What does it mean to find your place?
I’ve heard so many people say this again and again, “I’m just searching for my place in the world.” As a musician, I even wrote a song on this theme. It sounds simple, but like The Alchemist’s journey goes, it often takes a while—or a lifetime of searching—to finally come back to where we started and truly understand what we were looking for.
Through the practice of yoga and meditation, I have been able to attune to my place with greater authenticity and focus, and continuous growth has sprung into all aspects of my life. So, here are five keys to finding our place:
Being present is the key to being—period. We are living in a fast paced world, which constantly tries to pull our attention away from the moment by appealing to our fears, wants, lusts and hunger for more. As our brain gets cluttered with distraction, we are easily overtaken by fantasy, which plays on our past feelings of failure and promises of a silver-lined future.
Through yoga and meditation, I have been able to actively practice giving my full attention to myself, and others, in the moment. As a musician, this completely changed the approach and overall vibe of my shows from being performance-based (I provide an experience based on my perception of your past/future fantasy thinking) to sharing-based (we are all here, in this moment, to share and co-create a powerful and real musical experience). How can this apply to our current situations and interactions with others?
We are used to seeing love portrayed in movies and magazines as a sweet fairytale, external, and often materialized expression. In that mindset, many go in search of love from a need-based perspective, looking for a mate, friend, family member, or even pet, to fill the void.
But what is love, really? I believe real love can be re-defined as total acceptance, compassion and forgiveness. This kind of love must start with us. By learning to be present through our yoga practices, we can open up the perfect space to explore a true understanding of self love. Once embodied, this form of love will naturally permeate all of our interactions and connections with light and depth. How have we been approaching and experiencing love in our lives? What new awareness can we bring into our daily heart opening practice to deepen our relationship with self-love?
From the time we learn to walk as a child, drive as a teenager, get a job as an adult and navigate life overall, we are practicing our alignment. This critical sense of balance can only be achieved by doing it with repetition—falling on our butts and getting back up, again and again.
Some may perceive this practice as failure, but the truth is that failure does not exist. It takes a willingness to experience some physical or metaphorical cuts and bruises to achieve balance and mastery in life. A perfectionist mindset will only lead to stagnation, stubbornness and total mis-alignment with our life path.
In the practice of yoga, we are continuously asked to challenge and refine our alignment on macro and micro levels. We do not do a headstand or tree pose perfectly the first time. We must be willing to lose our balance in order to ultimately find better stability and flow. Similarly, my path as a musician has required me to continuously hone my alignment.
In my early 20s, I spent time on major labels, trying to fit in to the large corporate model of the modern music business. As much as it felt good to my ego and affirmed my sense of success, this path was not in harmony with my soul. As a result, I fell from this fantasy-based pedestal many times before I started to see that my musical journey has a different nature and must be one of authenticity, love, communion and free creative expression. When my choices started to reflect this understanding, my path and music began flourishing in infinite ways that I could not have imagined!
Do you feel that you are in alignment with your life path? Which parts feel in and out of balance? How can we bring this awareness into our daily yoga or meditation practice?
4) Communion, not competition
When I first started practicing yoga—when I stood on my first stages to play music—I felt an inner sense of competition nagging at me. That childish need to do everything faster or better than everyone else constantly strummed loud, dissonant chords on my heart strings! It wasn’t that I was consciously trying to be a competitive person, but rather that I was playing out my societal programming which had taught me that I had to be the best.
Over time, through a continuous meditative practice, I began to be aware of the competitive child in me and see when she was in the room. I created a personal mantra geared toward experiencing true growth, which goes: “There is no ahead or behind when you’re walking your own line.”
Similarly, in yoga class, teachers often say, “Don’t look over to your neighbors’ mats to compare yourself to them, focus on what you are doing, and be present to that.” When we realize that life is a communion—not a competition—a greater sense of joy, growth and interconnectedness flows into everything that we do. We are all in this together, working and growing with ourselves so that we can shine and harmonize as a whole.
When we approach anything in life—yoga practice, a job, relationship or happiness—from a state of expectation, we immediately pull ourselves out of the present moment and replace our true experience with a preconceived fantasy. We must constantly try to simulate or live up to this. I used to form expectations of how a show should go and then miss out on the joy and spontaneity of the actual experience. If I played a wrong note or forgot a line, I felt utter disappointment in myself.
Through my daily meditative practice on the mat of life, honing my sense of presence, love, alignment and communion, I eventually began to leave my expectations behind and truly find my place in this world.
I know this is just the beginning. We are all on this journey—it is ongoing and requires our continuous attention and care. With a willingness to fall and get dirty, we can stand back up and look each other in the eyes with loving hearts and new, open awareness.
After all—isn’t that what life is all about?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Melissa Horton/Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photos: Chris Fry