Finding Drishti: The Making of a Yogi Table of Contents
Finding Drishti: The Making of a Yogi is a series consisting of 3 parts.
Just ten hours and twenty-one minutes ago, I was cruising down the I-405 at a comfortable lunchtime speed to visit my mom when– white cloud, smoke, stillness, and that ominous, looming, uncertain ring.
My nose fills with the unfamiliar scent of millions of dummy casualties, while my blinking eyes wander the surroundings. Oliver Peoples sits beside me, his glass unbroken and, more importantly, not permanently embedded within my face, and my steering wheel has been replaced by an airbag. Usher still serenades me from my Prius’ surprisingly capable speakers, and my water bottle gazes up at me, unstirred. It’s too still.
My Pitta mind jumps to, “So how am I to come up with this thousand dollar deductible?” while my reptilian brain stem finishes up its full body analysis. Heartbeat: check. “Really, Man in Large Truck in Front of Me, you had to slam on your brakes like an idiot?” Respiratory system: in check. “Should I pay for a rental car?” Bodily damage: none. “Damn. Really?”
I watch myself get out of the car, my once pearl-of-a-birthday-present struggling to let me out, then find my elbows rested on Man in Large Truck’s open car window. His eyes filled with disgust, he replies that no, he nor his passenger are hurt and that, “Okay, you’re sorry, but Hun, get out of traffic.” This is the first time I take note of the 70MPH traffic flowing to my left. Through his windshield I see the highway patrol jogging toward us, 90210 style, eager to put his name on this two-in-one case that may help out the raise he’s been working on. The first case is apparently the stalled car in front of Man in Large Truck in Front of Me that caused him to halt so suddenly.
After his slow motion close up, Mr. Officer arrives on the scene and assesses either my age or ethnic background with a head tilt before answering the first of the questions I had thrown up over him in the meanwhile: “Here, let’s borrow this gentleman’s notebook and I will help you exchange information.”
I’m starting to be convinced life-threatening situations brings out my inner Angelina Jolie, the kind of coldblooded secret service agent who wastes no words, feels no emotion, experiences no pain, and apparently has a really cool tattoo. Ignoring Mr. Officer’s tender words of concern and Passenger Boy’s entranced stare, I act in the same manner I did when I got my wisdom teeth removed a few years back. Immediately after waking up from the surgery, I had asked the nurse to remind me which pills to pick up, looked up how often to take each, and set my phone’s alarms appropriate to each drug’s prescription interval before my mom had even emerged from the waiting room. On the way back to the car, I refused the elevator, opting instead to show off how capable I was of functioning independently– or something. This time I was just demanding information about who to contact, where to get my car towed, when AAA was to arrive, and how I should explain the situation to my insurance company.
Though I did shed a few authentic tears upon hearing my mom’s voice over the phone, and forced a couple more to keep the pity factor in the mix when determining my estimate at the collision center, I flew through the rest of my day very matter-of-factly, telling no one, and making sure to make it to work, uninterrupted, by six. I didn’t even tell my boyfriend what had happened until I pulled up to his apartment the following day in Enterprise’s white Hyundai.
It wasn’t until I found myself in my own yoga class that evening that the severity of the situation had sunken into me. I could have lost my life today, but instead, I’m sharing something so sacred to me with two new students, my body untouched. If that’s not beauty, I don’t know what is.
I moved through the class effortlessly, flowing seamlessly through Vinyasas and speaking with that divine eloquence I’m only blessed with while instructing. It was a nice contrast to the stilted nature of last week’s class, though perhaps the most amazing part out of our practice on this particular pre-Winter Solstice Wednesday evening was what Savasana brought.
I’ve always admired those instructors who have the ability to make your soul cry with inspiring messages about lessons being learned on the mat and translated into life, and today I surprised myself by sounding like one of them. Coming out of this final resting pose, I let myself meditate with my students on the incredible life force present in our bodies, that which keeps our hearts beating and our bodies filled with Prana. I challenged them to accept the difficulties they faced on the mat while honoring the beautiful things their bodies can already do. I spoke with them about the gratitude they should have for being so alive and so able to have the physical and mental ability to practice yoga at all. Most importantly, I shared with them the largest lesson of my own day: love yourself and respect the process of growth.
Had I not have made it past this morning, I would probably have this strange and heavy karma that seeks nothing but present indulgence. Ambitious to the point of overreactive, I was born a forward thinker, capable of great things via an obsession with planning and problem-solving acuity, but less capable of essentials like patience and stillness. Yoga had recently begun to strengthen my ability to be at peace with lesser versions of progressed Asanas, but I was still working on that kind of self-respect off the mat.
Ironically, a few minutes before the incident, I believe I was criticizing myself for not being as “successful” as I would like and calculating how to better my professional image. Though preparation and growth is a positive thing, there was a tinge of toxic dissatisfaction with my present efforts that clouded my self-perception. I had been thinking of myself as incomplete and had never stopped to honor how far I have already come in life and how brave I am for following so passionately something I absolutely love. I was ignorant of how beautiful I and my life path already are.
So today, take the time to appreciate not just the things you have to look forward to in your practice and in your life path, but also the things you are already capable of doing. Express gratitude for your beautiful and capable body and if ever you feel yourself being thrown towards a difficult situation at 60 MPH, exhale, relax your body, clear your mind, and allow what is meant to be to come into fruition. The universe loves unconditionally and has good plans for you based on your created and expressed intentions. Respect the process of life and love yourself throughout all its stages.
This is the first of a series of journal entries that track my path towards Yoga.
Written by Yasmine Elli.