11/12/2014 03:57 pm ET Updated Jan 11, 2015

Handstands and Lasting Happiness

Seven months ago, I attempted snowboarding. Choosing the lesson option first, the instructor was patient and kind. I was doing well enough and was about to go to the actual bunny slope to try my skills, but first I wanted to try one more move with both boots on the board.

Everything was fine and then suddenly it wasn't. I was going backward uphill and fast then dropped like a rock. I bounced on my butt, though the pain was radiating up my arms. I didn't even know I'd thrown my arms down.

In an instant, I'd fractured my left ulna and sprained my right wrist severely. My doc said, "Kiddo, you're lucky you didn't break both because the force is indicating you should have, though sprains often take longer to heal." Fabulous.

I followed orders and recovered right on schedule. I was warned it could take a full year. Close enough and not really having a choice, I found myself seven months later in an inversion workshop for my advanced yoga teacher training. I would spend 3 hours learning and doing preparations for and variations on handstand, forearm stand, shoulder stand, and headstand.

We started with handstand. At first, the pain was intense in the wrist. After a modification, I could stay up but I could not balance away from the wall! It was frustrating. I started judging myself, becoming harshly critical.

I took a break and one of my cohorts came to stand by me. She said, "I saw you balance." I laughed, "Yeah, for like a second." She raised an eyebrow and said with a gentle smile, "It doesn't matter. You balanced." I did one more and tripled my balance time to three seconds.

In the moment between upside down and resting, I realized:

  1. I am far to critical and judgmental of myself
  2. If I am willing to be that judgmental, I am susceptible to falling prey to the judgement of others.

I took this into every inversion for the rest of the class. Honor the moment, celebrate the successes and learn from the places that fell short of the goal.

That night, I received some disturbing news about what someone had said about me. I was initially hurt. This triggered a lot of my past and I knew it could send me into a really dark place. I have been working on a course on archetypes and shadows, so this immediately came to mind, as I started witnessing something interesting.

  • My wounded child archetype felt every judgement that had ever been received from myself and others.
  • The victim archetype immediately wondered, "why is this happening?"
  • My prostitute archetype started thinking of ways to make the situation better.
  • And my saboteur archetype decided I needed to pull back and play small to stay "safe".

Perhaps it was hours of seeing the world upside down that day, I felt as if there were two parts of me; one witnessing the archetypes and the other following the archetypes. I had a choice to go play in the shadows with my archetypes or pull them into a conference, giving them each a voice. I chose the later.

Simply being with your feelings is difficult. I started there. I listened. When they were all complete with their fears, thoughts, and desires, I thanked them.

The next day, the most amazing things happened. I woke up and realized the person who had shared the misperception had given me a gift.

  • I saw clearly how my playing small had created this perception and thus, it became a confirmation that I need to stand firmly grounded and play BIG!
  • I saw how I wanted to show up, play big, and with whom (which meant I knew who I wouldn't be playing with anymore and I left that community the person was leading).

I had chosen differently. Things that I have been struggling with literally opened like a beautiful lotus blossom.

Offers of love, support, and praise were coming in like crazy, even though I hadn't shared what had happened.

It was as if all along the Universe was waiting for me to make a different choice, one from love.

Working with my archetypes instead of trying to fix them or get rid of them had made all the difference in the world.