Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How Sweet It Is

I’ve been back at home for a little over a week, and it has taken me about that long to wrap my head around what just happened to me. It is kind of crazy being back home. I feel like I was just packing my suitcase in my guest bedroom and bawling my eyes out on the way to the airport. But alas, a mind-blowing, life-altering 9-weeks has occurred, and now I am back. Full speed ahead.

I’m trying to figure out how to wrap up my overall teacher training experience, and without further ado, I think a continuous stream-of-consciousness chronicle may ensue. First of all, I have to say, teacher training was the hardest and best thing I have ever experienced. What a profound thing, having 9 weeks to 100% focus on myself. I found a deeper sense of self in those 9 weeks. It’s funny, I realized about 3 weeks in that I was a lot different at training than I am at home. But maybe that was the start of this so-called transformation. At home, I’ve always been the ring-leader, surrounded by friends, and this outgoing life of the party. I didn’t know what to do with myself at training. I felt out of place the first couple of weeks, not knowing where I fit in. Not knowing who these people were that I was with, and not sure if I was really ready to let them in. I ended up being more of a loner. I most definitely made a few life-long friends along the way that I had some absolutely wonderful experiences with. But I enjoyed my time spent with a couple of friends at a time, if not by myself. I got to spend time taking things in at my own speed, with my own heart, without any distractions. I was introspective and spent a lot of time reflecting on life. It was such a valuable time for me to learn about me.

The hardest thing for me throughout training was, by far, coping with my irrational fear of public speaking. Every single day, I’d have anxiety about it. Will we have posture clinic today? Will I be able to breathe? Will I be able to control my shaky voice so that they can’t see how out of control my fear is? It was a constant monkey on my back. And what was hardest was I truly had no idea how to control it. One day, a few Pranayama Deep Breathing exercises would do it, but the next day I’d have sweat dripping down my back, blurry vision and a thumping heart. The fact that I got up there every day, even with my inner craziness, was a huge accomplishment for me. Not that I actually had a choice! I can’t say if I will ever be 100% confident getting up in front of people, but now that I have started teaching, I know I can do it. THAT is when the real accomplishment sunk in. (More on teaching later.)

In general, I feel like we had a really great class. Most of the people I met were just plain good folks. We had a strong group of yoga practicioners. No major drama happened in the hot room. In fact, from all the hype I heard prior to going to training, I don’t think that anyone ran out of the room puking. In the 97 classes that I took, I left the room once, and sat out postures in a total of 8 classes. In those eight classes, I sat out only one posture in four of them. I’m proud of myself for the way I practiced in the Big Top. I had very strong focus and determination to just do the damn yoga to the best of my ability. Even when I was surviving off of 3 hours of sleep from the night before, I told myself that the harder I worked, the better I was going to feel and the more energy I would gain. And when my poor, beat down body (you know the one that was possessed by the 84 year old man with bad knees) was begging for me to stop, I pushed through. I did what I could do on that day, to the very best of my ability.

Regarding the hot room, well, I think we were pretty lucky. For me, the conditions were completely bearable. In my central Massachusetts studio, we have to deal with HUMIDITY. The Big Top conditions in the desert were actually a lot easier for me than my home studio. The heat was dry. It was definitely HOT, don’t get me wrong. And with 350 human bodies generating heat, the humidity was decent. But I feel like we were very lucky, especially since I had heard such horror stories about the past training held in Alcupulco. Which brings me to my next topic… Sleep (or lack thereof).

I have a theory. Since our conditions in the yoga room were pretty good, and as a whole, we were all really strong in there, Bikram had to find a way to “break us down”. And so our class was the guinea pig on extreme lack of sleep. When Bikram was around (which I’d say was about 6 weeks), our average time out of lecture was about 3:15 am. We felt incredibly lucky to be out of the lecture hall at 2am, and cursed our watches other nights as we watched the minute hand tick, tick, tick… 3:30… 4:00… 5:00… 5:30… Oh, hello sunrise!! I never expected to be having high school flashbacks of drug-induced, all-nighters, walking out into the bright morning sun, AT YOGA CAMP!!! I may never understand the mentality behind this aspect of training. All I can say is that I was there, every night, for every lecture, every movie, and every episode of Maharbarhat. Then I was up every morning with a fairly happy, smiling face, ready to take on my day. One of the best pieces of advice I got from one of my teachers, Sunny, was to simply set my intention every day as a positive one. Instead of waking up with dread, knowing I only got 3 hours of sleep for the night, I’d wake up saying, “I got 3 solid hours of sleep last night! SWEET!” And you know what? It worked. The power of the mind is incredible. As Bikram told us time and time again, “Negative energy is 95% more powerful than positive energy.” With that intention set, I feel like I really was able to allow myself to have the best experience possible. Again, I’m not going to fool anyone on this, I did have my days where I was nodding off in the middle of lectures and wanted to just crawl to my room for a long final savasana. But the overwhelming majority of the time, I dealt with it, and dealt with it well.

Removing myself from everything in the world that I know was also a hard thing for me. I was insanely homesick for the first few weeks, and missed Tim more than I ever thought I would. What a wonderful thing that is though. I’d sit back sometimes and feel like I was the luckiest woman in the world. I think I didn’t know how lucky I was until I signed up for this 9 week extravaganza, and once I did, my whole world turned upside down. I remember driving to the airport with Tim and suddenly saying, “What the hell am I doing?” And now I know that it was 100% the right thing to do. Our marriage has grown even stronger, and the love I feel is brand new. The support Tim gave me throughout training was impeccable. Somehow, he knew what I needed and when I needed it. And he knew when I just didn’t have the juice to communicate, and just say good night. I don’t think I quite explain it, but it was astoundingly powerful.

I learned so much about myself. I found how strong I am. I found how happy I am. I found a power within myself that I never knew I had. It is so hard to explain the way I feel. It’s kind of just an inner peace. I am present every moment, and feeling more than I have ever felt before. It is a knowledge that I have deep within me that no one can take away from me. It’s not something I can’t write about or talk about, it just is.

And how sweet it is.

(Oh yeah, chopped off 11 inches of my hair when I got home, too!)