The post below was originally published in 2011, and it's been updated each year to reflect where I am in my life and the new...Read More
Walking Your Path
Our kundalini instructor Robin gave us a prompt for a visualization in class last week, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot ever since.
She had us close our eyes and visualize a path. There were no specifics other than that at first: just visualize a path.
I immediately thought of the hiking trail in Tennessee Valley, in Marin County, California. This is what the trail looks like as you start your meander from the trailhead to the Pacific:
Then Robin suggested that we engage our other senses — that we feel the ground beneath our feet, that we see and hear what was around us. I could almost hear the scritch-scritch of the sandy gravel under my feet. I could see the birds making lazy, diving circles in the sky. I could feel the sun shining on my face. It was all-together pleasant.
Then Robin said a few words that transformed the experience from pleasant to powerful.
Trust your path, and know that sometimes, you won’t know exactly where you’re going, but you stay on the path. Trust your path — keep putting one foot in front of the other. The path may curve and meander. You might come to a place where you need to make a decision about which fork in the path to take. But whichever you choose, you will be on your path. Sometimes the steps might be uncomfortable; the sky may grow cloudy, the path may become shady or rocky. But eventually, the sun will shine, the path beneath your feet will become smooth. Trust your path.
We used the visualization at different times throughout the class to keep us focused and engaged during meditation. Sometimes, my perspective of myself on the path was my point-of-view: when I looked down, I saw my feet in the dirt. When I glanced around, I saw the brilliant blue sky and rolling green hills.
Other times, I saw myself from above, a zooming shot from the clouds. I looked small, but determined. I saw myself committed, moving with intention toward… I don’t know. The future? Destiny? Or maybe just a really good snack?
As we moved through class, I moved further along the path. Sometimes I tromped up the hillside…
As I got closer to the beach, I could see the mist coming off the Pacific…
… and when I crossed over the last crest, I was greeted with wide swaths of blue.
When I finally reached the waves, I could imagine the fresh air rolling onto the beach.
And I realized that in Tennessee Valley, the path ends at the beach. But it’s not really the end, is it? A wanderer can turn north and climb the rocks to see what’s on the other side. Or head south to scramble over the headlands and find what lies beyond.
Trust your path and accept that sometimes, you won’t know exactly where you’re going. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.
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Love this, Melissa. Though the path may seem unclear, it’s MY path. I can trust my footing. Thanks!
Thank you for sharing. This was very powerful to me and exactly what I needed today. I’m going to come back to this daily.
Thanks for sharing this Melissa. Your teacher gave you this beautiful powerful tool and we thank you for passing it to us!
i went to my first kundalini class over the weekend, and i don’t think my experience was nearly as serene as yours. to be fair, it was at the palmer events center, where we were practicing in a big concrete space with the background noise of the expo vendors and another yoga class happening on the other side of the room. it was also an “intro” class, so lots of discussion and confused looks all around as we were figuring out what we’re supposed to do while our eyes were closed. 🙂
anyway, i thought about you and that time you had your arm up and eyes closed for a long time and feeling the burn in your shoulder.
Sometimes kundalini is about serenity — and sometimes it’s about extreme discomfort… and most times it’s both 🙂
One of the other tips Robin gave us lately is that when the posture becomes uncomfortable, that’s when it’s “working.” It’s important to note the discomfort and then to embrace is or just observe it, but not give into it. Tricky business! But also so valuable for dealing with the rest of life, no?!
yes, very tricky! yoga’s always trying to teach me lessons i didn’t know i wanted to learn. haha.
Thanks for this Mel.
I love this, Mel! I know the Tennessee Valley trail you visualized very well and have walked it many times. I will be visualizing often now, I am sure.
North, south…or hop in a boat and let your options really open up!
Hi Mel, how did you come to choose Kundalini over other forms of yoga? This summer I have Friday afternoons off and the opportunity to do something different. Like yourself I’m a dedicated CrossFitter and weightlifter (love Wendler too – at 47 I love being the strongest woman I know!) but I’m looking to add more restorative work to my week beyond just walking or a taking hot bath.
Near my office I have easy access to ashtanga, vinyasa, and kripalu yoga centers. But should I seek out kundalini? Most yoga practitioners I know are doing yoga as their only form of exercise whereas my goals are quite different; I really don’t want a workout.
Would love to know what you think. That hike looks incredible! My husband and I have a Muir Woods/Yosemite backpacking trip in our near future.
The way I found kundalini was completely an accident of timing. I was working 9-5 and needed a class at 6:00 or 6:30 a.m. and the only class available at that time in my area was kundalini. I had no idea what to expect — didn’t know anything about it. I knew I had to do yoga, and so I went. I’m shocked and thrilled at how much I enjoy the kundalini. It is the polar opposite of CrossFit in many ways, but the focus and determination of CrossFit do come into play because the poses — while not usually too physically demanding — are mentally challenging. I don’t know much about the other types of yoga, so I don’t know how to advise you. We also do a beginners’ hatha class, which is mostly stretching and holding static poses (like lunges, downward dog, etc.) which I also really like. At our YogaYoga studio, I know vinyasa is pretty demanding, so if you’re looking for more relaxation/meditation based practice, you probably don’t want vinyasa.
Oh! Muir Woods! That’s going to be so wonderful. Good for you!
Your yoga instructor’s words brought tears to my eyes — “trust your path” indeed. What a beautiful thought! Thank you so much for sharing it.
What I like about this is that whatever decisiions you make at a fork in the road, you’re still on your path. You’re always on your path. That was a pretty freakin comforting to me.
Thank you for this. It came in quite handy today and, I suspect, also will in the future.
Thank you for this – your timing is incredible. In half an hour I have a phone interview for a new job. Hoping it’s perhaps a step on the path I’m trying to choose for myself.
Just wanted you to know that after reading this, I Googled a kundalini yoga class and found a studio near my work that has a lunchtime class! It was a bit awkward doing the stretches and exercises in jeans and it’s definitely hard to focus and quiet my mind in the middle of a work day, but I’m glad I tried it. Thanks for the inspiration!
Good for you, DJ! That’s so great. I hope you give it another shot and find a way to add it to your routine. It’s hard in the middle of a day to find that focus, I agree, but even TRYING takes you out of your usual consciousness — and it gets easier with time. I’m much more adept at shutting off my internal chatter now than I was 6 months ago. It really is practice.
I’m really glad that this message is resonating with all of you. It’s really lovely, isn’t it?!
Beautiful message and one that reminds me of “those who wander are not always lost.” So true.
Hey — that’s MY path. No, seriously, TV is my path. For a few years I walked it almost every day, rain or shine, and now I walk it once a week.
A Facebook friend did a really great promotional video for crossfit and I thought of you.
GREAT GREAT GREAT!! Thank you, I needed to hear this.
3 days ago my husband was presented with a fantastic job opportunity…half across the country. We’ve moved several times before but not since we’ve had kids and the thought of uprooting our kids has made me sick to my stomach, until I read this. You can call it what you want, all I know is that this is exactly what I needed right now.
I’m really glad you found this post helpful! And I’m sending you good vibes… when the shock of the move wears off, I bet you’ll see it as a big adventures. Safe and happy travels to you — keep us posted on how you’re doing!