I graduated from Boston Yoga School's 200-hour yoga teacher training yesterday and the title of this post kind of says it all.
It was a five month journey that I am quite sure I will be peeling the layers back from for some time to come, but I just wanted to share a few initial thoughts here while the experience is still raw. And it really is just that: raw. The sort of raw that comes from the gentle, but ceaseless, scrubbing away of protective layers.
Here's the thing. It is virtually impossible to spend five months nearly constantly talking about awareness-awareness-awareness without becoming, ummm, more aware. And the tricky thing about awareness is that it's an impossible-to-unring bell. Once you know that something is, it gets pretty hard to pretend it isn't. You know?
And the crazy thing about this training is that more often than not, that awareness joined forces with the teachings in such a subtle way that I would think I walked away from a weekend workshop with one or two new insights only to find myself pummeled by them (seemingly out of nowhere) throughout the following weeks.
Case in point...
Our final full teaching weekend was an anatomy weekend. As you may expect, much of the theme to our training in general centered around the connectedness of mind/body/energy and the same was certainly true of the approach our anatomy training took. I went into the weekend prepared for learning about things like the relationship between our muscles and layers of fascia, and how our breathing affects our nervous system. Which, of course, we did. But during the course of the weekend, Zach repeated an idea several times in several ways: the body wants to be healed and it wants to be whole. Not exactly revolutionary on its own, I know, but when it became entwined with a little of that pesky awareness, it became exactly that- revolutionary- for me.
As it turns out, awareness had been nudging a bit at the edges of something I'd been hiding from. Something that I'd formed a little protective container around so that I could stick it on a basement shelf in my consciousness and ignore it. It had a little bit to do with ego and identity. It had a little to do with my cancer history. And when awareness decided to meet up with this idea that Zach kept repeating, I suddenly found myself standing with the container shattered and this realization naked and throbbing in my hands: I've thought of my body as a separate entity, an enemy who wanted to kill me, since my 2004 ovarian diagnosis and I've been punishing it in one way or another ever since. If what Zach was saying was true, and awareness seemed to be backing him up, then my body wasn't the enemy, it wasn't separate from me at all. It was trying to heal itself, trying to be whole. And my punishment was not helping. Maybe this doesn't seem like much of a revelation to you, but it rocked me to my core. And it re-wrote every decision I've made about how I've cared for myself over the past decade plus.
And this is my experience in a nutshell. Zach was talking about body systems. Chip was talking about the origins of Sanskrit and the Yoga Sutras. Brenna about how to do physical adjustments in a conscientious way. Kevin about daily practice and movement as a tool to gain greater awareness. But each time we gathered for learning and practice, it seemed that awareness took those teachings and used them to scour away more of the ways I hide, more of the ways I rationalize. More of those protective layers that really only form barriers to the person I want to be.
So...after five months of this, I still have no idea how to describe my experience in a way that can even come close to capturing it. All the words that come to mind make me feel like I should have my very own episode on JP Sears's Ultra-Spirituality channel (which, btw, if you haven't seen this, go over right now...hysterical!). So suffice it to say that it is an experience I'm still absorbing and expect to for an indefinite period of time to come. I learned SO. MUCH. MORE. than I was expecting to on every conceivable level. It was phenomenal.
***I would also very much like to publicly give my special thanks to Terry Cockburn of Freeport Yoga Company. Not only was she a dedicated and knowledgable co-director for our program, but she was unbelievably supportive on a personal level throughout the entire process. Her own dedication to study is an inspiration and I am just more grateful than I can express for her unwavering support!***