Have you ever stopped something mid-stream to understand it better? Or even lost something that you didn’t expect?
Maybe by choice, or maybe not?
Perhaps a job, a relationship, a hobby, a friendship or even a habit.
There is much to be learned in that space. The space in between doing and doing, where you do nothing. Some of us may camp out there for extended periods of time, while others have yet to experience that space for various reasons. When we are not doing, many things can be glaringly obvious, and some of us may not be ready or equipped to handle that raw truth. Alternatively, we may not even know we have permission to reside in that space, based on upbringing and familial or societal conditioning.
This space in between has always been of interest to me. It is a practice. I love the quiet, alone time, the non-notes in music that just hang in emptiness, the stillness between yoga poses on the mat, the place where you take time off from a workout regimen or a favorite food. It can be longer, like the breaks in the day, or the week, or the year, where nothing happens. Then, sometimes when you least expect it, you emerge out of other end of that break - safe, peaceful and stronger, despite the fear of being in nothingness. Of being nothing.
What is that nothingness that we all fear so much? Not mattering? Not being worthy of this life? Not meaning anything to those around us? Or maybe not existing, on some existential level. If we are doing, we must be existing. We must mean something to someone, because we can see those someones or be those somethings, and then we can be defined. Add a creative Instagram filter to it, and blammo, here I am world, I exist. And I have the likes to prove it.
My latest practice has lasted for just over one year. For one year, I stopped teaching yoga. I started this practice by accident. I moved here to North County San Diego, just a few miles from where Yogananda built his temple, and since, many teachers have journeyed to learn from the Masters. Sacred spaces and shrines surround me here, and I can feel a higher vibrational energy in all, with never ending sunlight, ocean views and opportunities for self-reflection and growth throughout the vast spiritual community.
So, I found myself here, in an endless buffet of all-you-can-practice yoga studios, and I suddenly wanted no part in teaching in any of them. I began questioning everything. My value as a teacher, my worth, my legitimacy as a guide. I continued to practice, here in my home, and flitting from studio to studio, workshop to workshop. Mostly landing in sound healing sessions where no physical exertion was needed, and no voices besides the singing of the bowls, could be heard. I liked the space it offered, opposing the lack of space and silence offered in so many classes.
I wondered if I could even fit into this yoga landscape. Was my journey real and truthful, or was it one that just mimicked my teachers, things I have read. At studios throughout this community, I met teachers who had only started their yoga journey recently, and yet had the booming confidence to post beautiful pictures of themselves posing online. They seemed to talk endlessly through meditation, or at least that's what I was hearing.
I was falling into judgement and critique, first of myself, which then quickly turned into external judgement of any teacher around me, and the idea of yoga in general. Through studying the teachings of Ahimsa, I know this to be a pitfall, yet, no matter how much my brain comprehends the need to not judge, I can so easily fall into a pattern of critical judgement when least expected.
I was not good enough. I knew nothing. I haven’t had enough training. I don’t practice enough. And I certainly am not fit to teach anybody, let alone give myself guidance.
The script became louder and louder, as the space in between grew vaster and more cavernous.
The more time went on, and the more people asked if I was teaching, the further I fell down the rabbit hole of unworthiness and despair. Now everyone would know my secret of unworthiness. These are the dark spaces and shadows that reside within in all of us, if we look closely. Each of us has different, shadow sides to be explored, and some of us will never step a toe into them…or at least, not yet or on purpose.
The thing about the space in between, is if you are in it – and present – there are always opportunities to learn, if willing. It requires finding comfort in discomfort. And the ability to discern and filter which voices get to reside in your head.
The time is not of consequence. It can be a few hours, or a few years. Hindsight from the other side of the space is where the lessons reside....where faith is discovered or restored. From what I have learned throughout this life, when faced with losing something I thought defined me, I have always made it through the space, and remember what it felt like to be standing on the other side - still breathing and open to what was next. Still able to access joy. Still able to experience and give love. That “lost thing” – or person, profession or idea- was not me, and it is not you, and does not have the power to decide our worth or capacity for love.
I take comfort tonight knowing I have made it through a space of uncertainty like this before, and I have faith that I will again. At this point, all I can do is surrender. Release the story I have told myself of not being enough, and make more space for an expanded version of myself to step forward out of the shadows – one who is okay with not knowing what's next. It is less about teaching others, but rather revealing what is underneath my own layers. If that revelation is meant to help others, I believe the next train will show up at the platform, just in time, and not a moment sooner. Until then, I will just hang here, doing much of nothing, well almost nothing – I am still breathing, learning, and able to love, and for that, I am grateful.