Another Bump in the Road


Flow's Mysore guide Jen Rene shares how an accident in India influenced her outlook on all things.....


When I stepped onto the rock, it never occurred to me that I might be swept off of it. Initially, I tried to hold my ground when the wave hit, but then the water rushed over my head and I realized how helpless I was to its sheer force. I remember reaching for the rocks, trying desperately to find something to hold onto and failing. I didn’t feel my body hit the rocks though I know it did. I had no choice but to surrender and ride the wave, and I was filled with a sense of both panic and calmness. I didn’t know if I would come up – I didn’t even know where up was.

I finally got my head above water, but my relief was immediately followed by the terror of realizing that there was no beach in site. I was in a rocky cove, and the way back to land was far. Waves were crashing into the rocks that I had just been thrown from, and I knew that those rocks were my best chance to get out of the water.

I got my bearings, and powerfully kicked myself to the rocks as soon as I saw a break in the waves. With the help of Peg and Meghan, I managed to get out of the water and off the rocks. What followed was a scary, long, and painful day, but I was also filled with a grave appreciation for the fact that things didn’t turn out worse.

When the universe imposes something like this on you, it is trying to teach you, to tell you something. I have no doubt that this will change things – my practice, my perspective, my life. Maybe this experience really is the teacher, and I guess this – and not the next pose – is the lesson I really needed to learn.

I am trying not to waste energy feeling disappointed. This accident isn’t random. I showed up in Kovalam feeling drained and burnt out. I spent the past month doing nothing but standing poses in my practice. On arrival in India, I was feeling cautious about participating in David’s teacher intensive. I was honored to, but worried about assisting David in the Mysore room because I didn’t want to overextend myself. I was being very conservative with my energy, because I wanted to go home feeling like I had rested. I wanted to return home feeling different than how I felt when I left.

Apparently, the universe wanted me to rest so badly that it literally forcefully removed me from my path. There will be no more advanced series for me this month. I won’t be walking very far or very fast. I can’t go to the beach, because I have open wounds. The Ayurvedic doctors won’t even treat me until the stitches come out and the bruises are gone. The Internet has been down constantly. I literally have nothing to do but rest.

Four practices into a month-long intensive and I hit another bump in the road. Reflecting on the past three years, I seem to have had a fairly big setback every year or so – Dengue fever, getting hit by a car, sprained ankle and broken foot. Maybe these mishaps are to keep me humble; maybe it’s because asana would be too easy for me if it weren’t for setbacks; maybe it’s to make me a more skilled teacher; maybe it’s to slow me down.

Maybe I’m just on the wrong path – and that’s why fate keeps picking me up and throwing me off. Surely there’s a lesson here. I didn’t decide to rest – it was forced on me. It was so important that it couldn’t possibly happen any other way.

I came to India with my preexisting expectations of how things would happen. What I’m learning, though, is that I don’t get to have control over everything – and maybe that’s OK. I like to be in control, but all the things I try to control in my day-to-day life make me feel like I’m swimming against a current.

I look for straight lines in life – the quickest way from point A to B. I look for parallel lines in my relationships, trying desperately to sync them and avoid conflict. Heck, I even look for unbroken lines in my asanas as I try to perfect them.

I came here expecting one thing and I woke up to something completely different. I didn’t decide this – it happened to me.

And maybe that’s my lesson. Yoga is to have this experience and get right back on it. I have to live with the consequences, but I get to live. I returned to my mat a few days after the accident consciously feeling a different body, a different practice, than just a few days before.

This isn’t my first setback, and I know I didn’t spoil my chance. My practice will come back and my body will heal. I’ll keep going.

Time and time again, life is proving to me that no one gets to walk this path in some straight line from start to finish. You get bucked off, you have to fight for it, and you experience some negative results. But what matters most is your response to it each time, and your return to the path.

As David said, “Don’t fix so much on the destination that you miss all the cool points along the way.” And now, as challenging as the universe has made it to get to this understanding, I finally think I know how to take that advice.

Jen Rene