Money Laundering: The Real Reason I Became a Yoga Teacher

It’s the first day of Yoga Teacher Training.  I’m sitting on my mat in a roomful of women I have never met before.  And the first thing our teacher does is ask us to talk a little bit about ourselves, and tell everyone what brought us here to this training.

I figured this would happen.  And I know why I’m here.  But am I going to tell everyone why I’m here?    I think I will.

The others speak, one by one.  They each seem to be at a crossroads in their life, and ready for something new.  When one of the women explains that she is mourning the very recent loss of a friend, I start to cry.  This is not at all unusual for me, as they will come to find out over the next few weeks.  I cry easily at things both happy and sad.

When it is my turn to speak, I’m already visibly upset, and there is no way I can calmly talk about why I am here; what has really brought me here.  I don’t think I can tell my story without crying even more, making everyone think that I’m an emotional wreck.   I’m not really a wreck. It’s just…this is a story that has to be told under the right conditions. These were not the right conditions.  So I said something like:  “My name is Kim and I’m peri-menopausal, so I cry at everything. I’m here to deepen my yoga practice and just see where this yoga thing leads me.”

I didn’t tell them the real reason I was there was to launder some money.

Flashback to a few months before.  I received a letter from an attorney telling me that I was going to inherit money from my dead grandparents’ estate.  Great news, right?  Inheriting money from a relative.  But this was not money I wanted. I thought this money was dirty.  When I received the check, I stuck it in a drawer and left it there.  I didn’t want anything to do with this money.

Flashback again to when I started practicing yoga.  I had heard that when you are holding certain poses all kinds of “stuff” can come up: physical stuff, emotional stuff, the stuff of breakthroughs.  And it happened for me. I’m not sure which pose I was in, or even which class, but I know stuff started to happen. I started writing about things I had never written about before.  And then I wrote what I considered a breakthrough poem: Statute of Limitations.  A poem about my dead grandfather.

Statute of Limitations

I am good at keeping secrets.
And I’m good at hiding tears.
Something that I learned to do
very early on in years.

I am good at keeping secrets.
Kept some my whole life through.
I still have not told anyone
about the things you used to do.

I am good at keeping secrets.
The good ones and the bad,
the things you told me not to tell
my mother and my dad.

I am good at keeping secrets.
It’s a thing you must have known.
You took advantage of that fact
each time we were alone.

I am good at keeping secrets.
I have never told a soul
about the way you hurt me,
the way you had control.

I am good at keeping secrets.
And although it sounds absurd,
I packed them in little boxes
and never breathed a word.

I am good at keeping secrets.
I have kept them all my days.
All throughout my adolescent
chemical-induced haze.

I am good at keeping secrets.
I buried them deep within.
When they threatened to resurface
I cut them back into my skin.

I am good at keeping secrets.
I molded them for years,
turning them into rituals,
habits, addictions, fears.

I am good at keeping secrets.
I have tied them into nooses,
hanging them over my bed,
using them as excuses.

I am good at keeping secrets.
No matter what the cost.
The people that I hurt.
The relationships I lost.

I’ve been good at keeping secrets
ever since I was a kid.
I still have not told anyone
about the things you did.

I have held on to your secrets
and you must be oh, so proud.
But everyone will know the truth
When I read these words out loud.

I have to say, I was pretty happy about that poem. I thought it was good.  It was just one more good thing that had come from a shitty situation.   All of my (adult) life I have tried to find the good in that bad.  I try to look at things in a positive way. I’m happy to be alive, and happy to have survived the rough years relatively unscathed.  With a positive spin I can say the things that happened to me as a child and adolescent made me a strong person; resilient, grateful, compassionate, and even forgiving.  I tried to see something good in all of the things that had come my way, even the most awful ones.

Then one day I realized I could take this awful feeling that the un-cashed check gave me and turn it  into a good thing too.  I could use this money to help someone else.  Maybe I could counter the negative stuff  the man who saved that money had put out into the universe with some positive stuff of my own.    One of the most positive things I knew…was yoga.

So that was it! I would use that money to take a yoga teacher training!   Yoga had done more for me than any amount of talk therapy ever would. If I could learn enough to teach it, maybe I could help one or two other people.  And I could donate the money from all of my community classes to a local Crisis Center, helping a few other people.  And If I wanted to continue, I could learn to teach therapeutic yoga for people who have been abused, raped, or suffer from PTSD, helping even a few more.  And so I cashed that check, and signed myself up!

That was why I was there, sitting on my mat, ready to learn.  Money laundering was my true intention.  But I couldn’t say it then.  I almost didn’t say it now.   All of those questions that come up: what will people think? will it make them see me differently?  But none of those things really matter, do they?

I think back to my intention. I want to keep turning it into something good. And if this post speaks to even one person, then that is one more clean dollar.



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