Are you sure the door is locked?
Tuesday morning I arrived at 8:27 a.m. for my 8:30 yoga class and found all the students standing outside in the parking lot.
I live in Michigan; it was snowing and the wind chill temperature was 3 degrees. I couldn’t have been more mystified to find everyone outside!
I was told the outside door was locked and the teacher wasn’t there.
One student said she had a key and we could go in and practice yoga on our own, or at least get out of the cold. No one moved.
And no one checked the door to make sure it was really locked. We all just relied on the report of the first person to try it.
While I texted the studio owner, someone else called her to see if she knew where our teacher was. The owner in turn called the teacher, who was actually inside and hadn’t realized the door had locked behind her!
She immediately popped her head out the door and let us all in!
Now, this all took place over the course of just five minutes. But, at 3 degrees, it was a very long five minutes.
I reflected during class on the irony of the fact that we all readily assumed we were locked out when one of us even offered to unlock the door, and the teacher was inside the whole time.
No one even double-checked that the door was really locked.
This was a prime example of assumptions leading us astray.
And of giving up too easily.
How many times in our lives have we made assumptions that turned out to be wrong? Or followed the crowd because, surely someone would have solved the problem if it was solvable?
I have consulted the I Ching for answers many times in my life, and it seems the answer I got most often was, “Perseverance furthers.”
I have always been very inquisitive and asked my spiritual teachers lots and lots of questions. That was the genesis of The Wind Is My Mother coming into being.
I asked so many questions of my teacher Bear Heart that he finally said, “write all your questions down and I’ll record the answers and send them to you.”
One question and answer session led to another and The Wind Is My Mother came into being.
But before it came into being, I had mentioned to a friend in my spiritual community that I was working on a book with Bear Heart. She said another friend of ours had been working on a book with him for seven years so that I should stop!
My initial thought was that if no book had manifested in seven years, the other writer really wasn’t working on it.
But I let her follow up with him and it turns out he agreed he wasn’t really working on it so I should go ahead.
What if I had stopped because of her first comment? Good thing I didn’t.
Then when the book was far enough along that it was time to find a literary agent, I found one who signed us. We sent in the signed representation contract and waited three months without hearing anything back. I finally followed up with her and was advised that they had decided not to represent the book [and had overlooked telling us.]
That was very disheartening and I could have stopped there, but I didn’t. In fact, my writing mentor was surprised that I still had the energy to go forward after such a let down.
But I did keep going, and ended up getting a much better literary agent and publishing contract.
Spirituality is not one-size fits all
There were also times when I shared with one of my fellow spiritual students that I planned to ask our teacher a specific question and was dismissively told, “oh, I asked him that and this is what he said: _____________”
Fortunately, I had the temerity to go ahead and ask my questions anyway and almost always got a different answer.
I’ve learned that spiritual teachers often tailor their answers to where the student is on their spiritual journey.
How many times have you been told, “no” and stopped? Perhaps it was just the universe testing you to see your level of commitment.
In the tradition of some Native American tribes, when one is making a pledge to do something significant, such as vision quest or Sundance, or asking for a healing ceremony, one offers a sacred pipe to the ceremonial leader. Not once, but four times.
This means standing before him and handing him the pipe, which he won’t take from you. Then you offer it towards him again, and he won’t take it. And again.
Then the fourth time you hand it to him, he will accept it into his own hands and pray with you for what you asked.
This offering and refusing until the fourth time is a teaching and a test:
- How committed are you?
- If there is a setback, will you give up easily?
- Or will you keep going, no matter what, until you reach your goal?
This is a question that can only be answered by each of us. Sometimes the signs are such that it’s best to walk away and not pursue this particular endeavor.
We have to look into our hearts and use our intuition to know what course of action is right for us.
Even if the door is locked, perhaps we just have to find another way in.
Or perhaps it’s going to be opened if you stand there long enough.
I’d love to hear your stories of knowing when it is right to give up and when to persevere in spite of seeming obstacles.
Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller “The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman” and other books on health. She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes, healing practice and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com