Starting over meant leaving behind the illusion of a full recovery. A certain numbness enveloped me, as if facing the truth had blunted my spirit. Intellectually, I knew that the breakdown I’d had at the studio was a necessary and healthy step. But my heart and my body ached, now, in a way I’d never before experienced. If I had to describe what the world looked like to me in these moments, I would have drawn a picture of myself, trapped on the ledge of a cliff, overlooking a wasteland of vast, undefined emptiness.
I did not want to stay here.
I needed a way off this ledge, to climb out of the deep abyss in which I was stuck. Yoga was going to be the first tool I wielded to lead me to a different place. The need to slow down, to accept that I was no longer the person I used to be, pointed me to the yoga’s universal ethical principles. If I were to adopt an honest practice, I needed to embrace “ahimsa,” or the concept of non-harming as described in the following: ‘Do no harm’ is the medical credo by which physicians and heath care professionals are to abide. The concept of ‘non-harming’ sets a baseline standard for the way in which we should live. The idea of Ahimsa should extend to the self before it can be transmitted outward into the world. The actions we take in the way we practice yoga asana can reveal the way in which we are taking care of ourselves.” (http://breatheintomotion.com/search/results?q=ahimsa). In my rush to return to my life, I had not considered that I needed to care for my body, rather than overlook its needs, ignoring its pleas that I stop inflicting pain upon myself. In my note to Mike, I acknowledged I was guilty of harming myself in the pursuit of a narrow goal:
Tied to this concept of non-harming of myself was the next ethical principle: Satya, or speaking the truth: “A conscious decision to tell the truth nurtures harmony in thoughts, words and actions. Being honest with oneself is critical for truth to be projected outwards into the world. Learning to perform yoga postures with a realistic outlook on how a posture should be practiced (or if a pose should be attempted at all) is a lesson in truthfulness…Yoga practice that embraces scaling back range of motion and assembling appropriate alignment respects ‘non-harming’ or Ahimsa (the first ethical principle) and weaves it into ‘truthfulness’ or Satya (the second ethical principle). ‘Truthfulness’ connects with ‘non-harming’ in yoga practice and yoga philosophy.” (http://breatheintomotion.com/search/results?q=Satya)
With these two universal principles in mind – non-harming oneself or others, and speaking truthfully – I committed myself to practicing yoga in a manner that would help me off this ledge and into a new life:
Ahimsa and Satya became the guiding principles for my yoga practice. In choosing to slow down, to listen to the guidance of the yogi who knew how to carefully glue my body back together – I knowingly unleashed a wave of transformation that would bring healing to me both inside and out.
But that would prove a perilous journey all its own.