Yoga teacher training had been at the back of my mind for a long while and yet until now I’d never acted on it. I guess I supposed it would be something I would do ‘when I’m older’ or ‘once I’ve mastered splits up the wall.’ Those simple and rather flimsy excuses were the only thing stopping me from flying to India and training to be a yogi master. That and finances.
And going against the grain...
The latter might come as a surprise to you because my career path has been neither linear nor atypical. As an
actress/writer/comedian/receptionist/waitress/anything-that-pays-the-bills, I watched my friends progress through their grad schemes and into proper 9-5 (or in some cases 8-8) jobs. Whilst I would envy their job security, pay packets and office socials, I could never commit to a proper job-job. The sort of job that is easily explained (and accepted) at family parties and school reunions.
Yet, what I’ve come to realise is that dreams and values are not the same thing. You may be chasing your dream job but failing to prioritise your values. This is exactly what was happening to me with my acting ‘career’. People would often tell me that it’s a wonderful thing to follow a dream. But more often than not I wasn’t living the dream: I was temping, emailing casting directors and auditioning for parts and never hearing back. Even when I did get an acting job, it was rarely a dream job: it would be a corporate role-play or a cheesy advertisement and yet I would still fight tooth and nail to get these jobs in the first place. Whilst these jobs would just about pay the bills, what was the difference between these jobs and my work as a waitress? The distinction of calling myself a working actress? I guess these jobs were a status symbol that separated me from the unemployed actor and everyone else in the world who isn’t following their dream. But as I’ve discussed, these jobs weren’t the reason why 10 year-old me decided- with decisive determination- that I was going to be an actress.
Dreams and values are not the same thing. You may have landed the role of CEO but you still feel discontent and unsatisfied. Why? Because whilst chasing the dream you may have dismissed your values: the things which make you you.
A workbook titled ‘Making your own Rainbow’ helped me to disentangle my values from my goals. (Here’s the link in case you are interested in purchasing a copy. It was written in the nineties so some of it is slightly old-fashioned- but the sentiments are the same. And I must say, it was refreshing to use a workbook instead of a laptop! https://www.amazon.co.uk/Build-Your-Own-Rainbow-Management/dp/1852525878.) It was recommended to me by my Dad who worked through the series of exercises after a difficult redundancy. Not only does it help you to work out what you want in life, but it helps you to sort out and highlight your core values. For me these revolved around family, friends and helping other people. Even though values such as creativity, learning and working hard were high up on the list, they could in no way compete with the values surrounding family and friends. Of course I always knew that family/friends were important to me but I had no idea how crucial they were to my overall contentment. I guess this is the case for a lot of people: constantly searching ‘outside’ ourselves for a sense of success and yet in reality the winning factor is probably at 'home' (both metaphorically and literally). So this realisation was a real wake up call for me. Even though I am not starring in a film or performing in the West End I am actually fulfilling all of my values. I have a wonderful loving family, who I’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time lately (living at home in my twenties has given me the chance to bond with my parents as an adult. It’s like mismatch but friendly house share where everyone chips in to help run the ship- I organise pack lunches, cakes and curry night!) I have a wonderful relationship with my boyfriend who also happens to me my best friend. And I have a wide and wonderful collection of friends who I’ve picked up from all over the globe! Now I’m not bragging, I’m just highlighting the very meaning of values, values which are often downplayed and/or compromised by dreams. For example, I recently got to the final round for a lead in well-known musical. I love the show and I adored the part, so in many ways it would have been a dream acting job. However, what I have failed to mention is that this show was touring the UK for 18-months. A hectic schedule that would of had me working most weekends, holidays and evenings- which would mean very little time with friends and family, particularly those working conventional Monday-to-Friday hours. So in many ways the job would have compromised some of my values and would have stopped me from doing my yoga teacher training in India.
Perhaps it was fate.
It reminds me of the Chinese Zen story about good luck and bad luck. (Here’s a funny little cartoon depicting the story https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=81XIhTePvKE.) The moral of the story is to be careful when deciding if something is good, bad, right or wrong- because you just don't know! (Not without the ‘beauty of hindsight!’)
The worst tragedy can be a gift in disguise. And something that seems wonderful on the surface may really be an evil.
As one door closes another opens or so the saying goes. If you remain open and alert to the world around you then this is generally the case. In my example, a theatre door closed and- as if by magic- Chandra Yoga opened its doors to me. But it wasn’t magic at all. I created opportunities for myself by acting on an urge. An urge to help people through the power of yoga. But more on that next week...
What I’m describing here is the ability to change and grow beyond your current circumstances- simply by starting a conversation. As I mentioned at the start, I had been thinking about, but not acting on, the idea of training as yoga teacher for a long time. The biggest excuse holding me back was the cost of training; it’s an investment of both money and time which I couldn’t financially afford. So whilst working as a temp in an insurance firm in Liverpool Street (and with a lot of time to kill!) I started conversing with Dr. Sushil- a yogi master at Chandra Yoga. I told him that I was a writer (amongst other things) and the creator of Where she goes. I spoke about my strong desire to train as a yoga teacher and my aims for the future. Quickly forming a connection over our common values and outlook on life (in spite of the 4,670 mile divide!) it became apparent that a trade of skills would benefit both of us. So in exchange for a full scholarship onto the 200 yoga TTC (teacher training course), which runs from 15th June- 14th July, I will be blogging about my experiences and offering and insight into life at Chandra yoga! In exactly a month today I will be flying to Delhi and then onto Dharamsala to undergo a month of yoga training. I will be meditating in mountains that the Dalai Lama calls home (fingers crossed I get a selfie! ;))
You'll be hearing a lot more about Chandra Yoga in the next few weeks, but here's a link to their website in case you are keen! www.sushilyoga.com