I drove along the snow and slush covered roads, white knuckling it the three and a half hour drive (one that should have taken two hours, thankyouverymuch).
My instinct associated gripping the wheel with protection from bodily harm.
I was tense over my being late, and there being no safe way to speed the process of getting there.
I loathe being late. Ask my kids what mornings look like as bus stop time approaches. My voice tightens like my hamstrings after a 20 km run, and I turn into a female version of Captain von Trapp.
(Don't judge. Or do. I am working on this patterned aspect of my existence. Early morning Sadhana helps immensely).
So here I was on this drive, scared shitless over making a bad first impression. (Another pattern worth shattering). My only therapy available was "f-bombs" and prayer. Appropriate, given who I am, and where I was headed.
It was my first weekend of yoga teacher training. I'd packed up my vehicle and was headed to the city for two and a half days away from my family, a ritual I'd repeat once per month for nearly a year.
My treacherous journey nearly over, I was preparing to turn left onto the yoga studio's street. An advanced green beckoned me, as an on-coming truck missed t-boning me by what felt like a blink of an eye.
"F*******************CK!!!" I hollered, bursting into tears.
Driving around, I found a spot to park a few blocks away. I wiped the tears and snot from my face, and loaded myself like a sherpa with my mat, cushion, and backpack, prepping to trek through the still-falling snow to the studio.
I was so scared. I don't think I'd taken even a moment to acknowledge that fear. Yeah, I'd narrowly missed a nasty wreck, but that was really only compounded onto the fear I'd carried with me in the week leading up to my departure.
My identity was that of Mother. My three kids depended on me daily, my youngest was fourteen months old and still nursing several times a day. Why did I think that this was a good time to be leaving for almost three days a month?
One week prior, I'd been sick, along with my youngest. My partner was under the weather the weekend I left, though he'd very sweetly hidden this from me because he knew I was tortured by leaving.
Approaching the closed door of the studio space, I could hear someone speaking. I waited, willing my heartbeat to slow. When I could hear a moment of silence, I opened the door slowly, a very full room of people coming into view. All eyes turned to my sweaty shaky self.
"Hello. We've just finished our introductions. You're in time to introduce yourself," a turbaned woman at the front said. She was gentle, and her face and voice were even and decidedly... neutral.
I babbled something about being sorry for being late, it being an awful drive, and leaving my kids behind. I might have remembered to actually introduce myself by name in there somewhere.
The silence felt deafening. And the response I got was... decidedly neutral. Something to the effect of, "Welcome, find yourself a spot please." And then I was guided by a younger woman, who I later found out was the turbaned woman's daughter and the studio's director, to a space in the very back along the wall.
I could write about how I spent the rest of the evening, huddled against the back wall, wondering what I'd gotten myself into. I could explain how I'd felt claustrophobic and panicky and completely disoriented by how I felt that way.
But the truth is, what I was really disoriented by was the shattering of my expectations.
I'd expected to walk into a room of Kumbaya singing yogis. I'd expected to be smothered in hugs and sympathetic eyes upon babbling my excuse for an introduction.
"Awwww how scary for you." "Awwww how sad to leave your babies." "Awwww what a brave courageous woman you are, here, have a spot in our small circle. We're about to become life long friends. Do you know Kumbaya? Oh and by the way, here's some tea and chocolate."
Instead, my ego had been given no such stroking. I'd been met with steady, strong, loving neutrality. Neutrality that acknowledged my patterns and stories, but dug deeper to greet the Light and steadier truth beneath it.
Neutrality which said, "Hey there sister, I see your fear, and I accept it. But I also refuse to feed it. Sat Nam, beloved. The Source in me nods to the Source in you."
When I got over the initial shock of my Inner Victim not being coddled, I learned to appreciate and grow into a program and family that always seemed to know who I really was.
Love abounded (and still does). Sometimes that love certainly was expressed through hugs and tea, but those hugs always said, "You're not that story. You're bigger than that."
We were taught about the aspects of the three functional minds: the positive, negative, and neutral, and I learned to appreciate even more how that neutrality I was initially greeted with was aligned with my highest good.
When we are unable to sort through the tangle of stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what we're capable of, we need people in our lives who will stay with us and not look away. We need people who will gaze steadily beneath those stories and hold us neutrally. It's not coldness or lack of caring, in fact it's quite the opposite.
A neutral mind is an intuitive one. It sees the entire picture: the expansive, positive points of view, as well as the protective and contained ones. In other words, when my teachers saw me that first night, they witnessed the part of me that was scared, but they also saw the light of my soul beneath.
May we all be blessed to know wise beings who hold us in such esteem, who see the inner victim with love, but call on us to rise above.
Now if only I can do the same for my inner von Trapp.
Laura Biddle is a KRI certified Kundalini Yoga teacher with a special place in her heart for pregnancy and childbirth. She's been blessed to be in a relationship with her rock and best friend for the past twelve and a half years, with whom she has three children. When not blogging, teaching, or sweeping the kitchen floor for the third time in one day, she can be found searching for mismatched children's socks, or driving kids to extra curricular activities. For more about Laura and her yoga/reading offerings, visit www.rootsforwingshealing.com