"I disappointed her. Then this happened…"
As we move into September and the end of the summer, my body remembers last Fall, and a hard decision I had to make regarding The Practice. Probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.
I had 60 women lined up ready to start their next 10-week program with me. These included women who had never done The Practice before as well as women who had been with me for years. All were looking forward to having this sacred time carved out for themselves each week. The problem was, I was sick. Really sick. The kind of sick that makes you surrender to your truth.
My truth was, I couldn’t teach. I needed to take time off. I needed to let my heart and soul rest, and to give my body time to heal.
In my truth, I faced disappointing 60 women…
I always hold close a quote from Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s poem, The Invitation: “Can you disappoint another to be true to yourself? Can you bear the accusation of betrayal to not betray your own soul?”
This is the true Practice. And I knew what I had to do. I had to cancel.
Taking a break, even for just one quarter, was difficult for me. But my body was pleading with me to rest, and I had to listen.
Now bear with me, because what I am about to share with you is one woman’s story of her disappointment with me when I canceled my classes. It’s real, raw, and in her own words. I asked her permission to share it with you, because what she emerged with is such a wonderful example of the power of The Practice, and why I offer this work.
As some of you know, The Practice is not exactly a yoga class. At least not in the typical way. The Practice is not meant to be a class you take and then forget you were there an hour later. We practice together in a circle of women so that we can transform our lives. The class gives us tools to stand up for ourselves, become our own authorities, and put ourselves first. This is exactly what this woman did, even in her disappointment.
So, when I decided to cancel, I wrote a letter to all the women who had committed to our work together and I explained that I needed to pause.
One longtime participant, Katie, wrote to me a few hours after she received my note, sharing her process of moving through the news.
She wrote, I began to understand that the whole quarter of The Practice was cancelled. My heart sank. My cortisol rose. I felt frozen and panicked. My own health has been whacky for a couple weeks, and I kept thinking a major factor was not having The Practice as much. It is my very best medicine. What was I going to do without my medicine?! Fuckkkkkkk.
But Michelle. Wow, so amazed she is doing this. I wish I could stand up for my healing and not feel so crappy and guilty about that. But fuck. What about my healing? What the hell am I going to do?
She continues talking herself through her process and listening deeply to what she needs to take care of herself.
Okay, listen Katie. What the hell do you need right now? Dinner is stressful, the kids are off the hook. Try to listen in between the chaos…
In her listening, her answer comes.
Time to have tea, relax, journal, and think. Yes, I need those.
Katie gets in the bath, puts on The Practice Spotify playlist, finds her Practice journal that we write in every week, and carves out space for herself, despite her children and husband on the other side of the bathroom door.
What would Michelle ask us? What would I write about in The Practice? I begin by writing down my prompt… How am I REALLY right now? What do I really NEED? Yep, that’s exactly what Michelle would ask tonight.
She sinks in to her writing.
Okay, I’ve got this. I write how sad I am that The Practice got cancelled. I write about all my worry. I write about how I still need all the components. I need tons of self-love and self-care and simplifying in my life. I decide to set my intention – another one that Michelle would get on us to do at the first night of The Practice.
LOVE. Yep, it all comes down to love. More unconditional love – mostly for me.
I can literally hear Michelle guiding us through things. I can picture a circle of women with various faces of those I’ve shared The Practice with over the last four quarters. I feel connected even though I am actually alone.
In her writing she remembers.
I am alone.
I start to cry.
And then sob.
I realize that what I am really feeling is scared.
Scared out of my fucking mind.
Scared that without The Practice I can’t heal.
I can’t do this alone.
The Practice was my medicine damn it!
So here I was feeling too late to heal, and feeling like my medicine was gone. I kept crying and crying. And while I did so, I started to feel love. I was picturing a time when I was sobbing at The Practice while lying on my mat. Michelle brought me a kleenex. I moved through my feelings. And I healed. I had been terrified then that I was too late. But I wasn’t. I healed. Maybe just a little. But I still healed.
And now, in the bath, I started to talk to myself as though I was mothering myself. Or like one of my dear friends might.
Katie – it’s normal to feel scared when your health tanks or when your kids are struggling. It’s hard having health issues. It’s hard being a mom. I’m here. I’m listening. None of this is your fault. You didn’t cause your health issues. You are doing the best you possibly can, given what you have going on.
I’ve got this. I can practice this all on my own. Crying stops. I seem to have moved through those feelings. Keep on loving on myself. Move my hands to cover my heart. Visualizing the yoga and somehow feeling it in my body even without moving my body.
You are okay Katie.
Michelle has given you the tools. You know what to do. It all comes back to you. You are always right here Katie. You know what you really need. You don’t need Michelle. Michelle is a gift. But you, you have everything you need right here. You know exactly what you need. You are not too late. And you are not alone. I love you. A lot of people love you. And you know how to love, and how to love yourself. You’ve got this. This is your practice.
In the end, even in her disappointment, Katie found the key to The Practice. The magic happens when we hold the tools to take care of ourselves, and remember how to love ourselves.
She is right. This is The Practice.
I am so proud and touched by Katie and her courageous story. It shows how we can take the teachings and the power of the circle back out into our lives and transform even in the hardest of moments. It shows how the true practice is carving out sacred space for ourselves so we can hear what we need, and honor our truth.
Katie is back in The Practice now and comes every quarter. But now she knows that the tools are integrated and she is strong even on her own.
I would love for you to join us this Fall, and feel the magic that Katie found in herself.
New 10-week programs kick off September 13. I have only 6 spots left. Go HERE to learn more.