There was a lot happening in 2011, some wonderful (the publishing contract of course), some not so good (family ill health) and plenty in between. Throughout it all I kept a staple diet of yoga. I've been practising, on and off, for about 38 years, but for the past ten or so years have been more committed. Yoga sneaks up on you. You might begin just desiring more flexibly, to learn how to relax, but somehow it becomes so much more.
(I wonder, if you have read some of my previous blogs, if you think of me as being a bit 'floaty', a bit 'hippy'. Well, yes there is an element of that, but hopefully it's balanced by a healthy dose of pragmatism; I am a science teacher after all! I raise this now because what follows might be just 'too out there' for your taste, but I hope you will read on. (For others, of course, my experience will be familiar to you.)
A good yoga teacher is a blessing, and I have been blessed all my yoga life. A good yoga teacher guides you carefully and purposefully through posture, breathing, meditation and relaxation, and links them together holistically. A great teacher directs you, subtly and respectfully, to your own heart. I have a great yoga teacher. It has been during my practice that the most profound shifts in my self have occurred. In the silence of my mind I have 'seen' Shiva dance lit by glow of a flickering fire. I've been propelled through steep, dark valleys and swept towards blissful light. I'm not a Hindu, nor a Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, Jew, Pagan, or much of a Christian for that matter, but I respect the wisdom found in each and take to heart core values, including the humanist principles of atheism.
In my yoga practice, particularly during 2011, I found my way to the still, quiet place within my heart, where an unflickering flame burns. Here, I located what I have come to refer to as the Patient Presence, the Self, with whom I inwardly converse. As the name suggests it has been waiting for me to find my Self. In those quiet moments of relaxation and meditation, it acknowledges me with a nod of 'welcome back', knowing full well that I will veer away again. During the course of 2011, after the competition win, in the midst of my 25th year of employment, while some aspects of my family life were straining under stress, that central place within my heart became a sanctuary. All those self-help books drove home the point, "Listen to your heart'. I asked it, What am I to do with my life? There was no answer. It's a quiet place, that place within, but when I'm there I feel... calm, centred and at peace.
So, I decided that I would trust that feeling and live out of my heart. I would 'jump ship' ands see what would manifest. At the time of my life when I should be squirrelling money away for real retirement I was going to spend it. I'd always dreamed of a benefactor who would believe in me, support my dream to be a writer. I would be my own benefactor. What better way to show confidence in myself. Was I up to it?