Untangling myself from my previous life
Date: March 19, 2009 12:37PM
I have been reading some other people's accounts and I thought I would go ahead and share about what I am currently going through. I am grateful to have found this board.
For the last 5-6 years I was in a yoga group, small around a dozen people, working very intensively with a yogi in "healing unto God". When I first came to the group I was very sick and had almost died. The group helped me heal from this place and was in fact correct that my self-destructive mind had gotten my body into that place. I did some very intensive work with a lot of hatha yoga and personal "therapy" and life skills and communication skills and I did progress a lot from it. There was a great deal of support; the yoga group is a very tight-knit "family".
Over the years certain things wouldn't seem right to me but I set them aside because I was trying to lessen my mind's grip on my life. These certain things fit into some of the stereotypical signs of a cult, like the leader being very authoritarian and controlling (although he expressed his desire that we be self-empowered and free), questioning/dissent strongly discouraged (dismissed as the ego-mind trying to cause problems), former members who left were always somehow wrong (their egos took control, etc.), etc. etc. I could go on.
But the real point for me wasn't so much of being victim to the group's cult behaviors as much as my own behaviors, for example totally depending on the group leader's approval to feel good about myself and when he would get angry and withdraw then doing whatever necessary to get him back in my life. Or the feeling that to find connection to God I needed guidance from the leader otherwise I would be lost.
I don't think the leader is intentionally evil or anything, I do think he has good intentions but has fallen into some predictable patterns of behavior being in the position he's in. And my boyfriend, who is still working with the yogi, does seem to have a much more healthy relationship with the yogi. He was mature enough not to hand over his power and make the leader an authority but he seems able to learn from him in a balanced way. So I am not totally blaming the leader or the group but it is just the circumstances that have unfolded for me that are very painful.
Over the years I had gone through several rounds of acting in a way that the leader was displeased with or that didn't feel good to him, and him withdrawing for weeks to months at a time and then I would work my way through something and he would decide I felt good to be around again. I did this for so long it was just the way of life. Then a couple months ago in January he said he had gotten the message it was time to let me go. I had questioned something he did in a way that he decided meant I was asking to leave. And he may have been right. I had been torn for a while in feeling that what was going on wasn't quite right for me but I had too much time and energy and emotions invested in the life I had created for myself with the yoga. So I guess I "pushed up against him" and got him to kick me out. So he expelled me from the "inner circle" of really intense work that the core group was doing together and severed all communication from him and the ashram.
I am still going to some yoga classes in town (the ashram was out in the woods) and interacting with the group on a less intimate level but I still see them a couple times a week. But I am not involved nearly as much as I was. I just went to a meditation retreat with a different teacher and I am trying to reach out and interact more with new people. I didn't have a social life outside the yoga group for the past almost 6 years. I have been going through some rollercoastering where one hour or one day I will feel fine, excited that my life might take a new direction that will be good for me, and then the next hour or day I will plunge into despair that I totally ruined my life and I am totally lost without my (previous) guide who was in charge of saving me from myself! Like, without him I will inevitably self-destruct. At least that's the direction my mind takes when it is negative.
So it has been very painful and I know there are many people on this board who can relate. Feeling like I am "lost on the spiritual path" or like I really "blew it". Also I haven't been clear yet as to whether to totally break off all ties with the group (since I am still seeing them twice a week). The classes in town are pretty benign but I sometimes wonder whether I am hanging on to the past and keeping new opportunities from showing themselves clearly. I have started moving forward but maybe I am still blocked by hanging on. They do mention the guide a lot and all the activities the ashram has going on (the work days, the meetings, the practices, the meals, the outings, etc.) and this is very painful to hear about.
This feels kind of scattered but I really just wanted to start by putting something out there. Thank you so much to whoever has taken the time to read this. You are a blessing.