Akhilanda Again

This week’s post is just a little bit of a cheat.  A teensy bit.

Last fall, I stumbled across an amazing blog post about a Hindu goddess named Akhilanda.  Her Sanskrit name translates to “Never Not Broken”.  Writer and yoga teacher, JC Peters, wrote this post last year and it was subtitled, “Why Being Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea.”

So here’s the cheat:  JC’s post is, in large part, my post this week.  Here’s her original article (even if you’ve read it before, I invite you to read it again now.  You may find, as I did, that I was touched by it in a very different way given current circumstances).

When I first read this last October, I found it inspiring and evocative.  I remembered lots of times that I lay in a lump, full of doubt and uncertainty and disappointment.  I’ve had plenty of patches of despair and fear, we all have.  Reading this post, I was intrigued by the notion that we have great power in those moments.  Huzzah!  Ride that crocodile!

But I wasn’t actually in a pile on my bedroom floor when I first read this.  Things seemed kind of fine and humming along the tracks as usual and this very cool post was moving and fascinating.  And I taught about it and thought about it and that, pretty much, was that.

On Wednesday, February 22, however, something happened in me.  I suddenly felt like the train of my professional life derailed.  I was doodling along and suddenly I was up to my wheel base in mud.  My teaching, that had been a source of Joy and inspiration for nearly a dozen years, felt flat and stuck.  I felt frightened and completely, utterly at a loss.  And I couldn’t make a decision about anything:  about what was happening, what was wrong, what I needed, or what I wanted to do.  Just like that:  broken, in a pile, in a lump, at my kitchen table.

Lots has happened since February 22.  Many conversations with beloved and trusted people (including, of course, with myself).  Having a thought (“I need to quit Nia forever!”) and then sitting with it, letting it seep in and see how it felt (“No, I don’t.”).  More conversations with myself and otherwise, kind people.  More sitting with ideas and plans (“I could just stay home and write!”) and allowing the sensation to give me information (“I can write, and I also need to move and dance and teach and be with people.”).  In this way, plans for a sabbatical began to take form.

Even though I now know that I am taking some time off, I am still in a massive place of not knowing, of uncertainty, often of fear.  From here, I thought of Akhilanda again.  I realized that what JC Peters wrote was not only interesting and inspiring, it was true, deeply true.  As the certainty of my future dissolved in front of me, there was enormous possibility.  I have the power, right now, to remake myself.  Right now, I can choose where I want to go and what I want to create.

And here’s the big realization:  this is happening ALL THE TIME.  All the time, we are breaking and reforming, letting something end so something else can begin.  We are constantly doing this and we always, always have the power to make the choice to remake ourselves.  But since this can be a disconcerting sensation, we often live in the illusion that everything is the same and will stay the same.

I still don’t know what’s really happening or what I’m going to do or how anything is going to feel.  It’s both exhilarating and terrifying to be standing on the edge of four months of sabbatical.  And it feels incredibly helpful to think of myself as a beautiful constantly breaking and reforming thing.  And while you may not be rethinking your whole career and life’s path at the moment, SOMEthing else in your life is breaking and reforming.  You are never ever not broken.  And that, my friends, is an exceptionally powerful thing.  Big breath.  Step into the brokenness.  And yes, get on your croc and ride.

  1. Lisa K. said:

    So wild Susan-this is just how I felt last year’s February. I did not however embrace Akhilanda rather I almost drowned in my own mire. Fortunately, once I was plucked out of the muck by the graces of the universe…all the pieces started to come together-always fluid and ever in flux but truly invigorating and new. Fresh life , other worlds and creative work have commenced. A miracle! Your sabbatical will be that great. Good Luck my friend!

  2. Thank you, Lisa! It can be scary to be in the muck, in a pile on the floor or the kitchen table. Akhilanda is a nice friend to have in my back pocket to remind me about riding the crocodile of fear and moving into what is next. Way to go!

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