The beauty and struggle of spiritual practice
If you had asked me ten years ago where I would be in ten years time, I’m pretty sure this would not be the place. Anyone else with me on that? Equally, the blessings I have in my life are not the ones I asked for, the challenges in my life sometimes take me by surprise, and the pleasures in my life are not what billboard and magazines promised me.
In a move I could never have planned or anticipated, yoga became my way of life and I suddenly found myself as ‘spiritual’. Within the framework of yoga philosophy I realised a part of myself could be considered divine, and outside of the yoga philosophy (which can be patriarchal and archaic) I discovered the menstrual cycle was a yoga practice, that my relationships were a yoga practice, and the seasons of the Earth had so much to teach me. After years of being tense and busy, I started to open up, relax and breathe.
We are in a pivotal time of the evolution of human thought and experience. The ‘Information Age’ that we live in is so new to us, to our biology, and we have never been more disconnected from the land we live on, or our bodies. But we are adapting and changing.
The rise in popularity of yoga is such a good thing. Yoga can help us to feel again, to become comfortable with all of our emotions, and to rise above the banality of our thoughts. Working with the cycles of nature, and for women, the menstrual cycle, can help us discover our deeply rooted connection with the earth.
This is not the work I planned to be doing. But here I am, and how lucky yet challenged I am, how frustrating yet wonderful it can be.
This blog is a simple sharing from my heart. No top tips or particular inspiration today, just gentle insight into why teaching about yoga, the menstrual cycle, and deep rest, has been full of both beauty and struggle.
Be the change…
This work is a blessing, but it is also hard work. I question myself, wonder if I am authentic / enlightened / knowledgeable enough to be sharing these practices. The fact I have yoga helps me to understand these questions as self-sabotage from the ego, which fears that I might finally let go of self-doubt and step fully into life, knowing the risks and challenges that lie ahead - and yet stepping fully in anyway.
When students are kind enough to tell me how grateful they are, how charting their menstrual cycles has changed their lives or how yoga has taught them how to rest and feel safe, I remember feeling the same. I still do feel the same, and so I know that I must continue to share these teachings, to not let myself get disheartened or disillusioned by consumerism, politics or my own private weariness.
I must remember that it is not my work to churn out fitness yoga, to sit on a stage and elevate myself above my students - and not not compare myself to those who do, for if they are truly happy in what they do, so be it. I am no longer on a linear path. I am no longer buying into the idea that slaving away in a joyless job is an achievement despite the temptation of impressive job titles and salaries.
I must remember that for decades, centuries, that the feminine has been suppressed, controlled and tamed and I am a small yet important part of bringing it back to life through the menstrual cycle work. I must remember that whilst yoga is being used extensively for those seeking the ‘perfect’ body or posture, there is a real, deep and urgent need for radical rest. I must remember that this is scary for women and men, just as it is scary for me, and in acknowledging the fear, it becomes a little less powerful.
And so, although sometimes it feels too hard, sometimes it feels impossible, and sometimes I wonder what on earth got me here, the connection I have forged through practice, effort, discipline and kindness is deep within my heart.
How do you feel about your spiritual practices? Do you have a spiritual practice? What do those words mean to you? Please share. I’d love to hear from you.