A hurricane rocked my world, but yoga saved my house.
The hurricane which blew in did a lot of damage after I opened the door to self-doubt. It took two debilitating surgeries, injuries from two separate accidents and years of pain before being diagnosed with Celiac disease to figure out how to stand up for myself and stop being an emotional doormat. The older I had gotten the harder on myself I had become and the more I had let fear dictate how I responded to what knocked at my door. I had invited the destructive patterns in and surrendered my Shakti. I had surrendered my power. When I finally realized that only I was the rightful owner of my dwelling, I went on a journey to clean house of its unwelcome inhabitants. Finding my voice took some work and yoga was the right tool.
The first guest I welcomed into my abode was Ashtanga yoga. I was introduced to it by a friend and did not expect this encounter to completely change my life. Over the course of the next seven years, while I dealt with serious health issues, I would learn to fall in love with Hatha yoga, move on to study Iyengar and practice Kundalini yoga, then discover Raja yoga and get initiated into Kriya yoga. Each would bring me life saving tips on how to heal body and mind and reconnect with my divine self. Yoga helped me rebuild my internal support system so I could take control of my emotional health, stand up and find my creative voice. I went to yoga class with the intention of healing my broken body and discovered that I was stronger than I thought but the kind of healing that would take place was not what I had expected.
Like the foundation of a house, you rarely visit the basement unless there is a major problem. You just expect it to hold everything up and if it is cracked or poor cement was used, it will decay and start to shift the angle of the home. Often times after years of going unnoticed, the house goes askew, your perceptions distorted by years of accumulated habits or sanskaras. Blinded by them you do not see the fault in the basement. When you’ve lived in it for so long you may not have realized the house is crooked because the changes happened progressively over years of self doubt, self abuse or misguided feelings. Eventually the cracks let water in, then the cement softens and starts to fail and before you know it one side of the house has sunk into the earth and you have no clue how to save it from demolition or from sinking into the dark hole of depression.
Unless you step out of the house and really observe it from afar with precise instruments – that is when it’s a good time to call in the master mason Aka yoga teacher – you may never realize that it is your most essential human right to be living in a solid house. Once you have observed it from a new position you have a new perspective on everything you see and realize the failed groundwork is the reason why you could never let go of the handle or always feared going down certain steps, or why the alarm went off every time you let someone in. Fear coloring every aspect of your life.
Well, after years of looking out the window and wishing I had a house like my neighbors it was time to renovate. My first reaction to any change was always a categorical no. I knew I needed to change but I resisted. I resisted because of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what I might find so I settled for the lopsided house that I knew. When events outside of my control brought my house down I turned to yoga for physical and emotional healing. At first I didn’t even realize I was doing any interior work. I went to yoga class to strengthen my body after my first car accident and ensuing back problems. Before long I realized that we had been tearing down the walls of my subconscious and redecorating my inner space with happier more wholesome colors. I didn’t have a well laid out plan but I felt supported by the teachers and decided to start designing my own abode.
As I got deeper into yoga philosophy and discovered meditation I was able to peruse my deeper self like never before. I did a lot of digging to get to the core of my belief system. That’s when I found a prowler in my basement and came face to face with my ego. It was suffocating me with fear and threatened physical and emotional harm. “I want freedom!” I said, but the ego had its hand on my heart and had closed off all circulation to the world of possibilities. On the outside I looked in control but somewhere along the way I had let my ego come in and become the master of the house. I knew it would be a painful journey of self analysis to tear myself away from its grip but I was so tired of the pain and so desperately wanted healing that I took a stern step towards faith and prayed the masters would support me. The challenge would be to continue tearing down the bad foundation without the house crumbling down which almost happened at one point in the dark months of depression. I had cut off the power from the only thing I knew and without a new source I was soon left without energy. I was an emotional mess and it took me a while to understand how to read my emotions and not be governed by them. They were not the enemy but a mason’s level to help point towards stability which lay deep inside. Sitting in the dark room of my consciousness I discovered my revolving and ever evolving chakras; beautiful energy centers and a source of free illumination for my whole being. If I could activate this power source then maybe I could continue my transformation.
Through it all my daily yoga practice supported me and with each encouraging achievement like my first headstand or my first sadhana, I would gain momentum and come out ready to carry on my svadhyaya makeover (self study). As I started to replace the many planks of self-depreciating inner chatter, the house reverberated with a cleaner echo and my outlook sounded brighter.
Working with the chakra generators I was able to dig to the bottom of the basement where I found a beautiful chest buried underneath all the dirt. It had been locked away for years and had a vague sense of familiarity. Somehow I knew the combination and as I unlocked it I was immersed in the most beautiful blinding light of compassion. It had waited here patiently right in the heart of my soul. It was the source of inextinguishable pure love and represented all the hopes the universe had for me. It was the spark that would guide me towards self-fulfillment, abundance and happiness. I flashed back to a time when I had been a part of that light. This pure Love was my birthright, I had simply forgotten it. The destructive storms I had encountered in life had not been meant for my suffering but necessary for me to tear down the walls and rediscover my deepest core, remember my higher purpose and truly express myself as a being of light.
I had an open mind but this revelation opened my heart and I used forgiveness as a tool to act on it and start the rebuilding process. I had no idea where the path would lead me but the path of a yogi starts in the heart. I needed a solid foundation on which I could stop being afraid of standing tall. This new foundation would be more subtle with flexible material and a pliable mind. Storms would not bring my house down and I would withstand the rigors of life.
As I rebuilt my inner walls, a lot of cloudy activity surrounded my dwelling. Shedding bad behaviors towards myself and others sometimes meant major life change, like shedding a damaging friendship and an unfulfilling job; choices not easy to make but painful and necessary. I needed the hardship of breaking up with some of the fixtures in my life that were hindering my growth. From the pile of dust I began to reconstruct myself the way I had viewed myself as a child: invincible, happy and with unlimited power.
I had dreamed of becoming an artist with unlimited freedom and believed I could accomplish anything I wanted traveling the world, making friends everywhere I went. I could touch people’s lives and be happy. I could build my house any way I wanted to. I was now my own architect. No more predefined quarters, no more prefabricated beliefs, I would recalibrate my being so it would fit me perfectly. My house would be custom fit and different than the rest of the world; because I was special in my own way. It was okay to be different, it was welcomed and it was celebrated. Nail by nail and plank by plank, my freedom took form; leaving the bad relationship, getting a new job, writing a book, creating art outside of my boundaries, following my heart and taking steps in becoming a yoga teacher, Reiki master and a better meditator.
After some time I took a step back and looked at what I had accomplished; I had built my own castle.
My self-expression is as happy and strong as my emotional ground is stable and secure. I am surprised to see what an amazing architect I have become! My creative ideas have been waiting to come out of the closet all along. To walk on a level floor after all these years means that I can reach inner balance. As yoga taught me to align myself and straighten my spine, I have straightened the beams of my heart and aligned my life with my true calling. In my world this is the definition of success.
From then on, a great peace permeated everything I touched and faith guided me as I learned that it was safe to follow my intuition. My whole being now beamed solidly on Mother Earth and was now ready to open its doors and welcome new guests: trust and faith who walked in and pushed me to begin a new addition to my castle with the hopes of filling it with service to others. Love could be expressed in many different ways and I could manifest a better life, and I did deserve every good thing. I could not have seen it until I shone the bright light of yoga and meditation into my deepest core.
As I laid my artist’s palette at my feet, I watched with happy tears of joy the pretty vibrant colors I had picked for my castle and I patted myself on the back. Well done I told myself, well done.
“When you understand who and what you are, your radiance projects into the Universal radiance and everything around you becomes creative and full of opportunity.” ♥ -Yogi Bhajan
© Carole Fontaine (Nam Karan Kaur) 2012