In the fall of 2014, I moved to Victoria shortly after deciding to hang up my racing gear. Five years before, I’d sold my home and left my teaching job a few years prior to “chase a dream.” After all, I didn’t want to be a 90 year old in her rocking chair who wondered “what if?”
Then a year later there was a fateful moment where everything changed. A split second collision that had doctors and surgeons tell me I’d be lucky to walk again – forget racing. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly in the plans…
And now, here it is 2014. After having given it my all, it was clear that although I’d made a pretty incredible comeback to the sport, I wasn’t the athlete I was before the accident. Instead I was in a battle with life resulting in a spiral of disappointment after disappointment. Injuries piled up as I pushed my body to do what it no longer wanted to do. I was lost, confused and scared. “Who am I if I’m not an athlete?” It was a question I’d been avoiding until I could no longer avoid it.
My best friend, who still lived in Victoria called me up shortly after I got back to Canada after my last race in Las Vegas and said, “Hey Janelle, I’ve got a spare bedroom in my house. You’ve got an open road ahead of you and you can go anywhere now. Why don’t come you come stay with me and check out Victoria?”
I was motivated to come to Victoria to check it out, and really, I came because I was struggling with the transition and what girl doesn’t want her best friend during times like this? Like the brilliant best friend she was/is she knew what I needed more than I did at the time. I hopped on a ferry a few days later en route to Victoria. Thank God for best friends.
I stayed with her for several months. (yep…best friend) I went for long walks on the beach, ate my meals slowly, did yoga twice a day, every day. From a nervous system and body where I’d pushed it to the limit day after day, the rest and space I had during that time was a brilliant reprieve. Every yoga class I did was an act of healing.
I’d listen to the instructor’s voices, calm and grounded, and I felt like they were all speaking directly to me. “Just breathe.” “Notice your experience.” “You are enough.” This kind of language, the gentleness and softness, was not what I was familiar to after thousands of miles of pavement pounding and 4 hour threshold heart rate sessions.
I remember one time specifically it was said during a Yin class, “We think of ‘big’ as better. Notice the small, the subtle, this is where the magic is.” It was like an epiphany for me. My whole life was about bigger and better. Wasn’t that how it was?
I began to realize that maybe my perspective and lens in which I’d lived my whole life, was only just that – a lens. Maybe it didn’t have to be more. Maybe it could be more. Maybe it could be less. Maybe it wasn’t what mattered. Maybe it was all okay just exactly as it was/is. Maybe I was perfectly okay just as I was! Just as I was in this very moment….
There’s huge value in going inside, settling your nervous system, slowing down, noticing what’s there, witnessing your experience, being aware of your feelings, physical sensations and emotions. I became a Kundalini Yoga teacher because there’s so much value in it that I’m passionate to making available to others.
And you can also spend too much time “inside.”
As much as I was discovering and experiencing peace within myself and my experience and gaining an increasing ability to make myself happy, I wasn’t very good at making others happy, which in turn didn’t actually make me happy. True, my energy had shifted and I was more easeful with myself and people but my attention was still, almost entirely…on myself. I’d decide that I was more easeful but I was concentrating on being easeful that I wasn’t actually being with others. And my ‘ease’ actually made very little difference out here in the world because I was still all about ME!
I was in touch with my opinions and judgements…but I owned them as my truth. I was still swimming in a sea of judgements and opinions – I was just really aware of them now. And the result is that it kept me separate from other people. I was in touch with my opinions and feelings – and I was right about them.
I once wrote in my journal about needing to “protect myself from other people’s energy.” As though if life occurred to them differently than me that I needed to ward them off. So I closed off to those who I didn’t “align” with. I didn’t consider taking an interest in the occurring world of other people What they’re dealing with? What they’re challenged with? What’s important to them?
The inner workings of our head is usually not a very nice place to be. You likely have noticed this already. Demands, worries, fears, plans….it goes on and on. Although the value of yoga, meditation and slowing down is of tremendous value for us as a society because it allows us to slow down and be aware of our experience, whatever it is. I recommend it to every person on the planet. But happiness doesn’t live in your head.
We need more coming out here – out into the world – where life and your happiness is. Life takes place in relationships with other magnificent human beings – not in the inner dialogue fantasy world of our heads.
So keep practicing yoga and meditation and take it a step further and try on some of these very simple tips. Bring forward the ease you get from the mat out here into the world where it counts:
Be more curious about the occurring world of others .
Be less curious about your judgements, criticisms and assessments (they never having anything new to offer anyways.)
Take an extra few moments to find out what’s important to someone.
Share yourself (all anybody wants is YOU anyways.)
Those people you’re convinced you “know” best – put aside all you know about them, and meet them newly for the first time.
Do you LOVE yoga and/or want to find out how it can benefit you? Come join us at the 2018 Victoria Yoga Conference from Feb 9 – 11. Janelle will be facilitating a Kundalini Yoga “Power in Stillness” where you’ll go deep to connect with the power within – and then take it off the mat with people – where it counts.