Feeling Refreshed & Moving Forward

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"I honor the natural process of growth and transformation."
— Aarona Lea Pinchinson

The Moon Deck® (card #40), www.themoondeck.com


As an artist, my muse has always been the essence of the human experience. It was and still is my great interest. I am in awe of, and spiritually connected to what people do and how they go through their processes in order to achieve whatever it is that they accomplish. Since the beginning of time, humans have had to face and battle amazing odds, challenges and oppressive situations and somehow have been able to persevere all. I am in awe of the various paths that people carve for themselves and the flow of human resilience that continues reveal. In the climate of our current times, I personally find a lot of that struggle to be particularly heartbreaking and quite disturbing as over time, we are supposed to become smarter and enlightened. If we are to evolve and transform, it is imperative that we keep going.

By exploring direction and expansion of my own life and attempting to extend my artistic passions from canvas into a fourth dimensions via yoga, I've become more aware of my own efforts, my own  accomplishments and my evolution as enhanced by my personal experiences and perspective as a human. In theory, I am energized and excited by this concept. When one is faced with challenges, one finds a way to work with or through it and comes out somehow further along and more improved in the end, right? That sounds great. However in practice, the reality is that no one really wants to struggle with anything — I certainly don't. It's not much fun, sexy or cute. And, to be honest, I'm a bit of a control freak, so things that are unclear, messy and not tied up in a good looking bow, generally grate on my nerves. I like things in their place and processes set up and followed to create the most efficient and relatively predictable scenarios. When wrenches are then thrown into those systems requiring unexpected delays or problems, I am annoyed at best. Life is full of these occurrences. And, at a certain age, one would think that I would know better than to be so surprised, and so put out when glitches occur. I'm human and constantly forget that I am NOT in control and cannot realistically be prepared for EVERY possible wrench or welcomed surprise even, for that matter. Then there's that voice, both similar and quite different from that creepy one that  tells you to bail and "Get out of the house!" That voice says, "Let the natural process flow - AND STOP GETTING IN THE WAY F YOUR OWN PROGRESS!" Authentic growth is a process that takes its own time and will create its own path. Despite my impatient tendencies,  I realize that I must learn to trust, honor and deeply respect this ideal for my own benefit. My insecurities, my fears and my avoidance often block, delay or complicate matters in my own development affecting my momentum. Then I stand arrested. Stagnant. 

Any major life change can set off a series of other scary events which can be overwhelming and cause that sense of having the rug or literal ground pulled right out from under you, your life and everything you know and hold dear. Yoga, which actually means union, begins to heal all of that. It's about balance - sthira / sukah (stability / flexibility). And this is not about control, but about finding stability in the understanding that nothing is permanent. There is a constant flow moving through all things and it's important for us to remain flexible enough to bend and maneuver around, as well as through the challenges of life. We are both the water and the rock, simultaneously carving, creating and becoming the space for the movement, the juice and the life force that is happening. This is a constant. As we move through the many experiences that are placed in front of us, we change. We transform in order to cope, then we come out on the other end quite different from all that has happened. From there, we move on with new tools and perspective to begin again and evolve further still. This has become a more poignant theme for me as of late. As a result, what I've discovered is that we are resilient. We are capable of way more than we can ever imagine and, there are many ways to accomplish similar ends. 

For me, teaching more yoga, (including those classes that are specifically designed for cancer survivors ), has been incredibly humbling, satisfying and a major lesson in true humility and gratitude. While connecting more deeply to my own experience and challenges from both before and since, I have become more resolute in my belief and understanding of how once we do get out of our own way, yoga works to reunites us to the task — and whatever that task at hand happens to be. Yoga softens that feeling in us of wanting to bail and give up. We learn to work with what we have and it guides us towards a focus on what IS, in the moment. Both weak and strong combined together, begins to knit some of the frayed and damaged edges back together again! It is a healing practice that does affect the body, but is equally effective on the mind and the spirit of a person who has been through much. It is a beautifully dynamic practice that is useful, biologically effective and scientific. And it can be simple. When my doctors told me that due to the nature of my surgery, reconstruction and recovery restrictions, that my yoga practice would be non-existent for a year, I could have believed them. I started to, then thought better of that. They were VERY wrong but before that had been realized, the idea of not being able to practice what I considered to be a defining part of who I am, made me sad and quite lost as to how I was going to continue to function as myself. But as a result of my accepting what was happening to me, I took caution and began to practice a little bit differently, starting over and building again from the ground up. Revisiting and re-evaluating the basics created a stronger foundation for me, my psyche, my body, my practice, my teaching, my business and my understanding of myself as well as my life in general...WHAT? —Yes. Who knew? Learning the same things over and over again in different ways, is an excavation towards knowledge on new levels,  with a deeper or wider understanding each time.

Instinctively and thematically, I began teaching all of my classes, whether for cancer survivors or not, from my enhanced knowledge of the importance of being grounded and operating from a place that is sound, with the intention of encouraging students to literally feel the stillness and support of the earth underneath them. The exploration of one's connection to the stability of the actual ground, earth and all the fertile connotations that goes with that is an exercise towards feeling the steadiness of something that we can hold on to when feeling less than steady in ourselves. I hope for the discovery of what is strong, working and viable within each of us — because it is in there, no matter what.  For students, my teaching is intended to be part exercise, part self therapy for them, part support group and simply part haven, community — a safe space for students to heal from and prepare for the handling of those blows that life can deliver. Yoga practice is where we can breathe, build strength, laugh and move together with support as one. From there, we are able to work on drawing that sense of stability and support into our bodies, minds and hopefully at some point into our hearts. Growth must originate in a base, beginning or ground from which to move. When we can connect to what is solid, the experiences can have the space that they need to be fluid, to flow and to carve us into who we are meant to be. There is a process that must happen and allowing the time and space for that to occur is just part of the deal. Don't give up. As tough as it can be, we must not only create the space but then trust the process. There is real and valuable work in just that. 

 

Teri Gandy-Richardson