The more people I talk to about this, the more I feel I am tuning in to something that is actually happening... Ever since the the world has gone into lockdown, I have felt a shift in the air that seems to be more than just about 'getting through this'. For years now, decades even, there has been a kind of growing acceptance of and complacency about the unreality of how things are done and presented to us. We accept that the images we see on tv and even on social media are a filtered and photoshopped representation of people's lives that has no relationship to reality, but that somehow we are supposed to aspire to achieve. That advertisers feed us untruths so that we will buy the product, that politicians lie for political gain, and that if you can come up with a workable argument for why you are right, then that's good enough - that winning the argument is more important than getting to the truth. That the people that clean our streets, look after our sick - that key workers get paid less because their work is considered 'unskilled'...
Recently in my experience, the people I get to speak to and work with these days, seem to be waking up from the zombie life of permanent striving to achieve some elusive and fictitious goal. There was total awareness of the fact before, but I know for myself, there seemed to be no other alternative.
But now, all of a sudden, the whole world has seen what would have seemed impossible before - the world just stopped because it had to - and it was a decision. People were in shock of course to start with, but with this little bit of time into it, I am seeing acclimatisation to this new level of space and time and a new awareness evolving with it.
I am not particularly political myself because I have felt as disempowered as everyone else in terms of having any real effect on this external world. However I have long thought that the only thing I can make any difference to, is myself - my own thinking, my own actions. I got this idea from my yoga.
Just before I came back to yoga as an adult, I was a mess - I felt I had no say in my own life and that the way my body was suffering was because 'it' was falling apart and failing me. Not long into my yoga journey, I realised that my noisy painful body was simply reflecting the noise and pain that I was experiencing existentially. I couldn't do anything about external circumstances, but I could make myself feel better. The methodology was the 'Scaravelli inspired' imperative to 'listen to the body' itself and creatively follow the cues I was getting to make things better - ideas like 'self-kindness', 'natural movement', were there, but what these things actually meant, could only be discovered in practice - as in, I had an idea of what it meant, but as long as I was attached to the idea, nothing particularly changed. The time that I knew I had found what such a thing might mean was quite simply when it worked (ie - when the knee actually stopped hurting and felt as light as it did when I was a child; or when the anxiety in my breathing ceased and the mind became as quiet as the breath etc.)
It was the beginning of a relationship to my body, where I could test out the truth of my own perceptions and interpretations of things simply by applying it to practice - and my body would inform me of what was real and what was illusory. And what's more, this awareness began to expand into life itself.
I began to develop a broader view of things where I understood that the only thing I could really influence was my relationship to the world, and that by doing so, my perception of reality shifts, and that if it shifts in a useful direction, then I directly experience more ease, grace, energy and strength.
When I began teaching several years later, the truths offered to me by this universally available source - the body - yielded results for other people's bodies too. I could help in ways that surprised people. But my help was on a structural level, in that I could cause harmonious relationships for people at places of disharmony and dysfunction simply because my own developing body-map knew how it went. And I kind of presumed that the new relationships they were experiencing in their bodies would 'speak' to them in the same way. Some people became enamoured with the fact that what I offered worked and continued on through the process that brought them to a place of understanding the language of their own bodies - and it inevitably led to big shifts in their own lives.
But many were disturbed by the fact that it worked, because when I offered the reasoning behind it, the ideas contradicted what was understood. The complaint of 'so I have to unlearn everything I know?!' was commonplace. My answer was always 'no - that would take too long - but if you temporarily let go of what you know in favour of turning up to what is, then what you know will transform into something more accurate'. And for my two decades of being dedicated to sharing my work with people, the hardest part of the work has been in simply communicating with people, rather than their bodies.
Bodies always responded favourably, but if the person was in disagreement, I would watch them replace the disharmony in the body and complain at the returning discomfort. With those people I had done nothing useful. I have since realised that what they were protecting at a deeper level, was the identity and the life they had built for themselves. And the minor compromises in these things that were being reflected in the body were simply not loud enough for them to challenge the whole establishment of their lives. And really - who am I to implement changes that are not wanted ?!
So very gradually, I learnt to allow people to stay with their physical discomfort if they preferred it to existential discomfort, whilst continuing to offer the principles behind the work that I knew would eventually lead to an answer for them. Change would happen for them, when they were ready, and when there was a change of mind.
Over the last year or so, I feel something in the world has been changing anyway - I have found that brows are less furrowed when I talk about what works for the body-mind relationship - things that I would have spent all day explaining before, are heard and understood as common sense. It could well be that I have been continuing to change and have become clearer in my communication, but it has certainly felt like the world is beginning to join me in the way I look at things.
The upshot of it all is that over this lockdown, it seems people are getting real... They have time to assess their lives and their relationships, and more than ever before, the idea of 'finding out who you really are' is becoming a practical consideration rather than a luxury you can imagine embarking on once you've achieved your goal.
This might be why I have experienced a sudden upsurge of people wanting to work with me on their yoga practice. And I have to confess that I am loving this new level of self-valuing in people. Since early days of my practice, I have thought that if only everyone took the time to be in communion with, and listen to their bodies, instead of defining their lives by the bull**** out there that masquerades as reality, that the world would transform overnight.
If I had a magic wand and could get hold of the influencers and world leaders, and persuade them to feel the effect of their actions on their own bodies, and show them what self-kindness involves - most of the nonsense that keeps the poor poor, and the undervalued in their place would simply fall away. Because once you directly feel the effect of your own actions on your own body and understand it as such, it's almost impossible to continue hurting yourself. And once you see this equation in action, it makes it impossible to cause anyone else harm. But I do understand that this is a fantasy sourced in my early-days way of thinking.
In reality, the best I can do is continue share my findings with those that are (increasingly) called to work with me. Those keen to discover who they really are at an essential level will come, and those that wish things to stay as they have been will keep their distance - which is of course their absolute right. I am happy about this - I don't want to persuade anyone to change, I only want to help those that are authentically in a process of self-discovery for themselves. I am no longer reliant on 'helping' others to prove my own reality to myself, and something in that shift is allowing people that already look at life in a similar way to seek me out.
I have always before felt I belong to a time other than the one I live in, but recently, this has no longer felt true! So I say bring on this new era! I am grateful to be alive at this time and I find myself in a state where I am looking forward to what my next breath brings.
Which brings me to my latest offering... The Sacred breath - its a carefully crafted online course to support you in your discovery of the choices and possibilities of your own breath. You'll find it under 'Online Courses'... And I've made it half price for the rest of May 2020 as a celebration of my birthday (I am one year off from 60 and I've never felt better in my life).