The past six months have been a whirlwind of events and changes in my life, both personal and professional. I started teaching yoga and pursued to complete all the courses I have dreamed of doing - mat Pilates, personal training specialist, yin yoga, and meditation teacher training. This month, I decided to take a pause from teaching yoga. In my moment of stillness, I came to this profound realization that much of this journey has been about the search and longing for enoughness, connection, belonging, and worthiness. Silence has afforded me a space to consider my activities and intentions. I say activities because I am just learning that activity is totally different from action. Activity is what keeps us busy, like the hamster spinning its wheel... it is full of longing, yearning, wanting, and grasping.
When I began my journey as a yoga instructor, I came with the deepest intention of sharing the magnificence of healing through movement and stillness. This is what I have gained from my own personal practice. But as soon I started teaching, I aspired to become as good as the best yoga teachers I have ever met. I strived to design sequences that are creative and inspiring. I strived to find the most profound things to say during savasana. I strived to sub as many classes as I can so I can feel like I am actually teaching. The key word here is STRIVE. Life does not require us to strive. What life requires from us is a response to action. Striving is activity, responding is action. It is about being so present that our doing arises from stillness - it is inspired by the present moment. This action comes from our higher intelligence, it is an invitation to engage with life itself. When we strive and ambition ourselves so much that we fill up our schedules with all the MUST do's... (because if we don't, we might just never get to where we want to be), we sort of pave the way to escape from the very experience of life. We can never quite get there because once we achieve one thing, there will always be next thing to do in order to get to the destination.
We are now in Scorpio season. This time of the year invites us to look inward. The seasons are changing and we are invited to open our eyes to see our own patterns and activities. To approach, with curiosity, the things that drive us, the things that trigger us. And as we sit quietly to see the activities of our minds, we bring to awareness our vulnerabilities, our tendencies for shame, guilt, and fear. As my meditation teacher once said, opening up to our inner landscape allows us to establish a loving and compassionate relationship with ourselves. As it begins to get cold, we are being invited to go within, and find the warmth that is already there. How can we settle and find a sense of grounding if we are so preoccupied with activities? Can we pause for a moment to consider if we are doing things as a means to get ahead, or are we doing things to respond to life's calling in the present moment?
I like writing about uplifting, less vulnerable things because it is easier. But the first few weeks of 2019 has taken me away from the less vulnerable places and brought me to the edges that I talk about so frequently - to those edges that put me face to face with some really touchy and vulnerable parts of me. So I say, hey, let's do this. For almost a year now, it has been within my monthly practice to set intentions for the kind of energy I want to receive and give out. I have always included the word resilience in my list of intentions. Looking back, I see all my experiences as really bringing me to this wonderful place of strength and resilience. It felt shitty but in the end, the universe gave me what I asked for. So here I am beginning the second month of 2019 with some great lessons life has brought me. Today, it is about self-worth.
Growing up as a child, I have learned so easily that my worth as a person comes from the validation of those around me. To truly be valued and loved means I have to be for others what they want me to be. And anything shy of that means I am not good enough, it means I have to go back to the drawing board and try a little bit harder. As a young woman, I continued with this pattern and it showed up in the work that I do, in every decision I made, and painfully so, in all my relationships. Now that I am well into my adulthood, I realized how much I was still imprisoned by my past conditioning. Life has opened my eyes to the reality that although contexts have changed, the same grain of need for outward validation is very much alive within me. I had to stop for a moment and question this belief that keeps me captive to my old patterns. Stopping meant to drop into complete stillness and silence. What emerged for me is the realization that I don't really need to wait for others to choose me - that I can give myself the permission to choose me. I learned that by putting myself at the mercy of others' acceptance and validation, I am turning away from who I truly am. It sounds quite simplistic but the truth is, it is not as easy as it sounds. Not for me, not for some who resonate with this story. Although it sucked to feel rejected, it is through the rejection that I heard the loud cry for me to drop inward - in every essence of the word. It allowed me to connect with the truth of who I am. And who I am is not defined by what others do or not do, rather, who I am is what lies right at the core of my being, the one who embraces the beauty and vitality of this life... the eyes that see the magic of everyone and everything around her.
There is so much power in giving ourselves the permission to embrace our wholeness just as we are. Once we begin to choose ourselves, we will find that the right people come into our lives. And guess what?, the richness of our experiences will be quite exhilarating.
Most of the time, we greet the new year with a set of goals or intentions to communicate what we want from life. I would like to offer a slightly different way of framing our intentions. What if instead of answering the question, "What do I want from life?", we turn inward and ask, "What does life want from me?" When we take a moment to reflect on this, we may glean from our past experiences and find that this question takes on quite a different trajectory. I believe that life offers us the space to cultivate aspects of ourselves that empower us to live each moment in the best possible way we can. It is in this space where we find our inner strength, fortitude, and resilience. These qualities allow us to face the uncertainty and change that is ever present in our lives - regardless of actions we take to try to control the outcomes. Life gives us exactly what we need at any given moment. This question also allows us to call back all parts of ourselves that have fragmented away - inviting us to welcome even the pieces that we have buried deep down. Embracing the facets that make up our wholeness requires courage and openness. Calling back pieces of us that represent different sides of our being means welcoming the part that is happy, but also the part that is sad. The part of us that is not done grieving, the part of us that is optimistic and hopeful, the part of us that is stoic, ambitious, brave... Perhaps this is what life wants from us - to live out what our potential has to offer. We are being summoned to look at what is already within us, to take the veil off our eyes so we can honour who we truly are. When we ask the question, "What does life want from me?" we are, in effect, communicating our wholeness. When we create space for all parts of us to come together, we get to enjoy each moment knowing that life happens for us. We see beyond the surface and open up to a world of possibilities.
Last August I completed my yoga teacher training. What is interesting about it is that my learning went over and beyond the asanas, or yoga postures. The seeds of the yogic philosophy infiltrated every part of me. I came out of this program a different person than when I first went into it. The most profound learning I embodied is the concept of duality and the understanding of the oneness of all beings - that we are all connected. Duality represents the opposites of all that we experience such as joy and sorrow, anger and happiness, love and hate. It is like light and darkness, one cannot exist without the other. I have been grappling with this idea for a long time. The experiences I had over the past months brought about a deepening of my understanding of self.
Braving the process allowed me to open up to new and brighter things. At the same time, it pushed me to the edges so I can lean into my deeper calling. As I move along this path, I am always reminded that I am supported. I feel this sense of knowing through various experiences and through people I meet along the way. Every relationship that came into my life in the past year has enriched my life in such a meaningful way... be it the casual acquaintances at work, or the yoga teachers that inspire me, or the few ladies that I get the honour of sharing my innermost self with... they all bring magic to my life.
The month of August marks my one year journey to self-discovery and self-love. I learned that when we hold space for our grief to come to the surface, we allow for the expansion of our capacity to love. Grief, I believe, is the opposite of love. It is when we lose what we love that we experience grief. My journey has been about mustering the courage to come face to face with the pain, and with one step at time, meet the edges of the sorrow until it softens. What comes out of it is the ability to forgive and love myself. In this wonderful path, I also learned to be self-compassionate. At first, it seemed like I was doing this just for my own benefit. However, I was wrong. You see, our capacity for self-love and compassion cannot stay within us. For it to be truly lived, it has to be shared with others. This experience allowed me to brave vulnerability. It provided me with the capacity to see the light in others, to extend the same love and compassion I have for myself and wish others the same. The truth is, we can only have what we can sincerely wish others to have - even the ones whom we think have caused us pain. This is where the door to freedom opens. This is where we meet our true selves.
"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear" - this familiar quote can't be more real to me. Everything in life is here to teach us something about ourselves. Our experiences, if we allow it, will bring us closer to our true nature. It took me a while to muster the courage to face the edges of my intense emotions. The triggers that set me off became the source of the lessons that life has to offer. The light shone on the darkness so the shadows can meet my gaze. When my eyes opened to see the agony that lies around the edges of my soul, I wasn't sure what to do. It can be a frightening experience, where feelings can easily take over. But when I allowed myself to breathe through it and consider the impermanence of life, I realized that these feelings are just as impermanent as everything else. They appear like waves in the ocean, coming and going. They are like the clouds in the sky that occasionally cover the sun. Healing is right the edge of our painful emotion. When we choose the courage to find comfort in the unease, we eventually expand and develop the resilience that can take us through the most difficult moments in life.
As I embrace the new beginning that 2018 promises, I packed up the past year and brought all the lessons I have learned from my experiences. I choose to be free from the heaviness of yesterday's pain and grief. I gladly welcome the process of healing and coming to the wholeness of my being. I let go of the armour I clothed myself with in order to avoid the edges that put me at risk. I move towards vulnerability and courage. With all my heart, I willingly open up to my highest truth. At the end of 2017, I have been greatly inspired by words of Charlie Chaplin. One of the greatest lessons I have learned is the importance of self-love. I now understand, more than ever, that the quality of all my relationships is based on the quality of relationship that I have with myself. So for my first post this year, I would like to offer these thoughts to you. May you find inspiration in it. Wishing you all a year filled with love and joy.
As I began to love myself - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
When a rug gets pulled from under us, things fall apart. This is when we see the entirety of ourselves - in a million pieces. During these moments, we have a choice - we can either move closer to or move away from ourselves. I chose to expand the edges and meet myself, as if for the first time. It is an arduous process, yet a truly rewarding one. This is a time when we begin to ask all the questions that pertain to our life's purpose and realize that the answer can't be found in an instant. The answer lies in our moment-to-moment experience. Pain can have such a transformative power - the choice is always ours. The journey begins when we come back to ourselves.
We are sent to earth for love, with love, and by love. When life throws a curveball, we have a tendency to turn to stress, frustration, and sometimes depression. this can take our love away from us, and if we let it, then we actually become prisoners of ourselves. Love is to love yourself first, and then the world.
Maudy Fowler & Gail Hunt
Angel Whispers, 2013
After a heartbreak, we tend to close off and build a wall of protection so we don't have to go through the pain ever again. Overtime, the walls create a fortified barrier that inhibits the possibility of being able to truly connect with others. The barrier becomes so rough and rugged that it blocks us even from the truth of who we are. When we wake up and realize that we have filled our minds and hearts of such great sorrow and despair, this unbearable feeling of loneliness turns into shackles that cage us in... disallowing the light to come through, even the light that is already inherent in all of us. It's really difficult to see this when our eyes are veiled with pain and suffering. But once, just once, when we dare to let some light peer through the crevices of hearts, it will slowly shine on the dark areas until all darkness disappears.
One of the most beautiful things in the process of healing is our reawakening to our truth - that we are spiritual beings, infinitely loved and supported. We can receive the light when we dare to trust. It is an intentional and deliberate effort to believe in our wholeness and worthiness. We need to trust that we are supported, loved, and protected before we can receive the true blessings of life and find ourselves home again.
I once came across a relevant definition of a successful relationship. It is described not by the way it looks or how it turns out, or even if it lasts. A successful relationship is all about what you used it for. So if you are growing and becoming a better person, in that, you have become more loving and forgiving as a result of having been with or having known someone, then that is considered a successful relationship. When we see our life experiences in this way, it is quite evident that the people we cross paths with did not appear in our lives merely by coincidence. The relationships we form and situations we find ourselves in are by and large manifestations of our deepest desires to grow and expand. Sometimes, we find ourselves totally flabbergasted by the circumstances that we awaken to at the end of the paths we choose to follow in life. If we take a moment to pause and create a distance from our present experiences, we will find that there is so much to see when we slow down. The deliberate effort goes to examining our thoughts and creating space for life to just be the way that it is.
I am a lover of life, beauty, and vitality. I believe that we are creators of our own reality. It is important that our thoughts, feelings, speech, and actions reflect our true, essential nature. Through stillness, we can find our true selves. My desire is to share the journey into myself in the hopes of creating a space that connects with others who find themselves on the same path. I hope that you will find inspiration in this place.