Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.
— Carl Jung

It first clicked for me during a three-day "inversion immersion" retreat in Mount Shasta. (Mount Shasta, for those of you unfamiliar, is a small California town about halfway between San Francisco and Portland inhabited by a host of New Agers and believed by many to be a spiritual power center.) It was my first yoga retreat. I had never done a handstand before and wasn't sure I'd ever be able to, thanks to a lifelong fear of falling on my head and damaging my most precious resource. (My sister and I both practiced gymnastics when we were younger. When it became time to learn backflips, I gave it up in exchange for ballet where I knew my skull would be safe.) Still, I had been studying yoga with my teacher for about a year at the time and was ready to deepen my practice by attending a retreat, inversions not withstanding. Little did I know I would return to San Francisco with the intention of becoming a teacher myself.

It happened in the last few minutes of the last night of the retreat. Our teacher had finally cut the lights after an hour of sweaty flow followed by an hour of inversion-strengthening exercises, and we were in the dark but for a few candles in the middle of the hotel ballroom that served as our studio. We were already at the walls of the room where we had just been practicing supported handstands, headstands and forearm stands. He guided us to our backs and instructed us bring our legs perpendicular to the floor against the wall, sacrums pressed into the ground. "Close your eyes," he said. "Just be."

I was still worked up, heart pounding, still sweating. But then he turned on the song he always played for savasana, the one which evoked a vision of horse hooves, clouds and wet pavement for me, and, like a charm, the knuckles of self-control relaxed and my heart rate began to return to a place of calm. He let us lay in meditation for about five minutes before he spoke again.

"Bring your awareness back to your breath and to the sound of the breath of your friends to the left and right of you. Now," he said, "this next part is important so listen close. I'm going to fill you in on a little secret. All you have to do is..." He paused for several breaths. "Nothing."

"All you have to do is." He could have said anything. I loved that he said "nothing." It made all the sense in the world.

I got a taste of it then, with my legs resting against the wall of a ballroom in an old hotel in Mount Shasta. I got a taste of Self. Not the ego self with all its wants and needs and judgments and fear, but the Self with a capital "S," the higher version of who we are, collectively. The God Self within each of us, pure prana, or energy. The Self that can just Be. The Self I am now learning how to connect others to, within themselves, through yoga.

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