Welcome to the Edge

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What is the edge?  The edge is a precipice between one place and another.  The boundary between what is and what could be.  The experience of the edge is often characterized by intensity and extremes. The edge is a place of unknowns and risk, and a place where there is very little clear direction about the next step. It is the space of transition which often leads us to be both excited and afraid. Hopeful for the movement to the next place, and simultaneously terrified about leaving the comfort of the familiar. It seems that we find ourselves on the edge often in our lives.  It can emerge during big shifts like the edge of a career or the edge of relationship, but it can also happen with something as seemingly insignificant as the edge of a choice.

It is an intense place to occupy, and often we express that we feel frozen, stuck, unclear, and without direction.  So, to stay “safe”, we prolong the process, and hold fast to the familiar and comfortable.  We begin to develop a fear and mistrust about the space between, when in truth it is the space of pure potential. This space just outside of the familiar is where we learn to TRUST, to understand that it is all about us, but it is so much bigger than us.  The less we cling, the more we can feel supported to make the choices that will lead us to greatest ease on our path. Once we step out into the unknown, the next phase of our lives opens to us. But that first step, for most of us, is the hardest one.

The choice to leave the familiar for what is right or good for our life takes a warrior’s heart.  When we take that initial step into the unknown and in doing so, we open a path straight to our center.  For so many of us, this is scary.  We’ve invested so much time and energy into becoming  that we have forgotten our own true being, the unchanging, purposeful, power within.  

It is here at the edge of a quiet moment, or a dramatic life change, where we have a choice. We choose to step out into the unknown away from comfort because we sense it will bring us closer to who we really are. Taking this step will bring us closer to who we are becoming.

Friends and family may think we are crazy.  Our colleagues might question our sanity.  But when we make the choice to honor the call home to ourselves, we become courageous warriors and we feel aligned.  The doubt and fears that we once had don’t disappear, but they begin to ttake a backseat to the hope, excitement, and knowing that surface when you step over the edge. We may do unexpected things like quit our jobs or leave a relationship.  We might become unpredictable and spontaneous and go back to school or become a yoga teacher.  We might allow our true selves to show up in ways that we never allowed before by falling in love or planting seeds in the ground. Regardless of the way your choice will manifest, the edge that we surf is terrifying and exhilarating, and entirely worth it.
 

If you find yourself at this edge, welcome. You are not alone, you are among good strong faithly company. Together we are stepping over the edge and supporting one another as we wake up, feel more authentically, dive into practice, and make choices that will change our lives and in doing so change our world.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Establish yourself in TRUST.  Trust in the process, trust in yourself, your inner voice, your preparation.  Remember YOU are the point.

  2. Be cautious about leaning too much into faith.  Faith requires us to cultivate belief whereas TRUST requires no believing, it is belief itself.  When we TRUST, outside evidence becomes an added bonus instead of the needed proof.

  3. When you are in the intensity of the edge, the only practice is to keep going.  Focus all your energy in what you know is true. Keep going, even if you are tip-toeing.  Keep showing up to whatever is offered.

  4. Be in relationship with your inner voice.  Do a practice every day that tunes you into YOU.  Your inner guidance, your truth. Don’t worry about what anyone else says, inhabiting the edge is ALL about YOU.

  5. Don’t wait for Perfection. The desire for things to be perfect in order to make choices is a way we orient ourselves to what’s right/wrong, good/bad.   So when we have no orientation, the absolute definition of the edge,  we feel that it’s imperfect and something is wrong. Act from your gut instead of from proof.

  6. Be fully engaged in the process.  It’s the process itself that is the point, so don’t disregard it in an effort to escape discomfort.

  7. Choose growth.  When things are most challenging or confusing, see these experiences as an opportunity to refine and grow.  Riding the edge is an opportunity to become more mature in our efforts.  Apply your intelligence to your experience.  Slow down, invite presence, feel your emotions, and watch how you evolve.

  8. Be gentle with yourself.  The edge is scary.  It’s a difficult place to be.  It’s exciting and full of potential, but often without clear and predictable outcome.  If you find yourself seeking old comforts, or feeling discouraged, it’s ok.  Be accepting of your humanness and recalibrate your efforts.

  9. And lastly, take care of yourself. The edge is hard and you will likely be questioned rather than supported. Show up for yourself like you wish others would show up for you in these times.

If you are ready to step over the edge and are seeking a support consider joining us for one of our many 200/300/500 Hr Yoga Teacher Trainings.

Shifting Your Perspective

Photo by Juan Diego Reyes

Photo by Juan Diego Reyes

Years ago I picked up a book on impulse at a bookstore.  Something about managing your time to grow your business.  I was in the fledgling stages of creating Vira Bhava Yoga, and was feeling mostly discouraged, frustrated by my slow movement toward my desires, and yet propelled by a deep knowing that this was exactly what I needed to be doing. So, I did what I always do when I feel stuck, I bought a book about it.  My background is not in business, but I am the definition of an entrepreneur (unemployable).  So I decided to educate myself about ways I could turn my dream into reality.  

The best advice I received from this book of essays specifically targeted to tech start up businesses (wtf) was this:  at the end of the day reflect on your successes.  Instead of going down your to-do list and focusing on what you didn’t get done, which most of us do.  Instead of dwelling on the typical obstacles of “not enough” time, capital, energy, support; you fill in the blank, turn your focus to your accomplishments.  If you are working to manifest your purpose in the world, it’s an admirable feat, and it takes time. Committing a little bit of everyday toward that intention goes a long way.  Yet our tendency to focus on our failures instead of our successes veils the recognition of our own brilliance.

It’s not so different than watching my kids grow.  They are constantly changing, shifting, expanding, in body, mind and heart, but the day-to-day demands often keep me from noticing.  Until something huge happens (like my oldest is taller than me all of a sudden) or someone else points out the shifts, they often stay just outside of my awareness.  Not completely unknown, but not really acknowledged or celebrated.  Then in a moment, I realize how time has passed us by, and my little babes are full fledged people.  

So many of us get caught in the spin of overlooking how much impact we are making. Until one day, we wake up, haggared and hardened, and our dreams have come true, but we’ve missed it! We’ve lost ourselves in the never ending race to 'get things done’ and forgotten to reflect on the ways we are creating the life we desire RIGHT NOW!  

So, I started making a new list.  Every night before I would fall asleep I would write the list of things I had accomplished that day.  From “did the dishes” to “opened a business bank account,” from “wrote new content” to “taught two yoga classes,” I started to honor myself for my hard work and commitment. This simple thing shifting the most important aspect of my journey, my perspective.  I started believing in myself and what I was capable of.  I celebrated my successes instead of overlooking in an effort to move on to the next thing.  And, slowly but surely, the evidence of my hard work started to show itself.

There is a teaching in Tantra that states if you want to worship the Goddess, you must become her.  More than anything I wanted to be in the easeful flow of living my dharma, I wanted to receive the abundance that I felt certain was the outcome of working with such unwavering determination to manifest that truth that whispered inside me every day, but it didn’t feel like it was coming.  I spent most of my time lamenting the discrepancy between how much I wanted it, and how little it seemed to be manifesting. The yearning that was the evidence that I was on the right path would become the pain of defeat.  They key is to see the yearning as the force propelling you in the right direction, and not get stuck in the pain of not receiving. For most of us, when we are in that pain, we throw up our hands and change directions instead of seeing the yearning as something to turn towards, not away from. The yearning is the call, and when we attach only to the outcome of success and not to the reality of our own efforts, that’s when we get stuck.  When we feel stuck, we think about whether or not we are doing the right thing, when we could be reflecting on our challenges as the lessons we need to be learning to grow in balance.  The barrier to our success is simply the gap between the yearning and the achieving. One which can easily be remedied by self reflection and trust in our purpose. When we change where we place our focus, we are freed from defeat, and reenergized toward what we are so ready to do.

So when I was stuck, I decided to change my perspective.  I turned to the sweet and absolute abundance of Shakti in the form of Lakshmi, and I began the process of recognizing the parts of my life that were already abundant.  I gave thanks for my family, my friends, my practice.  I honored my growth as a teacher, I cultivated enthusiasm about educating myself in new systems. And it all worked. Here we are. Vira Bhava Yoga has grown and continues to grow.  We share and celebrate the path of Tantric Hatha Yoga in 7 different states, with more planned for the coming years. We have outstanding teachers, mentors, change-makers, and students all over the world.  

I still move in and out of remembering, just as the teachings say we will.  But when I can see the ways that Lakshmi shows up everyday in my life, not just in material wealth, but in love, connection, spiritual growth, joy, generosity, receptivity, openness, and ease, then I feel that energy enhanced.  The abundance that Lakshmi brings only grows when we acknowledge it, and from that place, open ourselves to receive more than we thought possible.  Because that’s the way it works, surrender isn’t giving up, it’s leaning into the whole truth, not just the one to which we have become accustom.

Recommended Readings:

The Soul Money, By Lynne Twist

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind: Edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

Following my Dharma Feels Like Giving Birth

Guest Post by VBY Grad Sarah Austin:

As a mother of three I have some familiarity with this process. I have spent all of this time creating a support system, feeling overwhelmed with excitement and fear all the while having a profound sense of connection with the divine universe. The kind of excitement that gives you goose bumps all over and makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.  That is what it feels like to be involved in the creation of something that has so much potential that is guiding you closer and closer to living your Dharma.  All the while knowing that after all of the pain, time, new awareness, feelings of defeat and lifestyle shifts you get the most beautiful gift.

 

I have spent many hours, days, and months looking for my peeps.  Working to surround  myself with the people that challenge me to be my higher self.  That when I start to wonder call me back.  Let’s just say it... they call me out on my shit!  These are the people that help outwardly orient me towards my Dharma.  They are the ones that when you celebrate your victories are more excited than yourself and give lots of love when the going is rough. These people for me are my sangha, family, at Vira Bhava Yoga.

 

When your Dharma and your people lineup anything can happen.  Having a strong foundation on my mat has helped to provide clarity in the process of creating this 200 HR training. There is a feeling of center that is grounded deep in the roots of my core, the place where my Dharma is seeded.  There is a reassuring feeling of purpose that comes with every move that we make.  Where will the training happen?  Who will come? Will anyone come?  There is an overriding sense of knowing that has a way to calm the nerves. When the spin cycle accidentally gets turned on and my thoughts are spinning out of control and the washing machine is starting to move across the floor because all the clothes moved to one side;  I remember that sometimes  you just have to “ho'oponopono” that shit!  Meaning I love you, I am sorry and please forgive me.  

 

Remembering that being vulnerable and surrendering to the process is hard. It requires that I call forth the bhav, the essence, of the vira, warrior spirit. It feels so uncomfortable the feeling of having to be vulnerable to ask for help. Not just asking for help with tasks to move the training forward but also in all aspects of life.  Then having the grace to receive that help is even harder.  There is a worldview that we must be perceived to have it all together and under control all the time. When in reality the struggle to try and maintain this image can be soul crushing.  So how can we pause in the moment, recognize that we need help and then empower ourselves enough to ask?  This process is teaching me how to live this in my life.

 

As I continue on the path towards my Dharma there is an endless unveiling of layers being peeled back.  Some of these layers come with a fast rip.  It could be having to have a conversation that is uncomfortable or it could be resistance to get on my mat.  Some of them have been quite soft and fluffy.  Lingering in a luscious practice or feeling empowered for standing up for what is true to my authentic self.  The layers to the self are abundantly simple and complex. There are some days when all I can connect with is the Annamaya Kosha, the physical body, the most tangible layer to connect with.  Knowing that there is a very interesting conversation happening between all of layers, Koshas, sheaths of the body.  Each informing and shifting continuously.  Allowing me to rise to, to challenge my level of studentship, ownership of knowledge.

 

Digesting each morsel of experience in all the layers of my being making myself, preparing my self, to be present in the process of manifesting this training.  Knowing that this training is a sankulpa (tangible, powerful TRUTH in action) oriented towards my Dharma. The most beautiful gift of all.

 

Sarah Austin, RYT- 500, grew up in Asheville, North Carolina She has ventured far and wide on her quest for spiritual growth and returned to the magical mountains of North Carolina bringing Vira Bhava Yoga 200 HR Teacher Training to Brevard Yoga Center starting in October of 2017.