I have been practicing saying this most of my life as I have strived to go against the “should” of being a female in American society: strive to educate yourself and get a job, but make sure that you still find Mr. Right and have kids, preferably a couple of them. This will make you happy.
Little did I know how much I continued to limit myself by the notions of being a “productive member of society,” and what is an acceptable role to be productive. I remember when I decided to go to graduate school after being a ski bum - waitressing and working at a ski resort. My dad was so happy and he helped me pay off my undergraduate student loans. It felt good…for a moment. I remember my whole family’s judgment, including my own, about my brother being a bartender professionally during his 20s and early 30s.
I was fortunate enough to allow myself to commit and follow through with going to Dryden, Ontario this past September, where my yoga teacher, Prasad Ragnekar, was holding a Yoga Teacher Training along with one of my “sisters,” Carly. It was a homecoming, to be around spiritually like-minded individuals. I felt loved and welcomed. It was inspiring to see what Carly was creating because she trusted and said, “I can.” Prasad let me know that he was going to have a 300 hour yoga teacher training course in India this coming spring and invited me to join. My first instinct was, “I would love to but there’s no way. I can’t. Too much going on, too expensive, my work would never let me and my partner would not be supportive.”
When I reached home, I thought about the course and it suddenly dawned on me…who had said no? It was me. I just assumed I couldn’t go but didn’t ask anyone who might have an opinion. Why not ask and see what happens? So I did. I started with my supervisor. “So, I have a question and I’m not even sure if I will go, but I wanted to see if it’s even a possibility for time off. My yoga teacher is doing the next level of yoga teacher training in India this spring for a month. Could I take unpaid leave if it worked out?” She immediately agreed to support me. “We’ll make it work.” I could hardly believe it.
I had been thinking about the financial part, which I knew I’d need help with. I hadn’t asked my father for any financial assistance since graduate school on a basis of principle…which involved my hurt ego. He and my step-mother were visiting in October, so I asked them. They both agreed to support me and it opened up a whole other dialogue about my fears of talking with my partner. I’d never received such emotional support from my father. I guess I had never asked for it before. Again, my own assumptions.
Then it was time to ask my partner. It was not easy and his reaction was as I expected. Since it was on the table, we continued to have dialogue about it and he surprised me. He owned some of his expectations of our relationship, his need to change and to see what happens in our relationship. He shared he fears of my dedication to yoga and myself, wondering where he fit in. This is a conversation that will continue and we will see where things lead. The interesting thing is he also seemed to become more comfortable talking about the future together, where, in the past, he was non-committal…fascinating what facing fears can unfold.
As for me, I am headed to India on March 7th to continue my personal spiritual growth on the yogic path. What I’ve noticed since opening up to this possibility is more awareness of the guilt and of the fear that underlie my limiting beliefs. I’ve been able to talk with my supervisor about it and some of my close friends. I watch it and feel it and talk to it, reassuring it that we’ll go through it and just see what happens. Even now as I type this, I can feel the tension in my stomach and throat…so I breathe deep and smile. Thank you for allowing me to experience this with consciousness. Thank you Prasadji…