Don't worry. This isn't an "everything happens for a reason" post. I think there is a difference between the times when really bad things happen to good people - I still struggle with where to put those emotions - and when, in our lives, we are met with challenges /bumps in the road. This post is about the latter.
Often, challenges are in our way to present us with a circumstance we might not have been exposed to otherwise. We may need to be strong. We may need to be compassionate. We may need to be humble or uncomfortable in ways we weren't planning on. In the opportunity to meet and work with those challenges we have the opportunity to meet and grow into our greater self or potential self.
This past weekend, I was planning to go on a big day ski trip that my husband organizes through his work. It's typically loads of fun, a great day of skiing and a dance party on the bus on the way home. But with an ankle injury that had been hanging on since early January, I was almost anxious about the experience. "Am I just going to waste a day sitting around in a lodge so I can party on a bus? Shouldn't I just be home with my kids? Is this even a good idea for my ankle to be on a bus for so long?" But we had already arranged for child care and I figured "what the heck."
The Thursday before the trip I get a text from Jacqui Bonwell. To say Jacqui is a yoga mentor to me is an understatement. She has crossed paths at numerous, pivotal moments in my life. She has taught me how to become a better teacher, a better student and - honestly - just a better person (to myself and those around me). Jacqui's text says she just reached enough students in her Kripalu session this coming weekend that she can bring a second assistant and she wants to invite me.
It almost wasn't a question of "if" - it was a question of "how." But when I looked around I realized everything was set up already. I couldn't snowboard - so I had a legitimate reason not to go. I had childcare - so I didn't need to set anything up. I just really needed to pack and let people know.
It felt like one of those moments where the universe says, "See that? See what I tee'd up for you? Sorry about the ankle and all but you probably wouldn't have done this otherwise."
Universe - 1
Alyssa - 0 ... touche universe.
It's hard to know what to say about the weekend. Jacqui has this rare ability to bare her soul in all its grit, break people open so they can let go of the stuff that's holding them back and then package them back up so they feel new, hopeful, lighter - and then send them away with a very realistic, actionable plan to carry the teachings with them in the future. The opportunity to assist that experience alongside the magical Kim Spear - who is also insanely talented, funny and wondrous - was like winning tickets to Disney Land for yoga geeks.
Now a note on assisting - Since I had children, it's been harder for me to assist and teach at the same time. I love people. I love assisting. But sometimes it's hard to do it all and keep a solid class moving. I don't know if it's an energetic thing, a memory thing or what. But this weekend was an opportunity to really practice that art again. With the words of Jacqui deftly guiding the participants of the class, I remembered the art of the approach, the syncing of breath, the firm but gentle presence of helping with alignment, the heat and power of Reiki work, the importance of sometimes just putting a hand on somebodies back and letting them know you're holding space with them. All of this left me so humbled, so grateful and so motivated.
The point? This was a pivotal moment for me in many ways. Were I not injured - I might not have seen it. Were I focused on people-pleasing (I had friends who weren't happy I wasn't joining the ski trip) - then I might not have seen it. Were I too stressed out to have the energy to put the wheels in motion and pack a bag that night in preparation - I might have just said "it's too much right now." But having a meditation practice, a yoga practice turns down the static of all that a bit. When you're less cluttered and more clear, the things you want and need to get where you want to be become much more obvious and the doubt around them becomes much smaller.
And even though it took a few weeks from when I sprained my ankle to when the opportunity came to be, I'm grateful it happened. So next time you face a challenge, give it a little space. Give it a little time. And listen if there isn't an opportunity somewhere in there.
Speaking of opportunity ... I hear Jacqui is running a Warriors and Yinjas program at Kripalu in the fall ... whooooo's coming with me?
Have a similar story about challenge that turned into opportunity? I'd love to hear it!