The Spirit of Community

Seared, pink flesh is healing on my forearm. My thighs are spotted with mysterious bruises. My low back has the familiar ache that comes from standing in once place for too long. My body is tired and craves sleep and massage. But my spirit feels stronger, nourished, and ready to jump into another phase of growth. I’ve just returned from the third YogaSlacker Teacher Training.For the past three years now, I’ve been delighted to be part of the YogaSlackers Teacher Training. This year and last year, as co-cook, and the first year as a participant. This is the third year I’m blogging about the experience, and as I look back on past entries, I see that in the past I’ve written about intense physical struggle coupled with tremendous spiritual uplift. This year will be similar, but different.

This year, I am physically and emotionally stronger. While my co-cooks, Laura and Raquel, and I stood on our feet for countless hours over the past ten days and stirred, flipped, chopped and pureed, I lasted so much longer. I was tired, not exhausted. I am sore, not mutilated. Last year, I was at the beginning of a divorce, and the wrong song on the playlist would bring me to tears. This year, I cried tears of joy to be united with my closest friends. I have spent the past year coming into my own, and I am so much more ME,  stronger, still sensitive but thriving, not empty and in need of taking but strong enough to GIVE.

There is so much I could write about in a training like this — one that brings very authentic people together to create a community of building each other up towards a single goal, to share the art of yoga slackline. I could write about the amazing people, the kitchen dance parties, my physical accomplishments, friendships, physical and mental conditioning, flashlights, water lining, long lining, slacklining and acro yoga. But the thing that permeates all of these, the thing that links every one of these together and connects all the pieces into one cohesive whole is this: SPIRIT.

For the first several nights of the training, the group would meet and a few of us would share our story: how we came to our “a-hah!” moment in slacklining. Telling my story is always interesting, as I came into the group before it was a group, and somehow stayed on through fear and injury because I love the people. But as I prepared to tell my story, I realized it wasn’t just the people I loved, but their spirit.

Before I left for teacher training, I was focused (and still am) on turning my authentic self, gifts and training into a healing career. This task — fully owning who I am and what I do — has been a struggle for me. But I have found that I simply cannot be happy in any career, relationship, or friendship that doesn’t support my highest values, goals and aspirations. The YogaSlackers teach what they love, period. They decided years ago to just do what they were passionate about and believed that they would somehow be supported. Guess what, it worked.  I noticed an interesting pattern in my own life: every time I hung out with them (Sam and Jason, in particular), I would feel a huge sense of unease when they left. Why? Because their presence, conversation and passion reminded me that I wasn’t quite living up to my own values and beliefs. It always stirred up a period of intense spiritual growth for me, perhaps quitting a job or moving to a different city, and usually causing conflict in any relationships that weren’t allowing me to be authentic. My connection with the YogaSlackers is about spirit, and being encouraged to fulfill my own.

One day during the training, I woke up early and was very tired. My spirit felt disconnected from my body. I’d had very active dreams and simply couldn’t get the rest I needed. My thumbs felt injured from a combination of activities and that scared me. My burn was still open on my forearm and needed to be bandaged.  And I had this feeling that I could be doing more physically than I believed. That fear was holding me back. There was not a lot of time or space for me to find alone time; time to contemplate and meditate and find ME again. But this night, right after dinner had been served and everyone else was either eating or showering, I found some.

I want to long line more than I want to do any other thing on a slackline. I love the meditation of moving forward, one step at a time, and teaching myself with every step to be okay with where I am now, rather than focusing on the end or the finish. Sound like a familiar parody with life. It is. That’s why I love it so much. For me, the block to walking long lines is the mount and the fall. In the past, I’ve been injured enough where both were either impossible or just really, really scary. A 100 foot line has to be set about 7 feet in the air so that you’re not touching the ground when you reach the center. The YogaSlackers teach a sit to stand mount that still tweaks my back. There was a new mount called the Chongo that looks super scary but shouldn’t hurt me. And I want to long line. And, for some reason, at this point in the training, I’m ready to try.

What is it that takes someone like me, who is afraid of moving forward for fear of injury, and suddenly gives them the courage to take the next step? I was alone in the slackline park, so I took the bouldering pad and placed it under the 80 foot line, set maybe 5 feet high. I set up for the chongo mount. I fell face first into the mat. I did that about six times before I took the mat to a lower line and repeated the process, then lay there, crying, not about the mount but about something I couldn’t identify. The old, fearful me would have given up then. But I didn’t. Why?

I operate in a world of constant feeling, intuitive picture, and moving of energy. As I lay in the slackline park, releasing energy in the form of tears, I was suddenly energized. For the past several days, students had been pushing themselves, creating and reaching goals and cheering each other on. All of the sudden, alone in the park, I realized I was also a part of that and could feed off that energy. I got back up and really concentrated on the mount again. Opposite foot and hand on the line, balance with the other, set the hips back and match foot to hand….and…..I’m up! I walk a few steps and then do it again, and again, four times. I move back to the long line and….I’m up! I walk half way across, realize what I’ve just done (woot!), which makes me fall, and then do it again.

I lifted myself up on the spirit of community, positivity, authenticity that was being shared. It was beautiful.

As I start to focus more on Integrative Health Coaching, particularly the intuitive side of things, I’ll be sharing more here about the spiritual mechanics related to feeling good. In a nutshell, the more we fill ourselves up with US, the better we feel. Generally, when other people’s energies or goals move into our auric field (or our “space,” as I like to call it), we start to feel muddled, unsure, unconfident and disconnected from ourselves. However, when a group of people come together with the goal of holding space for each other to achieve their own goals, community spirit is created and can be shared by all. It’s the same type of energy that pumps up fans cheering for the same team, or what is created when a group of people meditate together. This is what I felt while in the slackline park and this was the feeling that permeated the training.

The only problem with group spirit is the withdrawal that comes from suddenly being separated from it. Our own spirit seeks the high that was created and ends up scattering itself around the country, trying to find it. The solution is to remember the vibration and hold it close, but to call your energy back to yourself and bring it into present time under the vibration you want to hold. That’s what makes you powerful again. That’s what makes you your authentic self, and that’s how you continue to hold Spirit.

For more information on spiritual mechanics, or to schedule a free 20 minute intuitive consultation, please email me!


One Comment on “The Spirit of Community”

  1. Anna, I love this! How inspiring and awesome. Reading this post made me miss you 🙂

    I especially love the fact that you were able to walk on the long line, and the part of this post where you talk about the spiritual mechanics of happiness. You are so wise. “…The more we fill ourselves up with US, the better we feel. Generally, when other people’s energies or goals move into our auric field (or our “space,” as I like to call it), we start to feel muddled, unsure, unconfident and disconnected from ourselves.” SO GOOD!


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