I turned 50 this January. It feels like a significant time in my life. A time of growth and change not unlike the teenage years.
Now though, the long heard about shifts in the body herald a turning to the abundance of fall and a promise of the quiet days of winter rather than the fertility of spring. I value the wisdom that comes with age and experience, and have for a long time felt that as a yoga teacher it is my responsibility to witness my own aging without resistance. Rather than fighting to maintain the qualities of youth, I want to grow old with grace.
I have been taken aback when, at times, I see or feel the vintage of my middle-aged body and my reaction has reflected the youth-worshipping times of our culture rather than my own values. When this happens, I feel lucky to have a longtime practice that helps me witness my process rather than judge it. And to see it as another opportunity for compassion.
The similarity to adolescence does not stop there. Contemplating the year just past and the year ahead, I feel the same excitement and promise of youth. When I was young though, I let doubts drag me down into anxiety, lack of self worth and hopelessness. Now I see self doubt as a signal, a “klisht” thought pattern, dragging me into stories of separateness and keeping me from connection with Self. I see my weaknesses as an inevitable part of the whole, and find lifelong patterns beginning to change.
I have been gifted with incredible opportunities* and now see them coming together, to me and through me, in order to fulfill some purpose in the world. So I can no longer stay small. I cannot hide but must continue to learn, grow and share.
At 50, I am finally learning to reach out for help, to ask questions, even “stupid” questions. I am more likely to risk being seen or heard, and to share my thoughts, hopes or desires in a group.
A recent trip to the USA to learn from Dr Stephen Levin is a good case in point. Sitting around the dinner table at Dr/ Levin’s home with eight other biotensegrity enthusiasts, I learned that we were together because I had asked about the master class. I had seen a past class mentioned on the archive website. I asked if I would be considered eligible for such an event. Wow! Here I was sitting amongst geniuses, authors and innovators… and all because I had dared to ask a simple question. What a lesson that is!
This same weekend, I found my loud, enthusiastic eight-year-old self speaking with excitement. And I didn’t judge (too much) that boisterousness. I became aware of just how much I have pushed down in the name of calmness and presence. I remembered saying aloud to a class that I talk too much (a student’s response that she liked this about me did not really change my position). I realized that this passionate part of me needs to be heard.
So the weekend in DC was a time of big learning and growth, both personally and intellectually. The principles and implications of the biotensegrity paradigm continue to swirl in my mind, and slowly, slowly new understandings take shape. I bring new questions to my practice and find new insights arising. I am finding new doorways to freedom and ease in the body. I love how biotensegrity speaks both to yoga philosophy and to the seven vital principles of Vijnana Yoga. And it feels as though the journey has just begun. I look forward to sharing it and experiencing it with you.
*Much gratitude to my teachers and mentors including: Gioia Irwin and Orit Sen Gupta of the Vijnana Yoga lineage for many years; Susan Lowell of the Dr Stephen Levin Biotensegrity Archive this past year; and, more recently, Dr Stephen Levin, the originator of the biotensegrity paradigm.