I'm still on the road. I enjoyed an amazing, intense week of yoga, hot springs and personal excavation with Seane, Hala and Suzanne from "Off the Mat". The key lesson I took away from that week was that by paying attention to my tendencies on the mat I could learn more about my tendencies off the mat.
When I caught myself staying in a pose for longer than my abdominal strength could sustain I noticed that I was staying there because I didn't want Seane to think I wasn't 'good enough'. Seane, of course, couldn't have cared less about whether or not I came up out of the pose. So the critic who was watching me for signs of weakness was, as always, really myself. As it is on the mat, so it is off. Lesson one.
The second key lesson for me came in the form of a great story that Seane tells about an important teacher in her life, a man infected with HIV who asked Seane if she believed in God. I don't want to tell Seane's story here, but the lesson of the story is simple and beautifully profound:
See the soul,
Invest in love,
You will never regret it.
I stepped off the mat and set out on a road trip with plenty of opportunities to put these simple lessons into practice. As with all journeys, I've taken some wrong turns already and strayed into the twisting downward spirals of shame, guilt, self-loathing and self-pity. But by paying attention to my own tendencies and working to release the grip of the story to make room for me to see the soul, I've been able to find my way back out of the labyrinth and onto the open road.
It was a good thing I did, too, because the open road (and eight hours of hiking) led to the top of Cloud's Rest in Yosemite National Park - a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of the entire park from 10,000ft. It's not a view you would want to miss because your attention was caught up by the drama of your own human frailty.
The view from the summit of Cloud's Nest, on the other hand, reminded me of my own insignificance in the best possible sense. It is much easier to let go of despair about one day of bad form when you are surrounded by thousand year old trees whose roots hold them fast to mammoth rock faces that have watched the coming and the going of the ice-age and who will continue to bear witness to whatever legacy we leave to this majestic planet.