This post is by Kelsey Kopecky, our March Pilgrim in Residence. Kelsey will be sharing about spirituality and life on the road each Thursday in March. Read Kelsey’s other posts at A Sacred Journey here.
Talk about a change of pace.
I finished a four week tour on friday in Knoxville, TN, exchanged stage clothes for yoga clothes on saturday in Nashville, and flew to California on Sunday for a 10 day soul immersion to learn how to teach yoga.
I meet up with four hilarious girls from Nashville and we make our way up the coast from L.A. to Ojai. The locals refer to Ojai as “Shangri-La” and I now can see why. It is a mystical valley full of bird sounds and vibrant color. After so much forward motion and mileage I can’t tell you how refreshing it’s been to spend hours everyday going deeply inward—inside my mind and heart.
At 6am every morning I make my way though an outdoor corridor, lined with the sweet smell of jasmine, to the yoga studio for morning meditation. Through the dark, the moon guides me to the french doors. I enter to find a few students settling in.
I smell incense and oil. In the candlelight I find a bare spot of wood floor to spread my mat. The air is fresh and cool. I sit on a bolster and wrap my shoulders with a blanket.
I start to feel the strength of my spine as it grows tall and I come into alignment. I find the place where intentional posture and relaxation meet, and I settle in there. I close my eyes and listen to my breath.
Fullness now–a mantra that a teacher taught me a few years ago comes to mind. I inhale and silently say “fullness;” I exhale and say “now.” I remember that all the peace I need is here in this very moment and I make myself at home.
I feel present. I sense my true self.
Then I think of bananas. Yup… bananas. Then Saul, my teacher says, “As thoughts come up let them pass like the wind, come back to the coolness of the breath.” I come back. I focus on my breathing and smile about the bananas. I’m a work in progress.
Yesterday we made a list of affirmations to create peace and love in our self talk. He asks us to meditate on these.
I breathe in. I silently speak these sweet words to myself:
I am loving.
I am healthy.
I am strong.
I am wise.
I am beautiful. (I start to cry…)
I am an open vessel of God’s love and grace.
This very act of positive self-talk allows us to have peace and kindness in our bodies, literally transforming our mental state and opening us up to loving kindness for others. I could talk about this for hours, but have to get into our next session in a few minutes.
To be completely honest and transparent (which is exactly the intention of this training/soul immersion), I feel equal parts inspired and overwhelmed at this moment. I am fascinated by the nuggets of truth I am uncovering through the study of the human body and this ancient practice. It’s honestly blowing my mind. There is just so much! The body is incredible, detailed down to the cell.
I feel like I’m back in college, but this time studying anatomy books instead of music publishing books and learning Sanskrit instead of songwriting. It’s not easy at all. It’s really challenging actually. It makes me excited for what’s to come. Everything in my life that has been this hard has been life-changing. Like Saul says, It’s like the fire that’s needed to boil the water and make a good kettle of chai. If you remove the fire too soon, all you have is water with some spices floating in it.
Listen to your self talk and observe your current habits. Do you constantly have negative stories about your experience? What if you replace those thoughts with positive ones? How can you be kind to yourself?