An Unlikely Seeker
The last 32+ years have hardly prepared me for the artistic, spiritual and yogic quest I find myself on today. Life is filled with twists and turns, isn’t it? Although I began my working life as an academic, for the greater part of it, I have run a large practice as a financial advisor, steeped in the highly competitive and, I might add, terrifically masculine world of Wall Street. I’ve worked with families, their money, market risk, and general uncertainty. To work in finance is to lean heavily on the left side of the brain. Even when they don’t want to, financial advisors take on the responsibility for people’s financial decisions. Sometimes it requires nerve in the face of unpredictability and always a steady hand.
Yearning For the Spiritual
The truth is though that the right side of my brain has never quite left me alone. All my life, it has begged for attention, coaxing me on a spiritual, more creative path. As a dreamy, emotional kid, I savored the quiet solitary times when I could let my imagination go wild. As an adult, I’ve had many enticing glimpses into the world beyond the physical, moments when the veil has lifted and spirit has revealed itself and imprinted a message on my heart and soul. My entire life has been punctuated with fascinating and extraordinarily vivid dreams that have, at times, solved problems or pointed me in new directions. Despite my deep dive into the worlds of business and finance as an adult, the spiritual and the artistic have beckoned. But how to bring these worlds together had never been clear until the day I discovered yoga.
Yoga Opens a Door
At 50, an age when so many of us cast about for something else or something more, I ventured into a yoga class. Like a lot of us I guess, I was, at first, just going for a kinder form of exercise than the martial arts that had left me bruised and tired. I wanted something that didn’t cause pain. Something that I could see myself doing forever. I really knew very little about what I was getting into. But from that very first class, held on a chilly racquet ball court in the middle of an old gym, I loved everything about it. It was physical of course and challenging which felt good. There were vast amounts to learn and study and that appealed to me too. And I was surprised by the amount of discipline required to coordinate alignment, breath and focus. The non-competitive nature of yoga was very foreign to me and proved harder than I cared to admit to myself. But I welcomed it as a reprieve from the Wall Street parts of my life. This yoga thing was OK. I was on to something.
I wish I could say that I flowed gracefully into yoga. But it just wasn’t so. Despite my best efforts of course, I quickly became ambitious. As we do so often in the business world, I organized my approach and set a few goals. I tried hard not to compare myself to others but that didn’t come naturally. For a long time, the left side of my brain was definitely still in charge.
Gradually though I began to discover something mysterious and wholly unexpected about yoga. I couldn’t really explain it but there was something deeply and surprisingly familiar about it that seemed to bypass my brain all together. There were moments – brief but crystal clear – when my body knew what it was supposed to do even when it could barely do it. It wasn’t just that a pose felt right to me. It was that it felt old, familiar and rediscovered. Amazingly it felt intimate and that drew me back over and over. I’d had my first glimpse of the enormous impact yoga was to have on my life. Slowly but surely, doors were beginning to open. I was hooked and I still am.
Yoga is a most powerful way to seek! As anyone who has done even just a little yoga knows, the mat is often where insights come. It’s also where fears and insecurities make themselves known. My practice has pushed me to explore myself but not only myself. Other things as well. It’s made me into an unlikely seeker.
To some extent, I still go back and forth between the rough and tumble world of Wall Street and the quiet, meditative one of yoga. I have one foot in a world where the risks are external and quantifiable and the other in one where they’re personal, internal and incredibly surprising.
Becoming an unlikely seeker on the yoga mat has helped me to live in the physical world with my heart attuned as often as possible to the spiritual. A quest I hope to pursue for the rest of my days!