September 27, 2013

My Restless Soul: Learning How to Be. ~ Kristen Stuart

From a very young age, I have felt as though I’ve been on a journey to be strength.

This focused pursuit was one I understood as having no fear, keeping a stiff upper lip, always saying Yes and leaping, often before I had looked.

There is no doubt that this journey took me on some amazing and wild adventures around the globe where I continually pushed my edges to overcome my fears. Whether it was my first travels abroad at age 21, flying solo to the other side of the world for a year, jumping out of an airplane or off a bridge 300ft above a river in NZ, summiting an 18,000ft mountain in the Himalayas or hanging off a frozen waterfall in my Rockies backyard, I had a restless spirit thirsting for more, to be more.

For in the more, I thought I would eventually become enough.

Yet what I have now come to know as strength is in our vulnerability. And this learning is something that has only come to me in the last year. You see, in January of 2012 I put forth my greatest act of courage and strength up to this point in my life in opening my own yoga studio.

It had been a dream for many years and I was terrified, but I finally took that leap… of faith.

And an amazing thing happened: my greatest fear became what I thought was my reality. Within six months, I had worked myself into the ground—so much so, that I completely burned myself out and my precious studio had to close because I was now in a serious health crisis; yet, despite the realities of my physical and mental state, all I saw was that I had failed.

In my eyes, I had let down my community—I had lost my business and my dream had come to a crashing end. In my mind, all I could think was what is wrong with me, I should know better, I should be stronger, how could I let this happen, and these false tapes continued to play over and over as I slipped deeper and deeper until eventually I hit bottom.

I received so many gifts of learning from this experience, but what stands out most is that strength, is in its truest form, is a powerful expression of vulnerability.

This past year I undertook the biggest climb of my life. I’ve been working to soften my rough edges; to place myself in a fully-receptive state and give myself permission to make mistakes, to feel what I feel in its fear, its anger, sadness, joy, grief or ecstasy; I’m learning to ask for help when I need it and to also be able to receive it. The act of being vulnerable has broken down walls and armor that I’ve spent a lifetime building, it has cleared debris and given me the permission to simply be.

And what I now see, is that our courage is in our beauty, and our beauty is in our strength; and all our strength is, is the willingness to simply show up—messy, hurting, soaring, grieving, being our perfectly imperfect human-selves.

So the next time you are in a warrior pose, feel the strength emanate through your body as your muscles engage and your skin hugs to your bones, and then guide your awareness into your heart, soften, breathe space into space and watch your warrior-self grow in a way you could never imagined was possible.

I’ll see you on the mat.

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Assist. Ed: Jade Belzberg/Ed: Sara Crolick

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Kristen Stuart