It’s the beginning of our last week here, Week 9 already. Can you believe that? The last several weeks have flown by. In one way it all seems like one big blur, yet in another, each moment is amazing and clear, crystallized and perfect. The learning and suffering together, the love and unbelievable comradeship, these I will never, ever forget as long as I live!
Weeks 6 and 7 were my toughest weeks, by far! I think I am still recovering … actually, I’m not sure if recovering is the right word. Maintaining would be more appropriate. I am just trying my best to maintain and stay in that hot yoga tent doing every posture to the best of my ability, no matter what. My body is so tired and beyond stiff and sore. I think my hamstrings have shortened by at least 3 inches. So, I have to had to suck it up and surrender to the solution that many other trainees are trying here, an ancient solution my grandma and probably everyone (except me) on this entire earth has at one time or another tried: long hot epsom salt baths!
I am a shower person only, no baths! I don’t have time for such luxuries. But I have come to find out that the truth is I have been afraid of a long hot bath. Baths release WAY TOO MUCH! Way, way, way too much!!! I am dealing with enough heavy feelings and emotions all the time, especially in class: 90 minutes twice a day, 5 times a week and once on Saturday… I think that’s enough. Why should I have to force myself to sit in the bath and be still and reckon with all kinds of other feelings?
It has been proven to me again that pain is the touchstone to spiritual growth. All change for me (why, I don’t know) seems to begin with some form of torture or pain. (Hey, it’s “Bikram Yoga’s Torture Chamber…” but I digress.) So I have had to put all my old ideas of the atrocious bath on the shelf and surrender. What a perfect way to sum up my whole training here: being forced to do things that scare you to death and you’re certain are going to make you feel worse, but you HAVE to do them anyway. Poison kills the Poison.
I have been lucky enough or blessed or graced or whatever the word is to get out of my own way here, not questioning why with anything, to just do, and surrender. And I get to witness it happening to all of us! Miracle after miracle. Transformation after transformation. It is awesome. I see the glow and then I KNOW it works. So I have sat in that bath every day, no matter what, for the past 2 weeks. I have been forced to sit with me, reckon with me, forgive me, see the truth of me, my body and all the messed-up, unhealthy choices I have made in my life and to simply just let go. And on the practical side, there’s no way I could grab my heels at 8:30 a.m. otherwise.
I am learning how to love me and to accept myself on so many different levels. Self realization is first facing the truth about yourself in that mirror, and now… in a bathtub! I get to witness the truth of my love and compassion in the way I choose to react to the long, late-night lectures by keeping a huge smile of love and gratitude on my face. I am certain we will all get to sleep again. But we may never get to sit with Bikram, listen to him talk his truth, as he sees it, on this level for a long time to come.
Bikram is one of the greatest gurus of our time, confronting us, and all of Western civilization every second. Whether you agree with everything he says or not, it doesn’t matter. The point is to begin thinking outside of traditional Western thought, with its materialism and small-minded ideas. Our Western medical doctors take a SYMPTOMATIC approach to bad health, disease and illness rather than a PREVENTATIVE one. Many of the things Bikram says I have always believed, but somehow he has forced me to SEE it by slamming them in my face in a new way. It’s not always the nicest of ways. Maybe if he was all flowery about it, we wouldn’t hear it. There’s a saying, “If it ain’t rough, it ain’t right.” I have found another saying: “True compassion is learning how to be still while everything and everyone around you spins out of control.” It is so true! You have to learn how to be still in the eye of the storm, find self-acceptance, self-realization. A huge subject!
Having something doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know how to use it. The first step for me has been finding out what I have in the first place. Many people go through their entire life and never find out what they have, let alone how to use it. For me, it began with moving the body in and out of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises in a hot room with a huge mirror 2 years ago at Bikram Yoga Manhattan and now I have added a simple BATH!?!?!? Who would have thought? Self-love, self-care, self-nurture can begin with the smallest, kindest of acts, no matter how painful. I believe I am honestly falling back in love with myself here. So much of my life, the unhealthy choices and lifestyle over many years, I have had to reckon with and forgive. I am forgiven. Now to live it and to let go of it. Bikram says, you are HUMAN, first. That’s it, so simple. And for me Bikram yoga is teaching me how to be a human being.
Love you all and miss you so much. See you all on Monday, the 22nd!