childhood memories, I’m even sick of hearing about positive core beliefs. I’m over it, completely.
Then out of my exhausted sick-to-death of this shit haze an old childhood memory flashed up.
On Tuesday, when I’d hit the peak of the sobbing, I’d been overcome with a deep sense of shame, yet the over-all sense of what I was experiencing seemed to be around strength. I hadn’t been able to reconcile the two or figure out how they were connected. What’s shame got to do with strength? Is this about strength at all?
Then the memory arrived.
I’m five or six years old and I’d been home for lunch. Because we only lived two blocks from the school, and I ate lunch fast, I’d always arrive back at the school gate before us home-lunch eaters were allowed back into school. This particular day I was dying to go to the bathroom, but always the rule-follower, I waited for the teacher, Mrs Rawson to let us in. And waited. And waited.
By the time she arrived, I’d pooed my pants. Instead of showing empathy, or instead of bringing me into the school to help clean me up or at least empty my pants, she told me to go home and get changed.
I had to walk two blocks with a giant poo in my pants.
Now I understood the other energy involved in my experience – it wasn’t strength, it was power, or rather, powerlessness.
I knew I needed to go into the school and at least use the bathroom there before going home to change, but at 6 years old I couldn’t tell the teacher (a dragon we called Mrs Rawbum behind her back) what I needed.
So home I walked, poo in pants, shame burning, feeling totally powerless. Hello Negative Core Belief.
I am worthless because I am Powerless.
Finally! I was so excited to finally nail my Limiting Core Belief, I was bubbling with relief. Plus the evening’s exercise included freestyle dance on groups of six so I got to shake my booty which always brings me back to my core and my power.
However, I didn’t get an opportunity to share my realisation with anyone, or take time to reflect on what gifts I’ve developed as a result of that belief. That meant I wasn’t able to take time to develop a positive core belief to use the next time I felt powerless.
Because the truth is we’ll all be in situations where we are powerless. In those situations, if we don’t want to be triggered and have an out of context reaction, we need to know how to shift energy, and having a positive core belief to go to helps us that process.
In the realisation of my negative core belief, a dozen life experiences flashed before my eyes and I understood why I’d always run in prime moments of career progression – I felt powerless.
There I was… dropping out of University after being invited into three separate Honours programs… bailing on a journalist career in New Zealand after I’d interned at TV3… coming home in tears from my first day in the office as a speechwriter for MPs… all my reactions of either running or dissolving in tears stemmed from this feeling of powerlessness which was entwined with intense feelings of shame.
Friday morning, stoked with the realisation of understanding so many key events in my life I walked from breakfast down to the main yoga room marvelling in my limiting core belief – accidentally repeating it like a mantra. I am powerless! I am powerless! I am powerless!
That practice I hit the wall again. And despite knowing what was going on, knowing I needed to shift energy and knowing it was all coming from inside of me… I still struggled.
I struggled for the rest of the day, feeling worthless and flat and lost. I needed more time to integrate my experience, but we were going through our program wrap-up.While everyone else was light and bubbly and celebrating the end of the week, I felt like shit again.
That night after the graduation ceremony, a group of us went to a local restaurant for dinner and dancing. And while I love to dance, this particular evening I could still sense the place it was coming from and somehow it tainted the experience (Karma Yoga anyone?). I spent years partying in my twenties, heading out to dance and socialise five or six nights a week in order to overcome a sense of powerlessness. Another pattern revealed.
I woke up on Saturday morning after four hours sleep and headed down to the main room for our final yoga practice, this time with Emee.
And I hated it. I was triggered all over again.
Emee’s theme was all about shining your light bright and being who you can be and I was muttering under my breath through yet another round of chaturanga, ‘I get it already, shut the f*ck up!’
Obviously I had more work to do. (Sorry Emee!)
But before that, there was pack up and goodbyes and exchanges of details and plans for the next few days. Fortunately I’d made fast friends with an awesome and powerful woman from Sydney who works as a Green Investor. She took charge, made motel bookings, scooped me up and carted me off to Seminyak with two other awesome strong women. Lisa, I bow to you!
On arrival at our motel, and out of the retreat for the first time in six days, I took charge of me. I knew we were heading out that night with the core PLAY crew teachers – the three lead facilitators Duncan, Keenan and Kristi, plus the rest of the support crew and other Power Living teachers who had been on the training. I needed to shift state.
I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted and wrung out, not to mention energetically shattered.
Step One: Touch base with Samuel. Deal with family responsibility.
Step Two: Have a swim and wash everything away.
Step Three: Enjoy a massage, arranged by Lisa.
Step Four: Do Yoga Nidra for an hour and catch a 15 minute nap.
Step Five: Determine, finally, a Positive Core Belief. This I did while preparing to nap… I choose to step into my Power. I choose to step into my Power. Because it is a choice, and it can happen in any moment.
Step Six: Shower and get ready to head out and Party.
A challenge – all of it. Not least because I’d only bought yoga clothes and didn’t have anything to wear that would make me feel comfortable and therefore powerful. The only dress I had with me would have to do.
At about 6pm we headed down to Potatohead where Lisa again demonstrated her power by talking us past a 45 minute line-up. Me, I would have just stood in line and sucked it up, even though we had a legitimate way of getting in.
Poolside, I sat back and enjoyed a coconut water (delivered inside a coconut) and a sandwich. I was beginning to feel human again and able to socialise and enjoy myself.
Until I went to the bathroom.
And realised that my mooncup had leaked. F*ck. There was nothing for it… I headed back to our chillout zone and told the ladies what had happened, and that I needed to walk back to the room and change underwear.
It was dark, and my first real night in Bali, out of the complex. I sooooo did not want to walk back by myself, but we were down to three women, and it made no sense at all for both women to come with me.
So I took a breath, sucked it up, and walked out into the busy Balinese streets wearing my soiled underwear proclaiming loudly under my breath.
I choose to step into my power.
And within fifty metres of leaving Potatohead something shifted and I remembered what it’s like to be in powerful flow… that beautiful state which had eluded me all damn week,
And, I came back in a situation that mirrored the situation that had created this limiting core belief.
I was walking home with soiled underwear, again, but this time, powerfully and with no sense of shame at all.
The universe is a magical f*cking place.
Got home, changed underwear, threw a spare pair in my purse (oh I thought those days were long gone 😉 ) and then headed back down to met the women. Flow was back in full force as I bumped back into another friend from the training and helped orientate him to what was going on.
And that was the beginning of an amazing night. We dined. And we danced.
I mean we danced. In a way that I haven’t danced since… since Canada, pre-psychosis, I swear. There must have been about 15 of us, all beautiful strong powerful beings blasting out the dance moves at the front of the club and commanding the podiums for a two hour stretch. This was pure joy erupting on the dance floor, nothing tainted about this.
It was… powerful. And I felt free, strong and with family. I could fully be my wild self and not fear upsetting or over-shadowing anybody. What a delight.
What a week.
What an experience.
It was bloody hard.
Duncan even said to me, ‘I thought you might run, because people do leave the retreats sometimes’. It never crossed my mind though. I was there to Emerge the Giant. I had enough experience to know that what I was going through, crazy and mad and difficult as it was. It was all a part of the process, soiled underwear and all.
The final afternoon, after I said goodbye to the PLAY crew at Potatohead, I walked back down the street to my hotel to grab a taxi to the airport. As I walked, I kept glancing down to make sure I was wearing clothes. I had the weirdness sensation of being naked between my ribs and my belly button. But no, I was wearing clothes, I wasn’t naked at all.
Then it hit me.
Ribs to belly button. Third Chakra. I’d been wearing armour made of shame my entire life and it was gone. I’d cracked opened and dissolved energetically, melting it away in litres of tears on the yoga mat.
I’d always associated shame with svadhisthana. But when I checked Eastern Body Western Mind (get it, it’s amazing) at home it says that the demon of Manipura is Shame.
And the excessive qualities are dominating, controlling, and being constantly active. Tick that off. Deficient qualities are being passive and fearful. Tick those as well. As that’s the odd thing about negative core beliefs and how they affect us. We can often over-compensate to protect ourselves in the world, becoming, for example, controlling and constantly active so we feel powerful, yet under pressure we reveal our deficiencies and become passive or fearful.
I could never understand that about myself – how I prided myself on being strong, independent and in control – powerful! Yet in relationship with men seemed to revert to being passive and fearful at times. It was like I was two different people. My ex-fiance was the first partner to really draw attention to this as he always asked me where the strong, confident woman was he fell in love with. He said I even looked completely different.
I see that too – I see photos of myself and I can look like completely different people. But this is what this work is about – identifying the different aspects of ourselves, where they show up, and what they need. We can’t reject one part of ourself because we don’t like it. That’s what creates our shadows. We have to see and love all aspects of ourselves, creating integration within.
That’s been my work over this week. To recognise that I am a mess at times, that I’m not always strong, or in control. That I can’t do everything well and that’s ok.
That sometimes I’m powerless and that’s ok too. Sometimes I look like crap or sound like crap.
All of this is me.
And all of this is ok.
Because its not really me.
I am that which is beyond all of this – a point that the Power Living crew were merciless in driving home.
You are not your body. You are not your mind. You are not your thoughts. You are not your feelings. You are not this, nor that.
We are, all together. This, and only this.
Stay tuned. More to come.