What do you do when the shit hits the proverbial fan? We have all been there. That awful moment in your life when you realize the calamity that has become your daily experience is not going to go away quickly or easily. You will be forced to deal with it.
Up until quite recently in my life my approach has been to recoil, avoid, deny and outright hide from the challenge. There was a time in my life when I was so good at doing this I could actually convince myself, at least on an intellectual level, that nothing was wrong.
However, the symptoms would soon manifest in my body. Things would break. My immune system would fall apart, joints would ache, sleeping and eating habits would fall by the wayside until eventually I could no longer function in my daily routine.
My approach to crisis has dramatically changed in the wake of my deepening Yoga practice. I am no longer a denier and instead have become quite pleasantly adept at facing challenges squarely in the eye. It all comes down to changing your perception about what is happening to you. Is it a crisis or an opportunity?
For my first Yoga Teacher training I studied with a wonderful teacher named Daniel Clement in Nelson British Columbia. Dan recently wrote a book called "Your Wound is Your Gift." In his book Dan enumerates the many reasons we should look at these dark nights of the soul as gifts rather than obstacles.
It is in those moments of absolute crisis that the ego is rendered inert and the true self can emerge to face crisis with a level of grace and clarity that we don't realize we possess. In facing these challenges we grow as people and become more inspiringCumulatively to ourselves and others in the process.
During the past twelve months I have been visited by three gifts. In a relatively short space of time I underwent an ectopic pregnancy, I witnessed my parents business fail and their security threatened as well as the end of my ten year marriage. I write it out like a grocery shopping list. Each event on it's own had the power of an atomic bomb to transform the landscape of my life. Cumulatively they transformed my experience of life into another dimension where the only constant was change.
People, when talking about periods of intense change reference clever sayings like when it rains it pours. In my case it was more like pressing down hard on a gas pedal in a car hurtling down a treacherous mountain road and never letting up. It was constant sensation of being under threat with no end in sight. Each gift was delivered before the shine could fade from the old gift and the emotional impact of all three was intense to say the least.
These things have fire tested my beliefs and practice and yes, I absolutely do see them as gifts. I witnessed what a five thousand years old spiritual science can do when fully unleashed on real crisis. My yoga practice leapt off the mat and meditation cushion and went into battle with some of the worst fear, self doubt and gut wrenching grief I have ever experienced.
Yoga had become this incredibly powerful magical stuff had accumulated in my body and mind from my five years of dedicated practice that just deployed automatically like a life raft on a sinking vessel. All I had to do was get into that protective space and I knew everything was going to be just fine.
When talking to friends, family, colleagues and even health care providers I kept hearing panic. You must be so overwhelmed, terrified, sad etc. In truth I was all these things but I wasn't suffering and therefore I could witness the transformation that was taking place with curiosity and intrigue instead of horror.
My own self just seven years ago or so upon reading the above words would have called bullshit! There is no way my past self could have been convinced that the things I have been through could be in any way positive. Unfortunately, back then, I spent way too much of my precious time worrying about precisely these types of scenarios instead of enjoying the serenity of their absence.
I can now appreciate what my yoga practice has done for me. I understand what it is for. Here I am, still negotiating the upheaval of these three gifts in my life but I am not suffering and that has made all the difference.
This morning I practiced yoga at the end of a dock overlooking a beautiful mountain lake. In each posture the word gratitude resonated throughout my body and into that vast expansive breath taking space. A soft silent thank you was offered for all the beautiful gifts in my life.