Yoga is forever and you don’t have to think about it. You can show up and practice and your body knows. Your breath, your body and your deeper knowing conspire for the thinking you, they won’t let you turn away. Yoga will always be there for you. You can make mistakes and change your job and read books that are fiction and it will still be there. Forever.
Recently, I’ve been filled with doubt. Throughout my life, I’ve been filled with doubt. But recently I’ve been filled with doubt about my abilities to be a yoga teacher.
I guess it’s not so much my abilities to be a yoga teacher as much as my ability to have a thorough knowledge of yoga that I can effectively share with people both on and off the mat.
For the past few weeks, I have driven around pretending all the bad drivers around me are Bernie Sanders. I don’t think Bernie Sanders is a bad driver but more often than not when I look at the car diving 10 mph under the speed limit, cutting me off, or making a right from the left lane the dominant features of the person are: white male, white hair.
First off, I don’t want to scare you (hi, mom). I am after all a yoga teacher and yoga teachers are “suppose” to talk about light and love and compassion, not any of that dark, complicated stuff. In general, people don’t want to talk about death or suicide. If that stuff isn’t for you, it’s best you stop reading now.
There will come a time, if you are a practitioner of yoga or a seeker of spiritual wisdom, when a teacher will tell you to let go of whatever it is you are attached to. At first, this will seem reasonable enough and maybe you’ve heard it before so you do the best you can to “relinquish your attachment” to whatever benign thing you can think of to let go of, i.e. your attachment to bagels with cream cheese or checking your email first thing in the morning. But while you might think you are letting go of attachment, we often just let go of that thing or we beat ourselves up about how attached to it we are. The idea of attachment shows itself in so many aspects of our lives and we're told to let go of it before we even know what we should be letting go of.
Doubt, in particular self doubt, is part of the human experience. Even the yoga sutras list doubt as a barrier to the practice or full realization. So maybe it is that simple, that in order to erase suffering from our life we must also move past doubt. But another part of this whole “path” is acceptance. And doubt is a part of who we are until the very end. And who is to say there is no room for doubt in our modern world? If you have faith without questioning, without inquiry, without some amount of doubt, then we would all walk around following religion and politics and everything else mindlessly, without any sense of real truth or intellect.
Heading home after a week on the road didn’t feel so much like going home as it did simply the promise of a hot shower and a full meal. After an adventurous week exploring California, Utah and Arizona, our final night in Tuolomne Meadows was quiet. Maybe everyone was tired or cold or upset about the terrible rice we forced ourselves to eat for dinner, but I think the heaviness of the drive home the next day was starting to set in. The excitement that we all built up in our heads leading up to the trip was over and even the trip itself was drawing to an end. As we sat watching our wet fire wood try to burn, we were all hit with the reality that by this exact time the next night, we would be weaved back into the nets of our everyday lives. In our tiny apartments, planning out our weeks and thinking about the stress of another month paying rent. None of us were stoked.