As my yoga apprenticeship draws to a close, I am engulfed by waves of feeling that are completely unfamiliar to me. I have one class left, and am already mourning what may be lost in my day to day. I had thought my previous class was going to be hard in my emotional state, but as soon as I walked into the studio, the wash of calm came over me, and I was too filled with a sense of rightness to feel anything else.
Having the break from construction work, from constantly having to ignore my body's needs to serve someone else's purpose, the teaching and taking of yoga is such the opposite - reminding self and others that conversation with body may be the most important conversation of our lives - the push and pull in such opposite directions feels almost like choosing between life and death in a very real sense. And that starts to bleed into other aspects of life, like expression of creative self, of feeding curious, hungry parts of self, of inspiring growth in self. So I have looked with clear eyes on other parts of my life that I am giving time and energy to, but will not render out into something I want to be or have in the future. Sometimes we need things, like habits or jobs, to keep us moving forward into some kind of future and sense of security. But there comes a time where those things can begin to hinder us, because they are easier to continue doing, than to explore our boundaries and move beyond them. The yoga reminds me how much more is to be had inside of my own body - all of the things we aren't taught to explore or question or listen to. If, the more we do something, the more we become it (the mind AND muscles develop neural pathways and bulk up in the areas we exercise the most), the feeling of rightness when I walk into a yoga studio makes me increasingly aware of the opposite feeling in other places. Of how much more there is to be had in Life.
So I have been slowly turning down the freelance jobs I get offered that I am more than capable of doing, but that feed a future I am disinclined to be a part of. A lot of the entertainment work fosters aspects of the economic and cultural structures that I am finding myself fiercely against, and what is perpetuated in real lives that feed that machine, which only cares about money. But as I let those things go, so too do I lose the power I had to fulfill other people's needs, to be filled with and validated by achieving other people's desires and deadlines and budgets.
And the people that formed vast networks of support and deep understanding of the worlds we crawled around inside of together - the farther I remove myself from those layers of knowing and getting through the bullshit together - the less connected I am to those webs of people, as the similarity of our priorities and experiences evaporate. There will always be love, but our beliefs about our needs and desires are suddenly diametrically opposed. Awareness of the subjugation of our flesh and time and soul incites a revolution against those things, and not everybody is ready to fight that battle. The cost seems too great when you have learned to look at the value of your flesh as relative to the value of money.
Those things have meant life to me.
I learned so much about how to wield my body with power, how to use my words to move small armies of men with precision. I was able to find things that were stripped from me in childhood and rebuild a powerful seat for my soul. But redefining my sense of power means allowing myself to be emptied of previous concepts. Refusing to be defined by other people's needs means I have to let go of the feeling of being purpose driven by them. I must become a Vacuum, before I can be filled my own needs and my own purpose.
I never anticipated feeling so uprooted, because I have never had a sense of being rooted to something. The sting of feeling disconnected, untethered to time and space, and my sense of where I exist in proximity to those things has become suddenly overwhelming. But like the practice of pouring ourselves into asanas (yoga poses), something that shows us how we respond to intense and unfamiliar territory - I have always backed off too quickly to reach whatever lessons may lie on the other side. Missed out on the strength that may be born from learning to feel without running away. Of course I can't take anybody with me on a journey inside myself - turning inward is a necessarily singular path, even if I mourn the loss of what I once had. There are different rules in this game than ones I have gotten used to playing, so I have to let my habitual reactions fade away as they do not serve me here. The ways in which I communicate needs and desires will inherently have to change, as I navigate a landscape that has no map, and all of the external images and associations I've consumed in my lifetime can provide no assistance to an internal compass.
We must unlearn the constellations to see the stars.
- Jack Gilbert