Finding Strength Through Struggle
To think that each of us experience a shift of energy within our bodies, minds and souls, a belief that we are connected to the seasons, is something that resonates with me. Call me a tree hugging flower child, but I know you’ve felt it too. Winter is heavy and dark, a time when we withdraw and go inward, while spring is fresh and light, a time for renewal and rebirth.
Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, teaches us how to live in harmony with nature through a practice of balance. It is a Sanskrit word that translates as “the wisdom of life” or “the knowledge of longevity.” If you’re interested in learning more, we’d love to have you join us for one of our Detox & Yoga Retreats.
In withdrawing and going inward this past winter I discovered a great deal of fear, confusion, discontentment and restlessness. Unwilling to face the truth of the matter, I distracted myself by planning what was to be the greatest adventure of my life: farming. It’s not nearly as glamorous as my hopes of backpacking through Europe, or as noble as my intention of going on the World Race, but I was convinced that it would change my life.
I said yes to the first host who responded to my inquiry, choosing an animal farm in Virginia. The lack of options for farming in the winter, combined with finding an open-minded farm to take my (then) girlfriend and I, left us with limited choices. A month or so out from my departure – now solo – a dear friend told me I wouldn’t find what I was looking for in Virginia;
“I’m not saying it’s the wrong decision — I don’t know that. I just know that what you’re looking for is already within you.”
It was the very opposite of what I wanted to hear, but it was exactly what I needed. Of course I was searching for something, I just hadn’t realized it until that moment.
I wanted meaning, direction, purpose, and passion… but, more than anything, I wanted to escape the growing void within me.
I’d fractured my ankle. I was losing my job. I was miserable in my relationship. I was lost, and I was afraid. Of course Virginia was my escape. I could place my future identity in an adventure that seemed so much better than the dark hole I was sinking into. There was no realistic thinking or planning around the idea – I didn’t even know how I was going to pack my belongings – I was simply running away to a fantasy as quickly as I knew how.
One week from leaving, 10 days after my last day at work, I called the trip off. I was forcing it, but it would take me a week to figure that out. The reality was, I was terrified and I knew something wasn’t right. Having told everyone about my adventure (grocery clerks and car mechanics included), I was embarrassed.
Luckily, I didn’t have to drive across the country to spend my days waking up before dawn, feeding pigs in the freezing cold and watching them go off to their death. Instead, I experienced something that felt much more difficult: a dying of self. I was forcing so many things that I thought I wanted into my life, and when they didn’t fit, I only pushed harder.
As the trees weathered the winter, so did I. Holding on became so difficult that the only choice I had was to let go. With my friend’s advice playing on repeat in my head, I made a decision to face and embrace what was actually making me afraid, what I was running from. I ceased trying to understand why so many lovely things in my life had withered and died. I stopped forcing and fighting. I stopped asking for things to just go my way. It was painful in so many ways. I cried. I screamed. I threw fits. I didn’t see the point or understand why everything had to be so difficult all at once. But looking back I am able to see the leaves that had once kept my branches feeling safe, protected, and beautiful had served their purpose. That standing alone, I was strong and safe; I had roots.
As the trees begin to grow new leaves, I am excited to be experiencing the rebirth and renewal that has come with spring. I’ve started journaling again. I’ve started a meditation practice of walking. I’ve thrown myself the harder into into helping alcoholic women around me. I’ve found that once I stopped forcing my own self-will, yes I feel discomfort, but it has been followed by a much greater sense of trust, clarity, relief and purpose.
Spring: The Season of Renewal
As we enter a new season, it’s important to take time and space to pause, reflect and reassess. What hardship have you experienced, recently or in the past? Are you still holding onto pieces of it? Maybe you haven’t experienced any hardships lately, but you’re caught up in the busyness of life.
Pause: Take some space to breathe. Go for a long walk around your neighborhood or a local park, find a quiet place to do a sitting meditation, enjoy a cup of coffee in your own backyard, go for a bike ride. Get out in nature.
Reflect: Take time to think through some thoughts, or maybe even journal. Where does your time go? Do you enjoy what you’re doing? Are you taking time to relax and enjoy life? Is there something in your life that doesn’t feel quite right – are you forcing it?
Reassess: Make a decision to make some changes. What’s important to you? Are you making time for that? What isn’t serving you? How can you let go of it?
Then consider this:
“Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene.”
-Arthur Christopher Benson
Remember the journey of letting go and growing is a constant one. Let go of the urge to have everything just right, or even right now. Step into spring, with your face lifted to the sun, your eyes taking in the beauty and your heart open to renewal. And again, if interested in continuing your own journey to renewal, we’d love to have you join us for any one of our upcoming Yoga Retreats.