GPS for joy
Posted: 24. 08. 2014 | Author: Kevin McCormack
In early 2010, after many years of spiritual complacency, a shift began to take place in my life. Looking back, I can pinpoint where it started; and like many other shifts in my life, I did not see it coming. The moment that seemed to change everything was fairly innocuous on the surface. My wife had been feeling bad about gaining some post-marriage weight and was unhappy with how she felt. She proceeded to tell me that we were going to a yoga class that morning. My response was clear and simple: “Over my dead body,” I said.
Clearly, I haven’t died and I did end up going to that yoga class with my wife. The class that she choose to go to was called Bikram Yoga. The short and simple gist of it is this: 90 minutes in 105 degree heat with 40% humidity. This body was in no shape for that. I don’t remember how long I lasted, but I assure you it wasn’t pretty. When class was all done, my wife asked me what I thought of it. I told her I loved it! It had felt like I had been there before in a past life, and going back in reignited the love for yoga.
About 3 months into this new way of life, many things had changed. I stopped eating junk food and drinking soft drinks. I was eating a lot more salads and veggies and a whole lot less red meat. I had dropped 30-plus pounds in that brief time, and my muscles were getting stronger and my aches and pains were becoming less and less. My energy level was high and my productivity was way up. Then, one day in class, I couldn’t raise my right arm. I could lift it with my left arm; but as soon as I let it go, it flopped right back down to my side.
My yoga teacher noticed this happening and advised me to see a neurologist. I ended up getting diagnosed with 3 herniated discs in my neck. I was devastated. I drove from my doctor’s office to the yoga studio and told my teacher that I wouldn’t be able to practice any longer, that I was advised to have disc surgery. In the calmest most assuring way, she told me to go across the street and see her chiropractor. I wiped the tears from my face and proceeded across the street. Long story short, within 2 months, I was back on the mat, stronger than ever.
During that 2-month period of time, I had some dark days. My job is physically demanding work with my hands, and I love it dearly. I had fears of financial insecurity. I worried that the rest of my life would be spent either in pain or eventually crippled. Yes, my mind made up all sorts of horrific scenarios, none of which were ever realized. Just the opposite happened.
My wife had bought me the book “When Everything Changes, Change Everything” by Neale Donald Walsch. The book mentioned that Neale did workshops and retreats fairly regularly, so we looked into that. Strange synchronicity took place at this time. We were tight on money and the retreat was not cheap. It was early spring and we had just finished our taxes for the year. To our surprise, we were owed a pretty good sized refund, more than enough to cover our attending a retreat.
At the retreat, we ended up sitting next to this other young couple for most of the 5 days. It was as if we had know them all of our lives. Their names were Nana and Joe Bright. Little did we know at the time how influential they would become to our transformational process.
After the retreat had ended and we were back in the comfort of our home, one night we both received a Facebook instant message from Nana and Joe. The message was the same to both my wife and me, although we did not know we were both getting the message. We were both asked if we were interested in being spiritual helpers on one of Neale’s website forums. Feeling a little insecure, I wrote back and said that I was not sure whether I was ready for that or not. Meanwhile, in the other room, my wife is writing back to Joe and telling him we would love to do that and can’t wait to start!
Many times we use the saying “hindsight is 20/20” in a way that is more demeaning than helpful. I can’t help but look back over my life, specifically the last 27 years, and see how all things keep leading to a better and more joyful place. Yes, even the most difficult, painful, and dark moments of my life have always led to more joy, more peace, more freedom.
A dear friend and mentor of mine, Lenny Sarro, used to tell me, “If your palms aren’t sweating, you aren’t living.” This goes hand in hand with the spiritual teaching that your greatest joy will come when you proceed outside of your comfort zone. I can honestly say my experience tells me this is the truth.
Another amazing person in my life, JR Westen, I also credit with extending an opportunity to me to live outside of my comfort zone. Actually, with JR, I have done many things that made my palms sweat. In each of these, I have met great people, challenges, and experiences which have helped to grow my faith and confidence that this is how happiness works. We can ask for it, but that may or may not work. When you say yes to opportunities and put yourself out there is where the miracles take place.
The final and current chapter of taking on greater challenges and moving into the next grandest vision I have for my life became clear this weekend. The yoga studio that my wife and I go to was hosting a lunch and learn workshop talking about their upcoming teacher training course. We went to be of support to the studio owners, Shannon and Richie Kidwell.
My wife and I had discussed this thoroughly before going and determined that now just wasn’t the time to take on a commitment like this. We shared all of our reasons: work is too busy, we are not good enough at the postures, don’t know enough about the body, etc.
I think you see where this is going. Again, one more time, because it reflects who I am, who I wish to be, what I wish to do with my time here on this planet, I said yes. And so did my wife, Lisa. And, yeah, my palms are sweating, my heart is beating. My mind tells me to be afraid, but my heart tells me to be excited. And to my heart I will listen.
If I can share with just a handful of people the healing powers of yoga, I will be satisfied. I am not going into this looking for what I can get out of it. I am not expecting this to pay my bills and become the richest man in the world from this. I just know it aligns with my vision for my life and my partnership with my wife. We want to give to others what has so freely been given to us. A medium of movement that repairs years of damage and abuse to the body, gives peace and serenity to a mind that is out of control, and opens the heart of those who apply it in their lives.