Life is What Happens to You While You’re Busy Making Other Plans
By Shana Kuhn-Siegel, September, 2017
John Lennon Said It Best; “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
I did my first teacher training at Yoga Shanti fifteen years ago. That was back when the studio was on Main Street next to Kites of the Harbor. If you’ve been around long enough, you’ll remember that space—womb-like as it was—all of us packed in there. We didn’t even have a computer system then. I would sign people in using index cards. You can only imagine what it was like during the summer when people were certain they hadn’t used as many classes as I communicated they had! Those were the days.
Much has changed since then—with me, the studio, the world. My teacher training was the first-ever at Yoga Shanti: a long year spent together at Padma’s old space in Wainscott. That’s no longer there either.
I had no intention of becoming a yoga teacher—but my grandmother was dying, and I was living with her in Southampton while taking care of her, and I became the manager at Yoga Shanti. My yoga practice really helped me through that time. When our teacher training ended, I was encouraged by Colleen to start teaching, and so I did. So much of my life has been that way—thrust into opportunities that I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to have…and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The most magical experiences I’ve had in my life weren’t planned. They happened as a result of being willing to go exactly where I was led. I had never intended to teach yoga, but that path has offered me so much success, taken me to many amazing places, and connected me with so many incredible people.
I am not just grateful for the triumphs. I’ve been in a lot of accidents out here on the East End and they have taught me a lot of lessons that I needed to learn. I got smacked in the face by my surfboard, after nearly colliding with another surfer. I got in a car accident on Route 114 that would have killed me, except for the fact that my ‘87 soft-top Cabriolet convertible ricocheted off the trunk of one tree and landed squarely upside-down, balancing perfectly between two trees so I wasn’t crushed under the weight of the car. There were others too. And what about the countless decisions I’ve made over the years, that I might have chosen differently if I had the experience I do now? But isn’t that always the case?
I have been so many places these last fifteen years. But as I look back from where I sit now, I can see most of those places have come to me.
Ten years ago, when I was on a retreat in Northern California, I stumbled upon a spiritual teacher who helped me connect the dots of what seemed like all unplanned happenstances in my life. He revealed to me a path that required courage, willingness, and determination. I started to see myself as a hero—and saw that in order to discover more of the story I was meant to tell, I had to follow the clues…and recognize all the beliefs I held that interfered with that authentic expression. As a result, I have become more and more willing to follow the path that appears, despite my best-laid plans.
We each have a destiny that is singular and unique. Uncovering and expressing it is the most noble act we can take in our lifetimes. All this and more, I’ve learned on my journey—by saying yes to opportunities that I probably wouldn’t have even considered, if life didn’t take me there at its urging.
So now, I urge you: may you be brave in your own exploration and go where no one dares to go—into the heart of your own humanity. May you not be afraid of what’s right in front of you, and may you pause long enough to let life interrupt your plans. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be fifteen years from now, but there’s much I hope to accomplish: mostly discovering more of who I already am, and letting go of that which I am not. We are all a part of the great whole, consciousness itself…but to have that awareness, I know I have to stop and listen to those urging clues, and have the willingness to go wherever they may lead.
This is true heroism. And true heroism takes courage. It means that we must live without fear and judgement, and that we must take complete responsibility for the experiences we create for ourselves and others. Imagine what the planet would be like if we all did that.