All my life I have been searching—earnestly, and often with angst— wondering when I would find “it.” What “it” is, I’m not sure I’ll ever know, but one might call “it” a sense of inner peace, a sense of completion, a sense of wholeness, of all-knowing, all-accepting awareness: Samadhi, in the yogic tradition: a state of complete integration, wholeness, and truth. Signing up for the Pavones Yoga Teacher Training, I thought I would find “it.” I entered the training with a desire to disconnect from everything in my past—everything that I did not not value in myself and in my history– and to make myself anew. I wanted the sense of quiet, peaceful contentment that seems to radiate the yogis, monks, and gurus I have come across. I thought that somehow, through fierce determination, I could become a new, better, brighter person.
I did not become a new person. Not in the slightest. If anything, I’ve ended this last month with an even stronger sense of “Kelly-ness” than ever before. A louder laugh, crazier dance moves, and more of the high energy self that does not resemble in the slightest the monks I thought I needed to be like to live happily.
So what happened? Why did a month of 4 hours of yoga and 4 hours of meditation and sutra study per day not ‘perfect’ me in the ways I hoped? Reading Siddartha, preparing for my culminating ‘practice teach’, I found a quote which conveys what I think was the most powerful aspect of the PYC training philosophy:
“When someone is searching,” said Siddhartha, “then it might easily happen that the only thing his eyes still see is that what he searches for, that he is unable to find anything, to let anything enter his mind, because he always thinks of nothing but the object of his search, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed by the goal. Searching means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal. You, oh venerable one, are perhaps indeed a searcher, because, striving for your goal, there are many things you don’t see, which are directly in front of your eyes.” (Herman Hesse)
In our practice, on and off the mat, we are often given dogmatic teachings: “Lift your leg higher”, “Thou shalt not…”, or “Think of x,y,z and you will feel contentment!” We are taught that it is through our forceful determination that we will get where we want to go; it’s a fundamental value in American ideology and the ethos of the American dream. We hear it often: “no pain, no gain” or “With enough hard work, anything is possible.” I thought I would find what I was looking for only through restriction, through sacrifice, through duress, and suppression of myself, who always seemed to be getting in the way.
And yet, as I sat down for Indira’s first yoga class, she began with “Move your body in any way that feels delicious.” And every class after, she, Chris, and Katie would “Invite us to move in ways that feel natural, that feel yummy, on our own time.” There was an exceptional amount of freedom found in the yoga of PYC. Instead of being directed, we were asked to tap into our own sense of knowledge, deep in our beings. Instead of being forced to fit a mold of what “yogi” looks like, we were given the freedom to find and be our own yogi! And as hard as I may fight it, my inner yogi laughs loudly! And dances with abandon! And despite, or perhaps in spite of this, she has moments of tapping into deep feelings of peace and contentment. As my fellow PYC grad Jen Harter often shares, “You are the one you’ve been waiting for”—for me, I just needed to stop searching so hard to find her.