Sometimes, life will happen in such a way that leaves me feeling angry, alone, confused, sad, martyred, blah, blah, blah.
Essentially, the result is a serious lack of clarity and understanding about myself and/or what’s happening. Oftentimes, yoga organizes these life-happenings, (as well as my confused and often scattered thoughts and emotions about said happenings,) into my consciousness in a way that is a bit more contained, manageable and—gulp—impossible to ignore or avoid.
Every so often, after yoga has been wonderful enough to collect my existential and emotional debris and present it to me in quite the in-your-face manner, meditation shines an expansive, bright, piercing, yet soft light on everything, helping me to see it all as it really is.
If you’ve ever meditated or done yoga before, you might be familiar with post-meditation and post-yoga flashes of insight where your ego’s defenses sort of take a nap, and certain things that may have been uncertain or unknown to you about your personal experience suddenly become clear as day.
Crystal clear. Seriously, like magic. Or medicine.
In fact, yoga and meditation are absolutely medicinal for my spiritual, mental, and physical health. This personal truth became especially apparent after an exhausting series of events prevented me from taking my medicine for a while. Once I was finally able to apply the soothing salve to my raw and burning mental, physical and emotional wounds, I experienced its effects much quicker, and with greater force.
The medicine of yoga and meditation helped put me back into relationship with myself, which also deepened and expanded my awareness, allowing me to really see the quality of my relationship with life, and where we stood with each other in the moment.
The following insights—which revealed themselves to me in my post-yoga and meditation moments of sanity and clarity—are the result of that deepened and expanded awareness.
Applying them (or, at the very least, keeping them in mind, especially during difficult times) has been the difference between life happening to me, and life happening with me: the difference between existing and living.
1) Ultimately, it’s always about you.
But not in a narcissistic way. It’s about you, by which I mean you have to make it more about others and less about yourself. Take that, ego!
2) Stop giving away your power.
The first step: Take Complete Responsibility For Everything That Is Yours—dark, light, and especially all the rarely seen or explored in-between colors. There comes a point in our lives where we really know (whether or not we fully admit it to ourselves) that we are totally responsible for how we feel and show up in this world. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but one of its greatest side effects is freedom—freedom for you and freedom for the people with whom you are in relationship.
3) Receive and savor the teachings that are being offered to you.
I used to despise veggies as a kid. So when they showed up on my plate, I either ate around them, going directly to what was yummy to my tummy, or hid them in a napkin to later dispose of them when my grandmother wasn’t looking. I know I’m not the only one who did these things, or something similar, and I think many of us carry this type of tendency into other aspects of our lives. We don’t have a problem taking in things like a new baby, getting married, raises and promotions, and events happening in our favor. Usually.
But what do we do when the veggies of life, especially the stinky ones like Brussels sprouts (which I now love, by the way) show up on our plates? Most of us tend to eat around them, avoid them, or try to give them back or throw them away.
The funny thing, however, is that these things that we avoid—typically pain, challenge, fear, disappointment, perceived failure—always promote nutritive wisdom in our beings once fully digested and metabolized. Sure, some will give you gas or diarrhea, some will make you bloated, constipated, and embarrassingly flatulent, and you might even be near deathly allergic to still a few more, but going through all of that—receiving, savoring, and digesting all of it—will help you figure out what to put on or leave off of your plate at The Great Buffet of Life.
So dig in and get messy. Bon Appétit!
4) Move in. Move out. Move on.
Think about the process of moving into a new home. Do you go in and just live your entire life in one room or corner of your living space? Of course not! You make the space your own. You decorate it and add personal touches that let you and all your guests know that it’s your space. Moving into yourself is no different.
Many of us spend so much of our life crouching in a corner of experience in the smallest room within the mansion of our existence. There’s a great amount of space inside of our being that asks us to embody it. And that is what moving in is: Embodying all of yourself.
So move in! For me, the best way to achieve this is by practicing yoga or some form of conscious movement. Find out what works best for you in helping you to take up all the available space inside yourself, and commit to doing it often. Your practice should help you come face-to-face with who you truly are, and accept and embrace all of what you find.
It’s a process—a lifelong one, at that. But it helps us discover what’s kept us trapped in ways of being that have never really felt “right” or aligned with who and how we know in our hearts we’re fully capable of being.
We move in not to find people or circumstances to blame for the way that we are, but to discover the personal power that will allow us to liberate ourselves from being stuck in the psychic and emotional traumas and residue of whatever happened as a result of experiencing those people or circumstances. Friends, therapists, ministers, gurus, and the like are all highly encouraged and helpful aids in this endeavor, but they can only help us to a certain point.
We are ultimately the only ones who are responsible for emancipating ourselves from what keeps us from having freedom and joy. We are the only ones with that just right know-how and power to reclaim what is our birthright.
As we accomplish this, we can move back out into the world, navigating the winding roads of life in a more integrated and skillful way. We know and embody our totality and understand that only we hold the power to give any part (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) of ourselves away. With that wisdom, and from that place of deep knowing, we move on from the people, places, patterns, beliefs, and ideas that only reinforced the wounded, angry, fearful, and restricted parts of ourselves. From that embodied place of healing and integrity, we move on to people, places, patterns, beliefs, and ideas that fully validate and support all of who we are, as we can no longer receive, tolerate or make sense of anything less.
5) It’s all love, plain and simple.
Love is everywhere, and if you look less and see more, you’ll notice it in everything, especially your own heart.
All these complicated things we’ve made up about experiencing love are just that: complicated and fabricated. It’s served us well, as we have entertained ourselves for centuries with great forms of art that have come from this collective self-deception, but the truth is, it ain’t that serious.
Love is not something that we have to work or search for. Love is not something we do, it’s something we are. Once you allow and receive the love that you are, you can allow and receive the love in everything and everyone around you. To allow is to surrender. To accept is to receive. Neither is attainable by doing. Both are experienced through being. Stop making it so difficult. Let go and let love. Period.
Now, I understand that personal experiences are, well, personal, and that the above might not translate well into another person’s experience. That’s fine. But with the potential to facilitate such a profound and transformative shift in my being not just alive, but alive in and with love, I simply had to share. So, whether you take all, some, or none of what my insights offer, please know that the most important thing to me is that you at least receive my intention to offer to you what has been healing for me.
Be Happy. Be Well. Be Free. Be Love.
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Assistant Ed: Jade Belzberg/Ed: Bryonie Wise