I spent such a big part of my life focusing on my intellect.
Early on, I created a “smart woman” identity for myself, which I thought would keep me safe and valued in the society I lived in. I studied math and physics, I became an engineer, and I worked in the high pace medical device world.
I thought knowledge was my main inner power and my intellect was my only reliable guide. I could clearly use it to predict a future issue, analyze a situation, figure out what to do next, where to go when stuck, and how to manage situations; I used science to explain everything about the world we live in.
At that time I did not allow much space for the metaphysical, mystical, or spiritual. My belief was that I could live a happy life without all that stuff.
I can’t say I was happy. From the outside, it seemed that I “should” have been. Nothing was outstandingly wrong. A career in the med-tech industry, a relationship, friends, a roof on my head…yet I was suffering. Most days. And when I mean suffering, I mean suffering like we humans are good at. Creating suffering for a lot of things: I was unhappy in a relationship but unhappy alone, suffering in my friendships but suffering without friends, suffering with family and suffering without them…
I tried to rationalize my way out of unhappiness. I would tell myself that my life was not as bad as a lot of others more unfortunate beings, or I would plan for a future that I thought would eventually bring the desired happiness: a different relationship, a different job, a different place to live. I changed boyfriend, changed job, changed city, but it seemed that this was not working well in my pursuit of happiness.
When I discovered the practice of yoga about 16 years ago, I got to experience something that took me out of my head and brought a lot of peace within. Through my yoga practice, I got to experience reconnection, mindfulness, and presence—a different type of intelligence. As my body moved mindfully with my breath, as my rougher, tighter physical edges started to expand, it seemed as if my mental and emotional edges were expanding and softening too.
I regained that deep connection with my body, my energy, a different kind of intelligence than the mind holds, a different type of strength and knowledge, a different type of inner power. Yoga quickly became part of my life, practicing weekly. And I went on studying yoga and eventually after 14 years of practice became a teacher.
I remember teaching my first class in a studio. After the class, I was filled with an overwhelmingly energizing and warm energy.
I remembered thinking: Is work actually supposed to feel this way, energizing and joyful?
I had been used to feeling drained—so drained after a day of work in my previous work field. This post-teaching energizing feeling never left me. I still get the same amazing feeling after teaching a class. Today when I hear my husband telling the kids when I leave home to teach, “Mom is going to work,” I keep thinking, “I am not working, I am teaching yoga…”
With the years of practice and teaching, yoga brought so much more than just a certain momentary peace. I began to reconnect with my natural self—my true nature. I began to truly connect with my body, on physical, emotional, and energetical level. I also began to be able to connect with something bigger than me. I started to connect with nature, able to feel the energy of trees, and appreciate the divine perfection of it all. I started to see, feel, and sense the bigger picture. We are living on planet Earth that is turning around itself and rotating around the sun, like other planets in our solar system, which is part of other solar systems within an infinite universe. An infinite mystery, an awesome divine intelligence, and ever present energy surrounding us and within us.
And this was not an intellectual knowing because I knew all this on an intellectual plane before.
It was an embodiment of that knowing. A true knowing. An inner knowing.
This changed my experience of life. This enabled me to be truly present.
Presence to me is a state of awareness of myself (physically, energetically, emotionally, mentally) and awareness of the world around me within the awareness of the bigger picture. When you truly get to embody that knowing, the external world tends to not have such a grasp on your inner one. What people say or not say, the situations you are in, what your job is or is not do not seem to leave a big imprint or emotional turmoil anymore. It is not that emotions don’t arise from time to time (they do), but I recognize them and allow their sensation in my body to flow; I give them time to express and release.
That embodiment brought to me a sense of awe for life, a sense of joy that carries from moments to moments in my life. Awe for the sun rising (I know it does not literally rises), the oak tree in front of the house with its magnificent roots, the tiny little ant going on its business of carrying food back to the nest, your kids coming to school with an attitude, the warmth of their big hug, life…
To me, the beginning of the end of suffering in our current human incarnation (suffering that is created in our mind) lies in the awareness of our true nature, which is a being made of physical matter and non-physical energy, which is part of something bigger, literally awesome and infinite.
Today, I haven’t forgotten my rational intellectual side. I cherish it when I need it. I find some type of pleasure with it when I solve a challenging problem at work or in life, when I start to master a mind game, when I manage to debate and argue my point of view in a discussion or debate; however, I don’t believe my intellectual side will ever be the source of my contentment or happiness in life. It can’t be. It is not meant to be.
I now have access to a side of my consciousness beyond the rational that has enabled me to find peace and joy that my intellectual side could not bring me.
Because being able to be present, to feel all emotions of life, to experience small and big life moments mindfully and with gratitude is what brings a sense of being alive—a sense of contentment and happiness.
With love and gratitude to life.