Trusting the Circuitous Path: Navigating the Journey with Japa December 6, 2016 14:01
I was late to school this morning—over 45 minutes late. Normally, this would really bother me. I hate being late, the inconvenience of waiting and making others wait. However, today was different. On this cold, rainy December morning, the universe was placing necessary detours in my path in order to give me more time to slow down and think. A fender bender, flashing police lights, and a long line of traffic forced me to turn right instead of left. An endless stream of yellow lights and a delay on my usual interstate exit ramp convinced me to go way out of my way and explore the side streets instead. I took a break from my usual routine, letting go of time, letting go of the usual obligations, and, along the way, reflected on what I’ve learned during this past year.
*Trust Yourself: Follow Your Own Compass
Feeling lost has always been unsettling for me. I have friends who deliberately try to lose themselves in a forest or new city—they enjoy the adventure of finding their way out of the tangle of uncertainty. For me, that uncertainty creates mind-numbing anxiety and fear. I like to know where I’m going, and I’m really bad with directions, so finding my way is often a challenge and a real struggle.
This year I’ve had several opportunities to venture off the usual path, literally, and metaphorically—to explore new places—to interact with new people—to trust my own instincts and rely on my internal guidance more than external markers and guideposts. The more I can breathe, relax, and allow, the easier this process becomes, and the more I can enjoy the adventures.
*Establish Necessary Boundaries
Because I like to know where I’m going, I crave parameters. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to honor other people’s guidelines before following my own. This year, however, I have practiced making my own boundaries a priority, paying much closer attention to what’s happening in my own mind and heart. For seven months, I taught yoga at a studio that was an hour’s commute from my home. While I enjoyed teaching the class, and I enjoyed working with my students, the business owner wasn’t paying me regularly. After a couple of bounced paychecks and one too many half-hearted pleas for understanding and patience had worn thin, I walked away. I felt bad for leaving my students, but this obligation was becoming more of a burden than a joy. My regret, however, was short-lived. I currently enjoy having more time to spend with my family, and more time to devote to my own personal yoga practice at home.
*Relax, There’s Plenty of Time
Time dissolves when I do what I enjoy. For more than a year, I have dedicated time each day to a japa practice. I have worked with a single mantra (the long version of the Gayatri) and a specific mala for this practice, and I have noticed significant, positive changes as a result of this practice. I’m more patient with myself and others; I’m more flexible and willing to adapt when unexpected surprises occur; I’m more relaxed and comfortable with myself and others, and, most importantly, I’m able to recognize that time is an imposed construct--and that no one’s life truly revolves around it.
I was 45 minutes late to work this morning, and I didn’t really care. I listened to music on the way, I enjoyed the drive and the time to reflect, I arrived safely, and I was able to assist my students in a meaningful way during the course of the day.
Despite all of the setbacks and disappointments of 2016, this has been a good year. I’ve learned and grown a great deal, and I look forward to what 2017 has to offer. My japa practice has helped me navigate and manage the many ups and downs, and it’s been the steady needle of my life’s compass, helping to guide me along this amazing, circuitous path.