I am in the midst of truly learning and understanding a valuable lesson: make space for things to come into your life.
I have heard this before and have acknowledged it as true and important, but until these past few weeks, I never took the time, nor felt the need, I suppose, to internalize it. And, as it happens in life, when we arrive at the time and place that we are to learn something, that lesson and teaching pops up time and again, showing itself, reinforcing itself.
Pretty much from the moment we arrived in Missoula, the majority of my energy and attention was focused on how, when, and where I was going to teach yoga. Along with whom I was going to contact, and what were the schedules at the studios, and every other detail and consideration I could come up with. And after sending emails or contacting someone, I would constantly check and wait with baited breath for a response. It was pretty much all-consuming, yet not much seemed to be happening, except a growing anxiety.
There was a part of me that felt like I had to prove something, to myself, to my loved ones, to anyone and everyone, and whatever that something was wasn’t coming to fruition. There was also part of me that was ignoring the fact that I was, and still am, new here. I had left one community and arrived in a new one. And no matter what my great vision was of falling easily and seamlessly into this community, the reality is that it takes time.
I am not saying to not have a focus, a vision, or a goal. On the contrary. I have spent the greater part of the past year learning how to manage my time and take daily steps toward a focus—focusing fully on that one step—and achieving a vision and set goals.
But the valuable lesson that I am in the midst of is revealing that it’s all about balance. That as important as it is to take steps toward achieving our goals and dreams, it is just as important to make space.
I was on a call with Sadie Nardini, a yoga teacher, a few weeks ago, and it was then and from her that I really heard and began to integrate this teaching. And I want to share the value I found in it.
She taught that the minute you feel anxious and nothing seems to be working out, that instead of pushing, to stop. To stop pushing for whatever external outcome you’re trying to achieve and get back to your own work in your own space. That when we’re doing our best own work, living as our “high-level” selves, without holding tight to an external outcome, we open ourselves up and make space for opportunities to arrive. And that if we feel ourselves pushing toward something, there is the chance that we can block ourselves off and miss opportunities that are presenting themselves—which might even be something better that what we had envisioned in the first place.
The idea is not to stop working, to sit around and wait. In fact, it is to keep working. And to find the balance between the energy we expend externally to willfully bring our work out into the world, and the energy we put into our work because we love it. Doing our best work, on our own time, without being constantly caught up in the thought of what we will receive in return. Complimenting this work with other things that feed our souls so that we can be inspired and live as our “high-level” selves.
I’ve been trying to bring this balance more and more into my life. Reaching out to people and doing the extroverted work. Showing up in the community and taking yoga and dance classes for the sheer pleasure of it, while meeting people. And, also, practicing and doing my best work, without expectation, in my own space.
This teaching is very much in line with an understanding of the concept of aparigraha from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Aparigraha is translated as “non-possessiveness,” “non-greediness,” or “non-grasping.” In this teaching, we can understand aparigraha as not grasping, and instead softening and maintaining space for energy and opportunities to flow.
Since the call, I’ve been reminded of this lesson of pausing and stopping, and not gripping or pushing so intensely several times. Once in reading the words of Patthabi Jois, “Practice, and all is coming.” Things have begun to open up. Opportunities are presenting themselves. And I work to maintain this balance. Arriving with an openness and spaciousness.
“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” –Joseph Campbell