Reflections on 2018: Challenge, Adaptation, and Harnessing the Energy of Our Potential
Looking back on 2018, I am remembering that I spent the last part of 2017 clarifying where I wanted my energy to go, and where I needed to unplug, where there was not a reciprocal exchange.
One thing I committed to was that I want to make sure I have the skill to welcome any and all people in my classes- that I should be able to adapt for anyone.
In my New Years Day Flow class, 2 beloved students brought their elder mother, in her 80s, who has some memory challenges and with whom I do not share a language, and who had never done yoga.
I want to say openly that that may have been one of the hardest classes I’ve ever taught. Managing an active flow class with several experienced practitioners, many newbies, several injuries is something I do frequently . I also work extensively with MS patients and other disabilities so it wasn’t my first ballgame in adaptation. The combination of everything at once, though- that was a whole new level. I was feeling at my edge.
But we set her up in a chair between her 2 daughters. She might start to talk or sing and her daughters would gently whisper her back. I offered arm movements separately from the larger movements and for the most part she followed the chair practice that was most appropriate for her— although at one point I came up from demoing a sun salutation to see her in full down dog. She came down laughing, and her daughters got her to rest.
It was not the sweatiest, most challenging flow class I’ve taught- but the compassion in the room brought everyone up a notch. We all slowed down to make room, not just for her, but for the parts of ourselves that are perhaps most vulnerable.
In the past year, I have learned even more deeply the power and necessity of accommodation- not just for challenges and disabilities, but for the individual. For ourselves. I learned from the people who trusted me with their stories and their bodies and their spirits and the power of their survival- and I also learned from being humbled by my own journey, all the times this year I’ve had to stop when I didn’t want to, or when I was stopped by an external circumstance or an internal shadow. I learned that accommodation is not just about getting through- it is about harnessing potential.
My eldest son is astonishing in many ways, and not neurotypical. Last year he could not finish the PSAT because his accommodations were not implemented. This year the care of his tutors and both high school counselors ensured that they were- and he scored in the 99th percentile.
This is the thing: our gifts are in our challenges. Honoring our challenges is not self-indulgence, it is part of the process of harnessing and directing our energy.
This year, I made trauma the main focus of my therapeutic work. I started a class for general trauma, and I initiated my practicum by creating a class specific to sexual and domestic violence. My umbrella name for my trauma programs is “Regrowing Our Wings.” This comes from the movie Maleficent, which I saw right before I left my marriage a little over 3 years ago. In the movie, Maleficent regrows her wings, which have been severed by a beloved for the sake of power, in a moment of crisis. This image was a beacon for me I navigated my life through I period where I could literally only see as far as the next step. My work in trauma is my offering from the first half of my life to the next. It doesn’t come from me, but from the million ways the transformations I am entrusted to witness dialogue with my own.
This is the gift we receive when we slow down to meet others where they are: we return to parts of ourselves like little forgotten treasures. We deepen. We become more.