Growing Inward

A Journal of Personal Experience.

Pity-Party for One

We spent three weeks state-side.  Visiting friends and family.  Which is always amazing, exciting, busy, exhausting, happy, and sad all rolled into one.  And now we are back.  We’ve been back for two days, well technically three, and already I am finding myself spiraling back into my old thought patterns and moods.  I promised myself when we left that I would try to stay positive.  But that quickly went out the window as I unpacked all our sh*t yesterday.  Actually, that’s not true.  I was doing alright until I went to the store.

Why would that be my trigger of all things?  Well, maybe it has something to do with the fact that I left the store with two small bags of groceries that cost the equivalent of a weeks worth of food back home.  Now, it’s not like I don’t know that where we live is expensive.  But it was just one of those moments that frustrated me, one of those “things” that continually frustrates me about where we live, and that moment seemed to be my tipping point yesterday.

I lay awake last night well into this morning feeling depressed, questioning what I am doing here (not in a metaphysical “why do I exist” sort-of-way, but as in “what am I doing in this location on the planet” sort-of-way), questioning everything, missing home, and delving deeper into an overall sense of self-pity.

Yep, I said it.  And I’ll own it.  On the plus side, at least I recognize it.

As I sit here drinking my tea, writing this post, the birds have started to wake up.  I can hear their chirping outside in the massive tree that grows between my complex and the next.  And I can’t help but laugh at myself and think pratipaksa bhāvanam; which means: to contemplate on the opposite.

Am I struggling being back? Yes.  Just because I’ve made this little realization on my own will it be easier?  Not necessarily.

It is always difficult to leave places and people you love.  I am sure I will have a few more “rough” days and/or nights, but I am thankful that we were able to go back, I am grateful for the time I had with each of my friends and family members.  I may continue to have a few pity-parties here and there, I may cry, or get depressed, or even angry.  But I will work towards working through it.  And that’s the best I can do.

Struggling to Adjust

It’s been a few weeks since my last post.  Mainly because I didn’t think I would keep writing after I finished my course.  After all, the original point of this blog was to journal my experience during my yoga teacher training program.

So what’s made me decide to keep writing?

Brace yourself, this may come as a shock (insert sarcasm here), I’ve realized that while the program may be over, the lessons, the applications, the practices are not. Shocking! I know. ;)

But it has been a struggle.

I wasn’t prepared for  how difficult it would be to transition back to the real world with real responsibilities.  Obviously, I knew there would be an adjustment period.  But I had not considered just how big of an adjustment it would be. As one friend put it: “I am glad to be home, but I feel like something is missing.”

It’s ridiculous, and a bit frustrating, how easy it is to fall back into old habits.  Certain things I’ve been managing to keep up pretty well; others, not so much:  Daily asana practice has become almost second nature, my day feels off with out it.  But daily mediation rarely occurs.  Maintaining a vegan lifestyle thus far has been easy; but practicing Pranayama, breathing exercises, has been nonexistent. My sleeping cycles have been completely off, partly because it is just flat-out impractical for me to get to bed by 21:30, so of course I wake up later to accommodate.

So much for that 21-day theory … ;)

But the real struggle comes in trying to continue to practice what I’ve learned.  To apply the teachings and techniques to my real, everyday life.  The routine is still important; though, I’ve  had to accept the fact that it’s simply not possible to maintain the exact same schedule that I had during the program, and I’m okay with that.  I’m working towards figuring out my own routine that works in accordance with my schedule, my life, my responsibilities.  But its surprisingly more difficult than it seems – granted, it probably doesn’t help that just as I am settling in, we are leaving to go back home for a few weeks.

So to get back to the question at hand… why continue to write?  I guess for the same reason I started this whole thing in the beginning.  To journal my progress, my discoveries, and what I continue to learn along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fini!

Graduating Class

Graduating Class July 2014

I did it!  I’m done, finished, it’s over!

A month of living, learning, studying, practicing, meditating, completed; and I’m left wondering, What the hell just happened!?!

Where did the time go? I can’t believe it’s over!  Hell, I can’t believe I did it! It doesn’t seem real.  Yet somehow, it is.  We learned so much, it will be a while before I’m able to fully process everything, absorb everything, and integrate even some of it into my life. I don’t think I’ve even fully registered that I just accomplished something that I have wanted to do for years.

I met the most amazing people on this journey; each with their own stories, their own challenges, goals, and life paths.  Each offering lessons and opportunities to learn and grow from them / with them.

I am thankful for, and humbled by, each of my fellow classmates, my teachers, the support of family, friends, and the online community here.

It’s been a truly remarkable experience.

With Love and Gratitude,
Danie

 

The Final Countdown

It’s our last week of training! Which means our test is literally around the corner. This also means I will be in massive study mode during my free time for the remainder my stay here.

Three weeks have flown by, and I can hardly believe I’m in the home stretch. Which, is actually kind of a good thing, because I honestly don’t think I could put anymore information into my brain at the moment. As it is, I feel like I’m walking around on auto-pilot.

So apologies in advance (for those that care ;) ), this will likely be my last post until after my test.

Wish me luck :)

Twenty One Days

We are twenty one days into the program! They say it takes twenty one days to form a new habit. To cultivate a practice (for good or ill) to the point where it becomes automatic. Based on this theory, and the structure of the program, the following habits should now be imbedded in my everyday life:

  • Waking up before sunrise
  • Meditating first thing in the morning
  • Asana practice
  • Vegan lifestyle
  • Eating an early dinner (18:30)
  • Going to bed early (21:30)

When I first learned what our daily schedule would be I was a little apprehensive, mainly due to the 5:30 wake-up call. After all, anyone who knows me can attest that I am not a “morning person.” I was already a vegetarian, so a vegan diet didn’t concern me. But, I was used to eating late dinners and going to bed late. The rest, I just considered par for the course.

I’ll be the first to admit, waking up at 5:30 was definitely challenging. Many times I wanted to crawl back under the covers and hide. But today was different. It was not only easy to wake up, but I was up before my alarm, alert and ready to go. (Granted, I took a nap today after breakfast – it is our day off, and it was the first nap I’ve had in three weeks, so I think I get a pass ;) ). What I didn’t expect in all this is that I actually – dare I say it – like getting up early! I feel more productive, more focused, and I have more time (obviously).

So maybe there’s something to this twenty-one-day theory after all. And then again, maybe things will go back to the way they were once the real world comes in to play. I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

Slowing Down

After my little bout of emotionality, I took some time to be alone, focusing on myself and my studies. I sat away from my fellow students during meals, going to my room, or our library, to study. I even spent time away from the blog. I just sat and focused without focussing (if that makes sense).

I slowed down.

It’s amazing the things that you notice when you take the time to notice; to slow down and observe. Whether it’s yourself or your environment. For example, when was the last time you gave any attention to ants? Yes, ants. Beings so small, no one really notices them, except of course when they become an inconvenience. Now, before you go thinking I’m crazy and write me off, hear – or rather, read – me out.

Last night there was a massive swarm of flying ants outside my door, so many of them that I could hardly get into my room without taking them all in with me. Once inside, I took my bug-spray (not very “yoga” of me I know) and sprayed the door frame and bottom of the door (there’s a .5 cm gap) to keep them from coming in my room. Later that night, I went to turn the lights off and happened to glance up at the ceiling. Above the door, where the main wall and ceiling meet, I noticed a small round patch, roughly the size of ping-pong ball, of small ants. I can only assume, in an effort to get away from the bug spray, they had huddled together there. They must have been in the door frame or near it when I sprayed. As I watched them, one ant left the group and ventured down tentatively toward the door frame. It walked around the sprayed area as if testing to see if it was safe. Then walked back up to join the rest. In the morning they were all gone. There were / are no ants inside my room, and no dead little bodies anywhere. They must have made there way out.  Which is pretty amazing if you think about it.

It doesn’t matter if you take time to notice ants, or flowers, or the way the sun feels. It’s not always so important what you are paying attention to, but that you are paying attention.

When we slow down, even a bit, we start to notice more, and by noticing more we have the potential to not only learn more, but to appreciate life/things/people a little more.

“There is never nothing going on.” – The Peaceful Warrior

Overwhelmed

The course is now more than half way done! In between classes I’ve been trying to study; yesterday, we even got a study break! But, this week has been tough. Today, most of all.

Mostly, I was an emotional mess. Which is unusual for me. Nothing was particularly wrong, but I seemed to be on the verge of tears all morning. In meditation, I struggled to focus. In asana practice, I felt drained. At breakfast, I nearly broke down at the table. I did finally succumb to my emotions back in my room. Not a full melt down, but I did cry, and can’t exactly tell you why. I tried to talk to my husband, but the service wouldn’t connect. So I sat alone on my bed and just cried. For no apparent reason. After which, my emotional state didn’t really improve.

During lecture we watched a speech given by Gary Yourofsky regarding the meat, dairy, and poultry industry; which of course showed footage of the horrific abuse and mistreatment of farm animals, causing more intense feelings to surface. The day came to an end with a fellow student sharing a personal tragedy with us. Needless to say, we were all moved.

Today was one hell of a day. By the time dinner rolled around I felt as if someone had taken steal wool and scrubbed my insides raw.

When I was finally able to reach my husband, he reminded me that I’m not this person that can sit and be surrounded by constant stimulation and input. I need time and space to myself.

I think what happened today is kind of like when you work all the time and never get sick because you won’t “allow” yourself to get sick. Then you go on vacation, and what happens? You get sick! Your body finally has a chance to relax, so everything you were “putting off” catches up to you in a big fast furious way.

In my case, our study break yesterday gave my brain a chance to relax and play catch-up, and in doing so, left me completely overwhelmed and vulnerable.

In the mix of the excitement of the program, everything we are learning, and all the connections with one another that are forming, I’ve neglected my own needs. I’ve neglected my Dharma, my duty to myself. And it finally caught up to me.

Sometimes we need someone who knows us to point out the obvious, and sometime life does it for us in a big unbridled way.  Sometimes, like today, we get both.

Owning Mistakes

I don’t know if it’s the atmosphere, or all the different energies of various people surrounding me, but I started to notice a shift in my own personality. And not necessarily in a good way. My own energy seems to be rapidly shifting in cycles ranging from calm and relaxed to overly energetic and intense. For the last few days it’s been sporadic at best.

Today, I met with my group for a project we have to work on. I dislike group projects, I always have. I think this attitude stems from having so many group assignments in college and always having one person (or more) that slacks off. – I really don’t care to have my grade dependent on other peoples effort.

Anyway, we were siting together brainstorming and I kept “sharing” my thoughts and ideas. Which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, except that I kept talking, and talking, and talking. Right over my friend! So much so that he actually said “Can you stop talking over me.” It was like a slap in the face (in a good way). I was a bit in shock with myself for being so rude, and immediately apologized.

I don’t know what came over me. And the awful part is, I was somewhat aware of what I was doing, while I was doing it, but couldn’t seem to stop myself. Even though my friend accepted my apology, I felt bad about it the rest of the day. I kept reflecting on that interaction and realized I had done the same thing, to the same friend, the day before!

I couldn’t help but think: “What is wrong with me?” I can’t stand when people talk over other people. It’s rude and disrespectful. I really don’t like when it’s done to me, so I actively try to not do this to other people. And there I was, doing just that! I had become that person, not just once, but twice!

I sought out my friend, and again apologized for my behavior earlier, and for the day before. I don’t think he was really all that bothered by it; but I was, and that’s why it was important for me to not only own my mistakes and behavior, but apologize for any hurt (even if it was slight) that I may have caused.

There’s a quote by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry that says:

“That is the the hardest thing of all. It is much harder to judge yourself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself then you’re truly a wise man.”

Today was a lesson in this. In being more mindful of myself, my thoughts, my actions and the affect they have on others.

Discipline

I lack discipline. I’ve struggled with this my whole life. Unless there is an external commitment, I struggle to follow through. Had it not been for this course and environment, today would have been the day I lost my willpower. I was so tired last night (as you may know from my last post) that after working on an assignment I passed out. I forgot to practice my breathing techniques, to write down my positive things, and just crawled into bed exhausted.

This morning I slept through my first alarm. Even after the second alarm, I would have gladly gone back to sleep, and if not for having to be in class, I would have.

To give you an idea, our day starts with a 5:30 wake up call and goes all the way through to 18:30 when we get dinner and have study time and assignments. Of course, there is breakfast and lunch during the day; but it’s an intensive day packed with tons of information. And today would have been my breaking point under normal circumstances.

I’m glad for the routine. I’m glad for the external commitment, and that I have to push myself in this process (especially to get up on time, even though today was a struggle). It’s teaching me that I can do it, even when I don’t feel like it. And it’s a daily reminder that I need to be more disciplined with myself, in my life, outside of this experience.

I’m exhausted

The first week of training went by rather quickly, and even though I wasn’t always getting a full nights sleep, I was able to be fully present and energetic throughout each day. But this week has been a bit tougher. I’m tired. Both mentally and physically exhausted. Despite getting sleep, I’m drained.

I know it’s just the schedule and workload catching up to me, and I’m working through it, but it’s tough. Today went by in a bit of a blur. We discussed the Bhagavad Gita, and had a class in Ayurveda. Everything was interesting and there was a ton of information, unfortunately I just don’t have the brain power right now to really reflect, or elaborate on them. So please accept my sincerest apologies. I’m off to bed, here’s hoping tomorrow is a bit more productive.

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