It is another warm summer night as I write to you this evening. I’ve been putting off preparing this post as a lot has occurred since my last post (well, at least in my mind a lot of stuff has happened!). I’m listening to Jim Donovan’s totally hypnotic one-hour meditation called “OM: Mantra of Supreme Light”, a small portion of which you can listen to here:
First thing’s first: I’m happy to report that I am now officially a full-fledged yoga teacher! This past June, I obtained my 200hr Registered Yoga Teacher certification with Yoga Alliance. What does this mean? In a nutshell, it means I am now able to teach yoga around the world as a newly minted RYT 200. Since I graduated from my YTT training this past June at the Sanctum Retreat Center, I have already subbed a few classes for a teacher in downtown Edmonton (a noon hour flow class for downtown business folk) which has turned out to be a lot of fun. I look forward to the opportunity to teach privately and also a public class or two if the opportunity presents itself. Below are a few photos taken of my YTT graduation with my spiritual teachers, Lindsey and Sheena, and some of my beautiful soul sisters and soul brother. I am so proud to have walked this journey with each of my inspiring and gifted tribemates.
There’s also a second thing or “course correction” (to borrow Stephen Cope’s phraseology) that I wanted to share with you. In short, I have a new job! I decided that after nearly two years working as a lawyer at the Court of Appeal, it is time to move on to the next chapter of my journey. I will be returning to private practice and have accepted a position as a senior associate lawyer with a boutique litigation firm in Edmonton. I will be conducting a general litigation practice at my new firm with a focus on civil & commercial litigation, constitutional litigation, and human rights. I cannot tell you how excited I am to join this firm of distinguished and truly passionate lawyers who have argued (and won!) at the Supreme Court of Canada. These are dedicated lawyers who aspire to defending the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Canadians, and who aim to provide the best representation for each and every client of the firm. I cannot wait for my first day at the firm.
There is a third thing, too. I am proud to tell you that I have been nominated by the Canadian Bar Association Nomination Sub-Committee to sit as a member of the CBA National Council Access to Justice Committee. What does this mean? In brief, this volunteer appointment means that I will have the privilege of sitting on a five-member committee of lawyers from across Canada who are passionate about the issue of access to justice in Canada. Together, I anticipate that we will be discussing and sharing what each of our respective jurisdictions in Canada has done, is doing, and will do to implement ways to improve how each Canadian interfaces and accesses the justice system in Canada, particularly low-income Canadians who find themselves appearing in court as self-represented litigants because they simply cannot afford a lawyer, or they can only afford a lawyer to handle a portion of their matter on their behalf. The work of the committee in the past has resulted in a substantive report entitled Reaching Equality Justice Report which you can read about here.
And…there’s also a fourth thing that has happened, this last one crystallizing this past week. I have accepted a teaching position at MacEwan University where I will deliver the Introduction to Law I course as a sessional instructor to undergraduate students in the Business Faculty. I am very excited about this opportunity to give back to the community, and to build relationships at MacEwan.
So, you might wonder, how and/or why did I make these choices?
In a nutshell, I did not choose any of these things. I suppose one could say they chose me. I’d like to tell you why.
In a word, I believe this all happened to me because of an important teaching in yogic philosophy: patience.
In the picture that you see at the top of this post, the beloved yogi Patthabi Jois (founder of Ashtanga Yoga) coined perhaps one of the most recognizable expressions in yoga: “Do your practice and all is coming.”
Do your practice and all is coming. I came across this phrase very early on in my yoga journey, at a time when I was only just beginning to unpack the layers of this beautiful practice. What I have learned over the last two years is that when Jois says to “do your practice”, he doesn’t just mean one’s physical practice of yoga. Rather, I believe he means the physical practice as much as the non-physical practice of yoga. In other words, Jois teaches us that how we train in the non-physical is as important to discovering (or more accurately, returning) our authentic truth as much as the physical practice of yoga is to helping us walk the path of self-inquiry, discovery, and liberation.
One of the non-physical teachings embedded within Jois’ words is that of the practice of stillness and patience. Patience in how we react to the moment that meets us. Do we meet the moment with immediate judgment, aversion, fear or doubt? Or perhaps all of these things? Or, do we do as Jois admonishes us to do – do our practice and all is coming. At base, I believe Jois is teaching us that we must be willing to train in patience – in body, mind, and breath – without expectation of having to know what happens next, in other words, the outcome. For patience – the ability to sit in stillness without expectation – allows us to train in that other honorable practice of mindfulness I have written about before: equanimity.
For several weeks, I was not sure whether I would find a new job by this September, or whether I’d ever teach yoga after graduation, or whether I should simply quit my life in the law and begin a new career as an aspiring yoga teacher. I was not living the teaching of equanimity in this shaky and uncertain place. I was living in fear, self-doubt, and trepidation at the volatile end of the teeter-totter. Yet, I did not give in to the emotion of fear, or self-doubt or trepidation. Instead, as my training allowed me to, I recognized these thoughts – because that is what they are at base, thoughts – for what they were without assigning any identification to them or judgment to them. I allowed myself to sit firmly in the seat of uncertainty as the impartial observer and witness – at the center, steady and strong. Like the eye at the center of the metaphorical hurricane, I found a place of calm, a place of true strength and courage to simply be with the emotions that stirred up. And then, in an act of self-compassion, I released them into the ether.
There is no doubt in my mind that it is from this place of steadiness and calm, that I was shown these new opportunities in my path. They represent the type of “course corrections” that Stephen Cope so eloquently describes in his work The Great Work of Your Life, a book that I have drawn great inspiration from over these last six months of my training, and which I have written about elsewhere in my blog (you can read this post here).
The funny thing is, I did not hesitate to accept any of these new opportunities in my life’s trajectory. For the first time, in matters that affected my career, I turned to my heart instead of my mind. And my heart told me that I need not wait; the path forward was shown to me with such clarity that I did not hesitate. Not for one second.
There is one last thing I wanted to share with you before I sign off tonight: I have begun to spread my wings after my YTT training finished this past June. I have taken several different classes from a number of different teachers and studios in Edmonton and have found Lion’s Breath Yoga in downtown Edmonton truly a breath of fresh air. This is one of Edmonton’s oldest and established yoga studios. I can see why. This is a studio where I have found both the pedagogical approaches of its roster of teachers deeply resonant with my approach to the practice of yoga. That is to say, I have appreciated how each teacher provides a safe space within which the practitioner is inspired to move towards expansion, towards self-improvement each and every class, no matter what skill level he or she possesses in the practice. I have been welcome with open arms to this studio and am so grateful to have met such a supportive and friendly community of fellow yogis and yoginis.
As I begin this next chapter in my yoga and mindfulness journey, I will continue to do as Patthabi Jois has instructed me to do: Do your practice and all is coming.
May we all continue to make the conscious choice of doing the deep work of self-observation and inquiry. May we remember that the path towards greater clarity always continues, and that the task of alleviating one’s suffering before the suffering of others can and will lead us towards the path of illumination and liberation. May we be aspire to all of these things with an attitude of non-judgment, compassion, and patience.
I wish you love, happiness and hope, always.