August 8, 2013

Awake, Self-Loved & Making the Difference I’m Here to Make. ~ Suzanne Grenager


It’s time to wake up, fall in love with ourselves and make the difference we’re born and dying to make.

If my book Bare Naked at the Reality Dance had a subtitle, that would be it. It’s my mantra.

If I can do it, so by God can you. I often like to say that too in the same breath. The obvious implication of that first mouthful of mine is that I am awake and self-loving enough to be doing what I am here to do.

But when I add if I can do it, so can you, aren’t I also suggesting that if we hang together—you, my much appreciated readers, and I—I might be able to inspire you to wake up, fall in love with yourself and make the difference you are born and dying to make?

That’s a big, bold promise. So maybe it’s time to take a look at what’s behind what I say I’m up to, as well as whether I’m up to inspiring you. For my sake as well as for yours.

Am I Awake?

Yes. If awake means aware—conscious of myself and what’s going on inside and around me—I am awake.

My awareness is relative of course. But as part of our so-called “spiritual growth,” it’s important to take stock of and acknowledge our progress, along with our supposed short-comings. Otherwise we might give up or not live as big as we are.

As great a Yogi as my beloved Bapuji (a.k.a. Swami Kripalvanand) backs me up here. “You must constantly check the storehouse of your knowledge, your actions and your love,” said he. And own it all is what he went on to suggest—in Gujarati and, okay, not in those exact words.

So I will say, as a matter of fact, that I woke up and started falling in love with myself 38 years ago on Valentine’s Day. I was sitting bed-side for the horrific cancer death of my best friend Lucy, who was 31.

I have been pretty darned awake and committed to awareness of what’s fundamental, real and true ever since. (Nothing like untimely death to brings us more fully to life—and in my case, to yoga.)

Do I sometimes hide from being awake? Sure I do.

Although I like to think I’m moderate, I drink wine and the odd dark & stormy (a yummy rum and ginger beer drink popular in Nova Scotia, where I work and play come summer). I eat meat and other heavy foods I can feel dull my senses. And occasionally I read cheesy gossip, watch less-than-stellar TV shows and…well, a pure Yogini I am not!

All I can say about that is this: I know what I am doing and thank God sometimes for fermented grapes, lamb chops and even People Magazine at the hair salon! I am awake but (despite my book title) perhaps not ready to be bare-naked aware 24/7. And I’m getting okay with that.

Am I Falling in Love With Myself?

That brings me right to my next question—how I’m doing with the whole falling in love with ourselves thing. Hmmm.

It occurs to me that publicly thanking God for wine, meat and pulp weeklies, as I just did, is a sure sign that I accept my humanity and must love myself way more than I used to.

There was a time when I’d have been ashamed to admit to almost anyone—let alone the vast virtual world of elephant journal, for God’s sake!my affinity for anything in the imbibement, ingestion or entertainment arenas that was not properly “spiritual.”

As a yoga teacher and—way worse, a decade-long regional leader of other Kripalu Yoga support group leaders, wasn’t I supposed to eschew most things worldly, eat vegan—or at least vegetarian—and always prefer yoga and meditation to TV and magazines? Of course I was.

I don’t believe that any more but I sure thought so then. I imagined my (as I saw it) admirably ascetic friends and students would be horrified and I perhaps vilified if only they knew. So off I went on a multi-year mini-guilt trip. Not very self-loving.

In the 20 years since, I seem to have learned that being kind to and trusting of myself about my daily choices—which may but may not include yoga, meditation, etc—beats beating myself up.

Like being awake, the concept of self-love, let alone the question of what’s spiritual, is relative.

Am I Doing What I am Here to Do?

But now to the final and meatiest issue; whether or not I’m awake and self-loving enough to be doing what I am here to do, whatever that may be.

Well, am I?

My fabulous husband Trond and I had a chat about that, and here’s the gist:

Should the issue of being here be all about service to others in my role as sister seeker, awakener and scribe, all of which assume doing stuff for others as well as myself? That’s how I was moved to describe myself on my website 18 months ago.

But is helping others what I’m really meant to do?

Or, could it be my sole mission as a seeker—and perhaps yours as well, to become self-realized in this lifetime, leaving the rest (including the fate of others) and what we call God, to chance and trust?

I see I am back to a favorite question of mine, about the roles of will versus surrender and action versus inaction, with no clear answer—yet! Again I look to Bapuji.

Early on in his great life, Bapuji was a public speaker and wrote books as well. But before long Kripalu’s “grandfather guru,” source of my inspiration and the very words in my book, withdrew from the world and made Self-realization his one-pointed focus.

He may have been a brother seeker but, for the last several decades of his too short life, any awakening and scribing he did that benefited others seemed to be the fortunate byproducts of his turning himself exclusively toward God—not us (until his last four years, in America).

And yet, while it may not have been his primary—or even secondary—intention, I know like I know my name that Bapuji offered the greatest possible service to humanity, myself most definitely included. His love and light were a beacon like no other I have known or heard of.

So maybe it’s time to stop fretting and trying to figure how to make an impact with the actions we take, and instead consider the unthinkable: daring to dive all the way into ourselves, whatever that might turn out to take or look like.

Maybe that’s the only contribution we are born and dying to make. And maybe, just maybe, our self-realization (or best efforts in that direction) would be way more than enough, for us and for the world we want to serve.

I don’t know—or as a wise teacher of mine once said about statements like that, maybe I don’t want to know.

It’s probably because I don’t want to give up mucking about in the world—my ego (and possibly my dear old heart) not quite ready to pack it in for God.

But please dear readers, jump in, pipe up and address this one any way you like for us:

To make our significant difference, do you think the spotlight should be on ourselves, on others, or both? From your wise perspective, what’s the deal?

Your experience here could be hugely helpful to me and other elephant readers seeking to make the difference we’re dying to make. Thank you and I can’t wait to hear what you say!

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Assistant Ed: Gabriela Magana/Ed: Sara Crolick

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Suzanne Selby Grenager