Even yoga teachers and doula’s make big changes midlife. Read on to hear from Rachel Heron (our 3rd Act Retreat Yoga Instructor) about how yoga transformed her life and why yoga can help you in your life at the retreat!
"One rainy afternoon in NYC, in late October of 1992, my life changed. I walked into the Jivamukti Yoga Center on 2nd Avenue, full of doubt, heartache and discontent. Various things were not going the way I planned or wanted, and I found myself feeling jaded, cynical and stuck in a rut. A friend had recommended yoga to me months before and I finally decided to check it out for myself, not un-reluctantly, somewhat ready to be disappointed...again.
On that day I discovered a seed of grace, faith, and beauty that has remained ever-present for me in some form. I found a way of communicating with myself that simultaneously touched a deep place of longing and also felt like a homecoming. I found practice.
As a trained professional dancer, I understood the value of disciplined practice. What felt so different to me about Yoga and meditation was the absence of a goal, culmination, or public presentation. This created a significant shift in my perception, which at first was not altogether exciting. It was hard to orient toward my inner witness, to practice without striving or reaching for something different or better or definitive. It took a long time for me to realize, in an embodied way, that Hatha yoga (the physical practice) was a gateway toward meditation--the practice of sitting/witnessing/holding spacious awareness.
After 25 years, what I know about practice is this--it's about showing up as you are--joyful, expansive, faithful, inspired, clear, distracted, heartbroken, angry, confused, resigned, or apathetic. It doesn't really matter because the practice is here as a way to engage with ALL OF IT. We don't have to be better or more in shape or happier or even in the mood. We DO have to show up to get the benefit. We have to be somewhat willing to look a little deeper, to feel a little more, to be with our distraction and discomfort.
I'm not saying this is easy. It often isn't. But it's what we've got. We've got this body, this mind, this tender heart, and the capacity to take some action in relation to our suffering. Cultivating a practice allows us to discover an abiding and steadfast ‘center’. When we anchor into our practices we can notice the winds of change are always blowing--and in this recognition we may find some more space and ease and perspective amidst the ever-changing conditions.
Since that pivotal moment in 1992, I have followed a few different life paths, each one strong in its own right, each one essential for clarifying the next phase. I have learned that life is deeply mysterious, non-linear, uncontrollable, and unpredictable. I know what it feels like to make choices from fear and anxiety, and I also know what it feels like to make choices from a place of inner wisdom and guidance. While we don't know what lies ahead, we can take responsibility for our actions and do our best to make holistic choices that support our deepest well-being.
As I was turning 40, I started getting hints that my next round of work in the world would be connecting with women at potent times of their lives. This lead to a rich and rewarding bunch of years as a birth doula--truly a time of concentrated vitality and major life transition! And in the midst of that work, I was continually asked by yoga students and bodywork/doula clients for something else as well--they were seeking guidance around how to be in their lives more fully, presently, healthfully--they were looking for ways to alleviate suffering. It became clear to me that my next move was to formalize a counseling practice that could address these inquiries. And it was just at the time when my doula energy started to wane (at age 45, staying up all night with a mama in labor is not ideal!) that the form of the counseling practice really started to blossom.
These last many years I have been refining a modality I call "Intuitive Somatic Counseling". I catalyze real, lasting change for women in transition who want to create the next phase of their life with more clarity, satisfaction, and nourishment. The basis of this work combines compassionate listening, gentle bodywork, and strategic coaching in order to help you access your inner guidance. In affirming your own intuitive wisdom, we co-create potent daily routines and rituals that will inspire and sustain the changes you want to make.
And this brings me back to practice... We learn to show up, to engage, and to be with what is. We can make small incremental shifts and over time we notice something new arises. There is sacredness in the mundane, as we bring presence and mindfulness to the myriad details of life. In this modern age of abundant technology, stimulation, and options, it is my great pleasure to connect with women on a healing and awakening path: co-creating, exploring, and living in our vitality and radiance. "