Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self. – The Bhagavad Gita
It was Liberation Day in Holland when I called my manager I would not come back to work for a while. Now almost a year ago I think that it was my own liberation day as well.
I recovered from my burn out with the same perseverance I got into it. Psychotherapy, all sorts of alternative therapy, keeping a diary, walking 10k barefoot and completely switching off from the online world where a few things I did on a daily basis. Which resulted in the fact that I was fully back at work after five months, including reintegration. Way to soon, but the fact that we had a plan to go away for six months was that magic tangerine spot on the horizon that kept me going.
The day before we left we still had to transfer our work, apartment and stuff so we arrived in Goa pretty stressed up. We booked our hotel a night too late we realized when there was nobody to open the door for us. Fully packed and jet-lagged we joined a few homeless sitting on the couch outside in the middle of the night. It was a pretty rough landing. And it took us almost half of the course to catch up with the new yogic routine from 06:00 a.m until 08:00 p.m six days a week with 38 degrees. We both suffered from the famous Delhi Belly in the first week and spent more hours lying down in the bathroom then the bedroom.
Outside your comfort zone
But after two weeks a lot of things already changed. I stepped back from the 300 hours teacher training, where peacock and handstand were the norm and joined Thijs in the other group. It felt good to be reunited again. I went through a lot in that first two weeks. My body was completely upset. I was not able to digest my food and my mind and belly kept me busy all night. I was extremely tired during the day and during the long Ayurveda workshops I felt a few times asleep with my eyes wide open. And the most important thing, I was so insecure again about my physical and mental abilities that I had a major backslide.
I was anxious that I was never able to complete the course. The fact that on day one I received some upfront negative comments about my abilities and body where not really helpful in that process. On the other hand I realized that when someone goes to India for an advanced yoga teacher training and puts a lot of money into it, he or she probably wants to get something out of it. While for me, not wanting something out of it was the only goal. Maybe that was the sweet spot that gave me back the most; a new shape and understanding of the self. To really feel what it means to embrace your own shadow. The unconscious aspect of our personality which our conscious ego does not identify in itself. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote some interesting stuff about that.
Because it seems that being positive nowadays is becoming a new form of moral correctness. We judge ourselves for having so called ‘’bad emotions’’ like sadness, fear, jealousy and anger. Or we actively try to push those feelings away. But when we do that, we do not see these emotions as inherently valuable as well. And at the same time we lose the capacity to develop our skills to deal with the world how it is, not as we wish it to be. Of course, we don’t want to feel disappointed, unwanted or sad. But only dead people never feel stress of failure. And how can we leave the world a better place if we do not want to feel discomfort? Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.
But you can not go through discomfort without a little help from others. Thanks to the loving kindness of the extraordinary teachers Mahi and Akshey I was able to dive through hours of discomfort. In the second week Mahi asked me to step forward during a body reading session. In a few seconds he pointed out the points on my hip and shoulder where I have injuries due to two accidents. He bombarded me into his special project and gave me some more attention. There was too much acidity in my body because my muscles where too contracted and in the area around my navel was a huge block. Therefore I was not able to keep the prana within my body. He gave me some tips and deep supported backbends. I felt ashamed and disabled in front of 30 people. But ever since then I practice full wheel, camel and headstand daily and I never felt so energized and fired up from the inside.
In our last week Akshey guided us into a meditation session of one hour singing the mantra Aum gan ganpatye namha 108 times over and over again. We were practicing Dharana. When you practice dharana, which is the second state of meditation, it means that you put all your mental awareness into one topic or mantra so you can dive deeper in your own inside world. That became easier, because we were already meditating for a few weeks by then. Suddenly after twenty minutes of singing my mind was flowing like a quiet river, nothing else was happening. Slowly I became so absorbed by the singing of the mantra that my mind became one with it. The river slowly passed through my eyes, and suddenly I could feel the energy rising up. From the middle of the sit-bones travelling up to the spine, into my head and trough the tops of my fingers. I forget about my past, my thoughts, my future and myself. I strongly felt that we all want the same loving kindness, experience the same fears and have the same needs. It was pure bliss to feel that indeed, we are one. That moment was siddhi to me. I will never forget that once you close your I you open your eye.