by Kara-Leah Grant
They say that some of the most stressful events in life include the following:
- selling a house
- relationship breakdown
- job uncertainty
Of course, there are plenty of others. But these are just the ones I’m experiencing right now.
Yep, life is kicking my butt. I should probably be curled up in a corner dissolving into a puddle of tears.
But I’m not. I feel more calm, more centred, and more me than I’ve ever felt in my entire life.
One reason is that I’ve been through it all before.
Five years ago exactly, on the September new moon no less, life threw a massive curve ball my way.
- I lost my mind not once, but twice – literally! I ended up in an acute psych ward, the second time committed and unable to leave of my own free will for nine days
- My fiance broke up with me
- My financial situation collapsed, leaving me tens of thousands of dollars in debt
- I had to leave the town I’d lived in for eight years, all my friends, the only life I’d known and come back to New Zealand to recover and heal
The difference between my state of being then, to now, is nothing less than extraordinary.
Then, I was distraught, disconnected, lost, alone, fearful, heart-broken, scattered and barely functioning.
Now, I’m clear; connected; guided; surrounded by supportive friends, family, and work colleagues; centred; open-hearted; and feel damn good.
Two sets of stressful life circumstances.
Two very different responses.
What’s changed in the last five years is me.
And what’s done the changing is a daily practice of yoga – not just postures (asana), but also pranayama (breath work), meditation and the constant witnessing of the Self in action.
Yoga has helped me to identify thought patterns and behaviour patterns that didn’t serve me, and let go of them.
Yoga has helped me move from living exclusively in my mind to experiencing life from a place of witnessing and awareness.
Yoga has taught me how to be with emotions as they arise, how to be with life as it arises, rather than resisting and causing so much more suffering.
Yoga has taught me that fear guards the treasure of our hearts, and clearly marks the places we need to dive into.
Yoga has given me the faith to surrender to my dharma (path in life).
Yoga has taught me that I am just a part of the greater whole, and I don’t always know what’s best for me. Better to trust and let life guide the process.
So today, as I face total uncertainty in the coming months of my life, I feel calm. I know I only need to respond to what is right in front of me in this moment.
Today that means:
- writing two speeches
- writing a couple of magazine articles
- reviewing and editing in-coming copy for the magazine I edit
- getting the house ready for a newspaper photographer and writer
- writing a website article
- preparing for and teaching my evening yoga class
- writing marketing material to sell our house
- handling in-coming inquiries about the house
- managing the changing nature of my relationship with my partner as we continue to live in the same house
There is no need – no room in my day – to worry, to fret, to be anxious, to control, to cling, to fear or to freak out.
Yes, there are moments of sadness and grief. There are moments where I do feel over whelmed. But as those moments arise, I breathe and I sit with what ever is coming up, just allowing it to be. Whatever it is soon passes, as all of life soon passes.
And what remains is my centre – that place the resides deep down inside all of us. It is this place that yoga has taught me how to access, and how to live from.
This is what it means to be a yogi – where, as Ram Dass puts it:
Even in the midst of the strong passions of the moment, there is a deep inner calm and peacefulness, an indifference to the polarities of fame and shame, loss and gain, pleasure and pain, and even life and death.
This is where peace lies – not in controlling external circumstances so nothing bad ever happens to us, but in accessing the truest depths of our being where duality ceases to exist.
Then, no matter what happens, our state of being doesn’t change. Storms may rage on the surface, emotions may come and go, but we remain – steady, unchanging, still.
This is peace.
This is life.
This is freedom.