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Where the path leads...

This blog seems to have shifted back into personal stories and updates. That's how it started back in 2010. Then it shifted into a service, writing short posts as useful reminders for those of us trying to better ourselves. Now, what comes out is simply little updates about life and my own journey. May you take anything useful and let go what is not for your own journey. Thank you for walking along with me all these years!

I used to think that there was one path. The path was straight and narrow and led to the promised land. That was my young self, the one who heard the promise of Kriya yoga and decided to head straight for Self-realization like an arrow. I was afraid to fall off the path and felt a deep split between two (or more) parts of myself. But as the decades progress and looking backwards brings understanding, I see now that the path that I walk is simply the road below my feet. Until or unless I learn to fly, it will remain there, no matter which direction I walk.

Now, let me be a little more clear about this understanding. The road can be more straight and speedy or more winding and steep, depending on which direction I walk. It has taken me all these 43 years to reach the spot where I now stand. Could I have gone faster? Maybe yes, maybe no. All I know is that where I stand now is a beautiful place and I'm glad for the road that got me here because here is an excellent place to walk from.

How I got here...

Twelve years ago, about the time that I met my husband and started a new chapter of life with him, the road that I chose went up a mountain. For the astrologically inclined, this coincided with something called sade sati, which is a 7+ year period of hard learning for the soul.

The mountain I chose was a redoubled dedication to my daily meditation practices and study of Self-realization. The road led me to experience moments of awe and wonder, but it also led me to parts of myself yet unexplored: the pleaser, the co-dependent woman, the inner critic to name a few. For these shadows, I was ill-equipped.

One of Yogananda’s very first published works was his Psychological Chart, but there is not much developed out of his teachings from there, at least not in a way I understand them. Pretty soon, I pulled on a 60lb backpack called 'babies' and kept on trudging upwards. The road got hard and steep. I needed to find a switchback. I needed a way to ease the weight, slow down, and find my footing again. Find my joy.

That is when Divine Mother sent me a good paying job that was easy to do for a while. That lessened the stresses of young family life. It didn't give me answers to why I was so exhausted on my path, but when pandemic layoffs set me free, it gave me the umbrella to weather the storm.

Then She gave me horses. Not one, but four and a mentor to get started in equine assisted coaching. I was so disconnected from my inner self by then, almost ready to give up, but the horses agreed to carry me.

For three years they worked with me daily to bring greater understanding about how these deep spiritual principles work in the world. They played out my 'parts', as they're called in Internal Family Systems, before my eyes and showed me who I really was, both human and divine. My desire to understand what I was experiencing with horses and clients led me to study mental health and related fields, finding new understandings that help me be more authentic.

I never would have let them go. But some of you know, the money ran out, the clients dried up, and the horses got sick (or injured). And so, I chose a path where horses could no longer walk with me. Maybe it was time to walk on my own two feet again. I doubted for a while that I had the strength. I held on extra hard to my last horse, in hopes I could make it work. But I could not. And, it turns out, I do have the strength.

Today, I find my path smoothing out and heading down a gentle slope. It seems that the years of toil uphill and the switchbacks have earned me a moment of Grace. Meditations are deeper, the teachings of yoga resonate more intuitively with the experiences I've gathered these 21 years of Kriya yoga practice, and although the waves of daily life toss me around still, I'm not taking on water anymore. I learned that I can float.

We learn most when things get hard, but Yogananda explained that the purpose of life is education AND entertainment. Both are nearly always in play. You can usually tell which one is in the primary position by what the predominant feelings are in your life.

A few lessons learned thus far about walking the path:

  1. Slow down when things get hard. Slowing down means a lot of things. It does not, however, mean numb out. Slowing down means finding more moments to pause and notice your surroundings, inner and outer. Take walks. Listen to things that support you. Reach out for help from those you trust. Put your bare feet on the grass. Pet your dog. Definitely, smell some roses.

  2. Follow your joy. Following joy does not mean 'do stuff that feels good, but is probably bad for you.' Following joy means noticing what positive activities in your life have a spark for you and do more of that. For me it was friends, adventures with my family, and horses. For you, maybe it's tennis or backpacking or fill in the blank.

  3. Let doubt walk with you for a while. When things get hard, doubt usually steps in to help. Doubt is trying to protect you from something. Yoga teaches that reason follows feeling, so to address doubt, feeling is at the root. The way through doubt is patience and love. You don't need to have all the answers right now, just take it one step at a time. And, while you're patiently figuring stuff out, cultivate love for your friends, family, community, the world, and yourself. Clarity will come in time and love will help you focus on what matters most as it comes.

  4. Cling to your practices. If you’re on a spiritual path, hard times are the times we need our centering practices most. If you don't have a regular practice, hard times are good times to seek one out. They may feel dry. You may be too restless to sit in meditation, too depressed to practice yoga. If all you can do is listen to your teacher while flat on your back, do that. At one low point in my life, my turnaround started when I lay on my bed, eyes closed, listening in the rare quiet moments of my day to talks by my teacher Swami Kriyananda for several days in a row. By the fourth day, solutions began to appear. The Bhagavad Gita promises that, “even a little practice of this inward religion will free one from dire fears and colossal suffering.” That has proven true for me. 

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Feb 22

Thanks for sharing so openly about your journey, Gita. All the best to you and the family 💕

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