In asana, I always emphasize to my students the importance of learning to trust ones intuition and to practice listening to the subtle voice within. I also seek guidance from others, but I’ve consistently and firmly believed that all the “right” answers – on and off the mat – already exist within. This idea became my personal truth and the foundation upon which I built my practice.
So I was devastated, when a few months ago my life turned upside down due to choices I made based on what I felt was intuition. I felt I had parted with a precious friend, a once trusted voice, and all the confidence that went along with her. My once proud roar had turned into a distant murmur and I found myself listening passively, as others told me how to get back on my path to happiness. I never found that path.
Instead I found myself back on my familiar, black, molting yoga mat that had accompanied me since teacher training. As I stood there, eyes closed, digging my toes into the worn out rubber, I remembered reading somewhere that although winning the lottery usually tipped the emotional scales at first, most people returned to a certain grade of happiness within three months. As I began my sun salutations, I hoped that this resurfaced statistic worked both ways. My emotional scales may have been tipped, but as long as I fed myself the right nutrients, it would be a mere matter of time before they tipped back. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, author, poet and peace activists comments eloquently on this concept:
Nothing can survive without food, not even suffering. No animal or plant can survive without food. In order for our love to survive, we have to feed it. If we don’t feed it, or we feed it the wrong kind of nutrients, our love will die. In a short time, our love can turn into hate. Our suffering, our depression also needs food to survive. If our depression refuses to go away, it’s because we keep feeding it daily.
Asana awakens the witnessing part of the self. Deepening the physical practice was a hands-on way for me to reawaken my inner knowing. Even when all external things like relationships, cars, jobs, fall away, the inner truth remains: life is divinely perfect. Seeking shelter on the soil of my mat enabled me to refuel my truth; what was left and still emanating from my center when all else had vanished.
I fed myself the right nutrients. I began incorporating more uplifting poses into my personal practice: headstands, handstands, and backbends. Placing the desire to be happy at the center of my asana allowed me to prioritize my intention to consciously grow joy off the mat. In my trials, I forgot what was available to me. Happiness is an innate quality already within, like the capacity to breathe or be compassionate. As I began to reconnect to my ability to breathe life into joy, effortlessly, the bond between my intuition and my heart began to heal and solidify. Again, I was humbly reminded that there is a reason we call it a practice and not graduation. It’s okay to fall, to break, and rise back stronger.
Mona Lisa Godfrey was born in Riga, Latvia, and grew up in Stockholm, Sweden. In 2000 she and her family moved to California. The struggle of constant movement at a young age, made Mona turn to dance and athletics for refuge. Initially drawn to the physical aspects of yoga, her practice eventually took a sharp turn when she began attending regular classes to heal an injury from a car accident. Over time, she noticed that the most significant impact of her yoga was happening off the mat.
The practice began to transform her life and she developed a more meaningful and spiritual relationship with herself and others. She continues to broaden her studies and enrich her practice with the help of renowned teachers in the OC and LA areas. Mona still enjoys being a student just as much as a teacher, and invites you to meet her on the mat! Learn more at www.monagodfrey.com.