I’m comfortable now with admitting I’m a control freak. Not too long ago, this was news to me. I’d always considered myself a “close enough is good enough” kind of gal—the house doesn’t have to be spotless, every “i” doesn’t have to be dotted and every “t” doesn’t have to be crossed. But, and this is a big but, I would like to control my life on a much grander scale. I would like absolute certainty that every choice I make is the right one and that everything will work out okay in the end. Would it be too much to ask for world peace? Or that the people I love don’t ever have to suffer?
When I started my training to become a yoga teacher, I hoped that by the end I would “get it”. Not only would I be able to share the amazing benefits of yoga with others, I would have taken my own profound journey.
I hoped I would have life figured out and that no matter what circumstance, I’d breeze through it with confidence and understanding. How naive I was—and what a reality check I’ve had! Life doesn’t change. Sure, I’ve learned a lot about myself and gained tools to help me react differently to life, but this isn’t a silver bullet—it’s an ongoing process—in fact, it’s a lifelong journey.
My desire for control hasn’t changed since I’ve become a yoga teacher and committed to ongoing svadhyaya (study). In fact, it’s only through intensive self-study that I came to recognise this trait in myself at all. Now I can recall countless examples of how this desire for certainty has limited my ability to be truly happy and embrace life.
How do I navigate the ongoing challenges that life is bound to throw at me? How do I accept my vulnerability and make decisions based on my own intuition without a fear of consequences and failure? For me, the answer is a commitment to regular yoga practice.
Asana helps me to focus, while meditation aids me in remembering that vrittis (fluctuations of the mind, such as thoughts) are not reality. This can be hugely powerful in grounding me in the present moment, helping me to gain perspective when faced with painful or disturbing thoughts.
Yoga helps me to tap into my intuition. I’ve always been one to analyse and interpret, to list the pros and cons before making a decision, always fearful of a wrong move and later regret. Now, when I feel my mind taking me down this path, I pause and listen to my inner guru.
It wasn’t until I was in the midst of yoga teacher training that I took a risk and followed my gut instead of my head. After years of being unhappy working in the corporate world, it suddenly struck me that I had choices. And on an instinct, I made a choice that has changed my life. I gave up my day job and focused on my teacher training and nurturing myself (something I’d neglected for far too long). Was there a guarantee this would work out? No. Did it matter? No. Suddenly, the pay packet that had seemed so important to my very survival and success in this world didn’t matter anymore. My happiness and freedom took centrestage.
So, is life perfect now that I’m living the dream? Of course not: life still presents its challenges. I still have self-doubt and concern for my future. I still want to control and that may never go away. My regular asana and meditation practice fuels my commitment to living in the moment and trusting that the universe will provide what I need, including growth opportunities cunningly disguised as challenges, frustration and inconvenience!
When faced with the suffering of those that I love, my heart still aches and my mind takes me down a familiar road with thoughts that resist reality. However, now I am able to witness this process, so instead of resisting reality I am able to embrace life—the “good”, the “bad” and everything in between. Every moment may not live up to my fantasy of a perfect world, but now I am equipped to see every moment as perfect, to be content here and now. Yoga has offered me a window into my psyche, laying every neurotic and damaging thought on the table for my inspection. What a powerful gift.
Erica Webb is a Melbourne-based yoga teacher. For more info, visit www.movebreathebeyoga.com.au.
Related: Stop Worrying