Your Hero’s Journey: Meeting with Love
Ugh, I’m running late again! I think to myself as I scurry around my apartment, getting my things together. I hurriedly throw on a tank top and shimmy on my slightly worn but oh so favorite Prana pants. They make my butt look nice. Quickly, I dart into the bathroom to grab a hairband for my short, dark blonde hair. In a moment of pause, I remind myself to breathe. I am going to yoga after all.
My blue eyes gaze intently at myself in the mirror. I look OK for having no makeup on and being in a total rush, just slightly flushed. I don’t usually care too much what I look like for yoga, since I’m gonna get all sweaty anyways. After hastily shoving on my Smart Wool socks and my hiking boots, I grab my winter coat and my yoga mat and run out the door.
I walk briskly down the street, careful not to trip over the uneven bricks in the quaint Shepherdstown sidewalks. Although it’s a cold December Saturday in West Virginia, there are still people walking along the main drag of German Street doing holiday shopping. I bustle the block and a half to Jala Yoga, and shove the old door open with a creak.
Good, I’m not late. There are still a few people sitting and standing in the little lobby. Ruth, a sweet, middle-aged woman, gives me a hug as I enter. My friend and yoga teacher, Soozie, is sitting at the little desk writing down people’s names to check them in. But although I love them, these wonderful friends are not what catches my attention.
But the guy sitting on the stairs has.
At first, I thought it was just because he was a guy, and not a lot of guys came to Jala. But in the back of my mind, I was rapidly and semiconsciously deciding if I thought he was cute or not. He had long brown hair in a ponytail and dark eyes. His face was cleanly shaved, but still had a rugged look. He looked to be young, about the same age as me, and looked fit, in a lean way – neither super built nor scrawny.
Hot hippie flashed through my mind.
Followed shortly thereafter by Jesus.
As in the guy looks like Jesus.
As fast as I measure him up, I brush it aside. Play it cool, D. Thank God I wore my Prana pants.
Both he and Soozie look my way as I walk inside and set my things down.
“Hi, Danie!” Soozie smiles warmly as she stands up to give me a hug. When Soozie hugs you, man, it always feels like she really means it. She never rushes away or gives you that half-hearted awkward one-armed hug. She’d hold you and rub your back a little, like she hadn’t seen you in ages. I saw her yesterday.
Soozie continues to stand after our embrace. Almost like she knows my curiosity is brimming over, she nods towards the stairs at her left.
“This is Jonny, remember, the one who gave us directions to the hiking trail in Maryland?”
Recognition hit me. So this is Jesus. Shit… I mean Jonathan.
Upon hearing his name, Jonny stood up to greet me. He had a handsome face to begin with, but his wide grin totally transformed it.
“Hi, I’m Danielle.” I said. I felt quite outgoing and myself at that moment, even though I often felt a little awkward meeting guys for the first time.
“Do you want to be called Danie or Danielle?” Soozie asked. “I keep introducing you as Danie since that’s what I call you.”
“Well, I’ve usually introduce myself as Danielle, since that’s what I call myself in my head,” I answered.
Oh great, I immediately think. Now you’ve just told people you’ve got voices in your head.
I turn to the cute new yogi. “And do you like to go by Johnny or Jonathan? I’ve heard Soozie call you both.”
He paused as he thought about it, gazing upward.
Then his gentle gaze shifted back to me and he replies, “Jonathan, I call myself Jonathan in my head.”
He smiled, like we had a sort of inside joke about introducing yourself what you called yourself in your head. Which could be funny, depending on what you call yourself in your head.
“Jonathan it is then!”
“Well, I guess we should go upstairs and start,” Soozie said, and we walked up the rickety stairs to the yoga room on the second floor.
We roll out our mats, and I lay mine next to Jonathan’s. Not too close…but not too far either. We chat for a bit as other students filter into the room. When Soozie enters we all quiet down.
“So this month I want to focus on the Bhagavad Gita. Specifically, on this idea of dharma—or purpose. The Gita is a story of the warrior Arjuna, and his spiritual guide, Krishna. The story is about this battle, and as Arjuna goes to the battlefield, he looks across at who are supposed to be his enemies and sees his friends, family members, and people he respects. He lays down his bow and says he’d rather die than kill these people. Krishna then explains that it is Arjuna’s duty, his dharma, as a warrior to fight.”
She pauses and takes a breath. I always love Soozie’s classes because she brings these metaphors into them.
“So what do you all feel is your dharma?” She asks the class.
I always want to jump up and answer the questions Soozie asks. Usually I have to restrain myself so that I don’t feel like I am dominating the class. But this time, I really don’t have an immediate answer.
Jonathan answers, “This, the practice, the yoga.”
Hmm, that sounds like a nice answer. Given what is going on in my life currently, I answer as honestly as possible, “Being myself and helping others with that too.”
Soozie smiles and nods her head to both of us, acknowledging our answers. And with that we begin the breathing that will lead us through the asanas, or postures.
Depending on the class and how I am feeling, sometimes I just get right into the zone and focus on my yoga. But today, my mind is a bit distracted and curious about the guy next to me.
During a vinyassa, I surreptitiously peek over and see that he has jumped lightly into a full handstand. His gaze is focused and forward, his arms strong, his shirt is off. All very distracting and nice things to look at.
But I can’t help but stare at the black boxy ankle bracelet on his left leg…
This is the point in the Hero’s Journey where the hero experiences a love that has the power and significance of the all-powerful, all-encompassing, unconditional love.
Sometimes this love is in the form of a God or Goddess, sometimes it is in a romantic partner or a deeply trusted friend.
The stage of falling in love is like none other. It’s vulnerable, it’s inspiring, it’s confusing, it’s mesmerizing.
What if meeting this love isn’t so much about someone else though?
What if this is about falling in love… with yourself?
When we love ourselves, we are able to give so much more of ourselves to the world. When we berate or neglect or criticize ourselves, we cut ourselves off from our own source of love, our own source of power.
The Hero’s Journey is about finding our way back to ourselves.
It’s about returning to love.