As most of you already know, two of my greatest passions are yoga and writing. The more I've practiced both of these creative arts, the more I've discovered a deep spiritual connective thread that weaves the two of them together. So much so that in 2006, I offered my first Yoga & Writing workshop at my studio.
The relationship between the two has become so exciting and beautiful to me, that whenever I take a yoga training or attend an author reading, I always make sure to bring anotebook and pen because I know at some point, the teacher or writer is going to say some brilliant thing that illuminates yet another connection between the two, and it will be so fantastic that I must write it down and highlight it with neon markers and scribble in big, bold letters in the margins - YES!!! YOGA & WRITING!!! I've been doing this for years.
Last week, I was happily attending one of my favorite writer's conferences down in Florida. I adore it not only because it gets me out of cold-ass NH in January, but it also allows me to spend eight glorious days, totally geeking out with about 100 other book lovers, readers and writers.
While the whole week is a total blast, one of the things I love most is getting to spend some quality time with my writing friends and mentors. (There's a photo of some of them above.)
Each day at the conference, we get to workshop manuscripts, go to author readings, attend lectures and discussions on craft, and learn about everything from revising your first draft, to getting an agent, to how to start your own small publishing press. Book nerd heaven.
About midweek, there was a discussion called: My First Novel - Mistakes & Successes with best selling authors, Lori Roy, Laura Lippman and Andre Dubus III sitting on the panel. During the Q & A - the topic of mentors came up.
And while each of them shared their thoughts and advice on the subject, one of the things that Laura said almost sent me flying up and out of my seat like some sweaty enthusiastic, parishioner, at a big revival tent somewhere in the deep south that had just heard the preacher say something so glorious that it was almost impossible to just let it slide on by without making some sort of a “Praise the Lord” testimony.
"It's good to have mentors - but tormentors will take you a long way too."
When I heard those words come out of her mouth - I felt like stomping my feet, raising my hands to the heavens and dancing around in the aisles shouting, "Hallelujah! Can I get a witness? Amen!" I resisted the urge, so I wouldn't scare the crap out of the people sitting close to me but I did start scribbling away in my notebook like I'd been possessed. YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! YOGA & WRITING!!! WOOHOO!!!
You see, I've been telling my students for years that as nice as it is to have supportive, loving people in your life, do not discredit the power of the assholes. The button pushers, the bullies, the bastards, as much as we hate to admit it or accept it, are some of our greatest teachers, too.
And for me, it goes even beyond that. Tormentors are not just people. They're also the things that scare you, piss you off or make you feel less then. They're the weight gain, the death, the job loss, the cancer diagnosis, the cheating spouse, the addiction, the childhood abuse, the sad victim story you keep telling yourself or the old baggage you've been dragging around behind you for so long now that you've been leaving a trail of bloody bits and pieces of your unhealed self every where you go.
That "fill in the blank" obstacle, reason, excuse - you know, the thing(s) that keeps you playing small and feeling separated from God/Source/Spirit. Whatever it is that prevents you from stepping into your power and Divinity, those walls you've built against the awareness of Love's presence and the multitude of ways you've blocked the flow of miracles that are trying to come into your life. Yeah, all that shit - those are tormentors too.
However, remember what Laura said, "... Tormentors will take you a long way." But here's the thing, you've got to be willing to change your mind about how you see them. As Lesson 28 of A Course in Miracles directly guides us, "Above all else, I want to see things differently."
So, how do we do that? How do we flip it and shift our perception of Tormentors into Mentors? Well, first thing first, you've got to know that it's an inside job. Here's another clue from super, smarty-pants buddhist nun, Pema Chodron. She got it right when she said, "If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher."
I would dare to say that anyone or anything can be our teacher (our mentor) if we change the lens through which we're viewing it.
If we come at a person or situation and look at it through the illusion of Fear, we will see an attack or a tormentor. However, if we choose (and trust me, it's a decision only we can make), to soften our hearts, or to let go of what we think it is, if we're willing to turn our thoughts over to the Divine, to Holy Spirt, to our Spiritual Team and ask to see this person, this thing, this situation through the forgiving eyes of Love.... I'm telling you - you'll be amazed at how your perception and your life can transform.
One of my greatest mentors, Marianne Williamson taught me, "Love is what we're born with, Fear is what we've learned here."
All that God/Spirit/Universe/Higher Power needs is a little bit of your willingness to surrender our version of events. You must on some level consciously want to see yourself and your tormentors differently. Now, you don't have to understand it, you don't even have to like it, but you do have to want it. The truth is, our biggest tormentors only exist in our own mind. Healing, is an inside job. Just crack open the door of your mind a tiny bit and let some of that light shine into the darkness.
When you build your spiritual muscles through daily practice and learn to shift your perception from limited human sight, to limitless Divine vision, when you start to experience the world from a place of Love instead of Fear - all of life becomes a mentor, especially our previous tormentors.
Right now, I'm working on developing an online course that I'm calling: Creating Fearless Flow - that I hope when finished, will give folks some down to earth, practical tools to help navigate this kind of spiritual process. And you can bet your bottom that it will involve both some yoga and some writing! In the meantime, just know that the Universe has got your back, Love is on your side and you're surrounded by a kick-ass team of Angels that are always there for you, ready to help.