Alone and upside-down on my tattered-towel-makeshift yoga mat, I gazed at the huge, gorgeous tree with its sprawling branches reaching out in every direction. Tucked underneath a small thatch-covered area about the size of a sedan, and perched high above ground level, I practiced poses plucked randomly from Bikram, Vinyasa, and YMCA-style yoga. During my daily hour-long routine, it was easy to work up a sweat since I was only 9 degrees from the heat-scorched equator.
After the third day of practicing yoga, local “participants” joined. Even though it was morning when I exercised, to avoid the intense afternoon heat, cute little brown bats lit underneath the thatched roof and hung out with me while I sweated, inverted, and sorted out the meaning of life. Although I grew up on a farm, I hadn’t been this close to bats before. Their little conversational chirps sounded like a bird with a sinus infection, stuffy little clicks and squeaks. Over time, there were 7 bats that faithfully joined me each day. I named them after the dwarfs in the old Disney film Snow White: Dopey, Doc, Bashful, Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, and Sneezy. (Truth be told, I had trouble telling the quiet ones, Bashful, Sleepy, and Doc, apart during their daily visits.)
At the time, my life itself had become upside-down over the years of stress and pressures from events that were outside of my control. While there, I learned an important lesson from those 7 funny little bats that can help anyone feeling off-balance and burned out during our days of political unrest, pandemic uncertainty, and social injustice.
Bats hang upside down because they can’t take off from the ground. They have to literally let go to soar. Otherwise, they’ll never reach the heights where they were designed to fly, where their nourishment lives, and where they can escape the pressures of predators. They are also very sensitive, as they constantly gather the signs around them. Contrary to a common myth, bats are not blind and can see just fine. They use echolocation, or high-frequency sonar sounds, to obtain extra-sensory information to enhance what they see with their eyes. It adds a layer of accuracy and speed as they navigate in the dark.
It was the same type of way-finding I was learning through my daily yoga practice—to expand my sensitivities beyond what I could see with my eyes. And to let go, like the bats, to feel the freedom of flight and to find the nourishment that could recharge my life again. The bats helped me redefine “success” completely. The most powerful gifts of insight came when I was allowing, observing, and listening instead of thinking, solving, and controlling.
So, there you have it, being upside-down isn’t so bad. It’s certainly not uncommon. Stop trying to hang onto perfection, control, and have ALL the solutions. Just let go every now and then. Who knows? Maybe it will allow you to enjoy soaring to new heights, too!
(This blog is part of the Trust Your Animal Instincts Series by Tabitha A. Scott, CEM, CDSM, CHTP. Read more about the bats and other spirit animals who taught me life changing lessons in my Nautilus Award winning book, Trust Your Animal Instincts: Recharge Your Life & Ignite Your Power.)