Monday, December 31, 2012

When the Universe Speaks

"Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know." - Pema Chodron

I firmly believe that the universe likes to teach us lessons, sometimes in more intense ways than others. We may not always know what the lesson is, but it continues to come at us. For some people, they end up in the same relationship over and over again. For some lawyers, they end up always dealing with opposing counsel with whom they cannot get along. For some yogis, they get that same twinge of pain every time they push themselves too far.

How many times have you been working incredibly intensely only to finally take your vacation and that is when you get sick? To me, that is the lesson that you needed to stop sooner.

But we live in a culture that not only ignores those lessons, but idolizes those most capable of ignoring them. Who can go the longest without sick leave? Who can push through the pain the most? And when we can no longer push through the pain, there are all sorts of medications we can take to dull, or completely kill, the pain, both physically and emotionally. And these meds are easy to get, very easy.
But numbing the pain, or even going to a yoga class once per week to bring some "balance" into life does not rid us of whatever is trying to get our attention. It just makes it come back with more and more force until we finally pay it some heed or until it knocks us flat on our backs.

I used to ignore my body and health completely. It was about ten years, perhaps a bit more, when that began to change. But even more than a decade into this, the cues can be easy to miss, and even easier still is the cultural pressure to just push on through. But the truth is that the lesson always wins. We always have to face it, and it is much easier to face up front than when it has become too big to manage simply.

But sometimes we do not know what we are supposed to learn. Sometimes all we need to learn is that it is OK to slow down, that it is even beneficial to us long-term. Sometimes the lessons are deeper. Hiding from the repeated lesson may make the noticeable pain disappear, even forever. But it also deprives us of something we could gain. If there is a lesson, and I tend to believe there is, that lesson could do more than stop the pain from coming back. It could help us see how we can grow. Would it not be easier to stop hurting ourselves in our asana practice and eventually understand our body's cues? Would it not be easier to find ways to change ourselves so the people with whom we interact respond better to us? Would it not be better to live happier lives rather than dulled lives?

The universe talks to us in ways we may not always want to hear, and often "don't have time to hear." But it will keep talking. And while I have often pushed the lessons to the side to live my "real life," I have always regretted doing that. And this year especially, I have been forced to face the universe's lessons in new, and more powerful, ways. They literally laid me flat on my back.

I am not a big fan of New Year's resolutions. Instead, I like to think about intentions. The world is moving faster and faster than ever before, and it is easier to hide from that which we do not want to face in our lives until it literally knocks us over. If I have learned one thing from my year of being a lawyer (and I knew this going in, but it really hit me how true it is this year), it is that the work is never done. We could work 24/7, and still never be finished. That is probably true for a lot of other people as well in the modern world. 

Yoga has always been my separation from that world. I actually have yoga scheduled on my work calendar. I realized that was necessary halfway through this year. But as we sit here on the cusp of 2013, and I think about my intentions for the new year, I am struck by how important it is to actually learn to tune into the universe's messages on an entirely deeper level. 

Yes, we have to stop and breathe. But we also have to stop and listen. Anyone who has access to this blog lives in a world with more ways of connecting, healing, and living than ever before in human history. This is amazing! But how many of us actually take the time to listen? I have been lucky to have some amazing teachers along this path, but these past few weeks, I have learned the lesson that sparked this post in the first place. We can have all these tools at our disposal, we can have all the support (or lack of support) in the world, but we actually have to be the ones to do it ourselves. 

And that is my intention for the new year - follow the universe's teachings, to listen, and to learn. Interestingly it is not much different than last year's, which was to trust myself. But this is slightly different on a nuance level. It is to trust that when we stop and listen, when we trust ourselves at our deepest levels, the answers will be there. The universe speaks. And when we can clear out all the chatter of the world and the push to move faster and faster, we can hear what it has to say. After all, as Pema reminds us above, "nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know." So, my intention is to learn that lesson earlier and easier.

What is your intention for the new year?


© Rebecca Stahl 2012, all rights reserved


  1. Love this, Rebecca. Thank you for the reminder to set intentions. My intention for the new year is to really be in the moment. My boyfriend is constantly telling me to slow down and take a breath, and it's mostly because I'm always trying to be one step ahead of others, and probably myself! So thank you for this reminder! Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you, Sani. That is a great reminder as well.