I was very excited to be a part of the YogaSlacker teachers who were representing at Wanderlust, partly because I love to teach slacklining and I love the energy of big yoga festivals, and partly to see my Slacker family and feel the comfort of being accepted for exactly who I am and loved as part of a group. I rode from San Diego to Long Beach with a lovely friend (we’ll call him Panther) who I hadn’t connected with in a long time. We spent the night at our other friend’s house (let’s call him Giver), then awoke on Tuesday morning, fueled up with fresh veggies from the garden, and drove up the 395 on the eastern side of the Sierras until we reached South Lake Tahoe. The drive was fun; full of rest-stop-handstands and arm balances. The energy of excitement was palpable and radiated from each of us, feeding each other, as we took pictures of our feats of gravity at each rest stop and posted them on Facebook saying, “Here we come! We can’t wait to see you!”
We spent the night with Giver’s sister, just south of the lake. In the morning, Panther and I had the time to lake a leisurely stroll next to the river, to talk and connect. We were blessed by a tiny green frog, a mother duck with about ten tiny ducklings, and rainbow trout swimming upstream. As we eased into our heartfelt conversation, Panther helped me make the connection between my back injury and the need for my spirit to move forward. As I mentioned above, I used to connect to the planet with physical exercise — trail running, mountain biking, climbing, etc. — which are all worthy connections, however, they weren’t the type of connections my spirit was craving. I would marvel at nature’s miracles as a sped by on my machine made of aluminum and rubber, and the forest would scream, “Slow down! You’re missing it!” And I would always reply, “Next time, another day,” never truly stopping. At this time, I attracted a partner who found connection in a similar way, and we connected to each other through these physical, heart pumping and endorphin releasing activities. As healthy as they are, they were like drugs to us — drugs to make us feel better, faster, stronger and under the influence of this natural high, we fell in love.
When injury overtook me, and forced me to slow, I was no longer able to have the same level endorphins that had pumped so regularly through my system. I wasn’t able to speed through the forest, and my aluminum and rubber machine sat lonely in the garage. Most of all, I wasn’t able to connect to my love anymore. In the beginning, I was resistant to this change, because during the times when I would have be out riding or running and connecting to my partner, I was forced to sit with myself, and as I did, I began to listen and pay attention to what I’d been too busy to notice before. Not only was the forest eager for me to slow down, my spirit was craving for me to pay attention. “This is IMPORTANT!” it said. And it took me a long time to realize that. But as I’ve worked with my spirit’s guidance, I’ve realized that I can connect to nature, to Spirit, to others, in a way that’s different and deeper than ever before. Unfortunately, my partner is still satisfied to connect through physical means, as he hasn’t had the opportunity or desire for the type of internal growth I’ve done. Through my injury, he’s offered little in the way of support for the internal work I’ve done, because he’s not sure how to connect to me on that level, and in fact, I’m not sure he understood the connection between the emotional/spiritual and the physical. He kept asking me to heal my back so that “we could go back to the way things were.” But I fear that I simply can’t go back — those old ways of connecting hold no power over me anymore and I realize how they detracted from the deeper connection I feel now.
So that morning, at the river, Panther listened to my story and offered, “Maybe your back stays injured because, if it were to heal completely, you’d have no excuse to move forward spiritually; no excuse for NOT going back to the way things were. Maybe your back stays injured to remind you that you MUST move forward.” And as the words fell on my ears, it was as if my spirit said turned to Panther and hugged him with vigor, because it had been trying to tell me the same thing, unsuccessfully, for months.
I knew, at that moment, that Wanderlust wasn’t going to be all handstands and unicorns for me. It would also include more of the deep, internal work that my spirit craves yet that throws my emotional and physical bodies into turmoil. I think I heard my body sigh, “Here we go again. . .”