You Are Ready

By Heather Lilleston, May, 2014

In December of 1997, a young woman named Julia Hill climbed into a 180-foot tall, roughly 1500-year-old California Redwood tree for 738 days until December of 1999. Julia lived in the tree, affectionately known as “Luna,” to prevent Pacific Lumber Company loggers from cutting it down. Throughout her ordeal, she weathered freezing rains and 40 mph winds from El Niño, helicopter harassment, a ten-day siege by company security guards, and attempted intimidation by angry loggers. In one of her interviews, she talked about how she faced each one of these challenges. She sat on her platform, wrapped in her sleeping bag, and prayed for strength.

Every time she prayed for strength, she was struck with another hardship. She continued to pray for strength, and again, another hardship. She said it took awhile, as she usually learns things the hard way, but that eventually she realized that she was getting what she asked for. You don’t get your strength when it’s easy, you get your strength when you are faced with a situation that asks you to use it.

Someone told me once that whatever it is you are given, you always have the ability to handle it. No matter the level of grief, loss, discomfort, or even success that you are asked to step into, you are ready for it, and you have all you need to work with it.

It occurred to me this week while I was planning 300 hours of advanced teacher training, writing this article, and prepping for a 30-person juice-cleanse retreat, that although I was in no way under the same circumstances as Julia, I was, like her, praying for strength. I could hear the voices inside complaining, resenting my commitments, feeling overwhelmed, and not knowing how I would make it through. I kept hearing “I can’t do it, help me.” Even though I wanted nothing more than to do everything life was asking of me and offering me, I could hear myself resisting. Sometimes we get the roadmap to where we want to go, but then resist what we must do to get there. The voice inside convinces us that we cannot make it through, and we resort to the hope that someone will relieve us from the current circumstance and make it easier.

In the midst of my own personal dramas of overcommitting myself, I also heard a quieter, calmer voice suggest that maybe I could. Maybe I was strong enough, had enough time and skill, and the pile up was only giving me a chance to flex my muscle of ability. The words “I can” came through a little crack. I repeated them. They lightened the load.

The question becomes: why do we doubt ourselves and fear what we are being asked to experience? Why do we resort to feeling like we can’t do so many things, when in fact those things are happening right now, and we are doing them?

There used to be a sign at the old Jivamukti studio right before you walked into the classrooms that read: “Are you ready?” I would be in yoga clothes, mat in hand, shoes off, phone off, so YES, I felt ready. Inevitably, when we got to an arm balance that I wasn’t comfortable in or never felt I had the strength for, I would then feel very not ready. I would hear this voice in my head saying, “I can’t, nope, I’m incapable, not now.” It’s in this moment that the strength you are praying for is being offered to you. But it doesn’t mean it’s an easy road. If it’s coming into your life, it means that you are ready.

Heather Lilleston

Heather is a Yoga Shanti-trained teacher, an advanced Jivamukti yoga teacher, and co-founder of Yoga For Bad People. She currently lives in the tropical island oasis of Manhattan, traveling to cold cities worldwide to teach retreats. You can find her at Yoga Shanti Sag and NYC, Yoga Vida NYC, and Love Yoga, Montauk.

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