What a year its been. I will look back on 2016 with pride and also a big fat ‘phew!’ So much has been achieved. Nigh every room in our home has been touched by renovation, no more than our kitchen project. Its taken six months to complete but is now a space where we feel inspired to be, without thirty year old cabinets falling off hinges, or some refusing to open altogether.
2016 has also seen little old me train for six months as a yoga teacher and experience a profound journey of mind, body and soul to get there. Now I teach. I still carry a belly full of butterflies before teaching to more than about eight people, and when outside of the cocoon of our two familial studios. But now I feel more of a sense of belonging as I facilitate yoga. I no longer feel like a bit of an imposter, disguised in eclectic yoga pants.
As a result of all the outer changes to the climate of our Durham world, we’ve been in full consumer mode. Packages from Amazon arrive thick and fast, containing everything from new kitchen light shades to rugs and chairs. We have a list of material wants, and as the next weeks’ pay check rolls in so does a timely Amazon box a few days later.
About a week ago I stopped in my tracks and took a breath. I’ve become a reactionary consumer, neglecting my inner world to a degree I’ve not done before since I began my spiritual journey ten years ago. Where’s the creator me? Creating with intention? Creating words for this blog, creating circumstances and moods and reactions for myself?
This knowingness was helped along by a fellow yoga teacher friend, unbeknownst to her. I witnessed her teach. She was grounded and present and full of peace in a situation where I would have been nervous, teaching in a foreign place, to a sizeable group of unknowns. I could feel all these peace-filled qualities emanating off her as my body and breath flowed through the sequence she so deliciously served. After a warm congratulatory hug after class, I commented upon how her state of Being had been radiating out of her, positively affecting my experience on the mat.
“Self-study,” she said. Those two words roused me, like I had taken a nap, mid-life.
I’d fallen in the trap of living life on the outside. Life had become all about getting; buying new things, getting more knowledge, more experience as a teacher…getting, getting, getting from the outside and pulling it in, in an attempt to be better. My time on social media was increasing, I began watching TV shows that offered little or nothing to me, purely in the name of entertainment and drama. Even my dedication to my physical well being had waned, omitting my morning Nutribullets in favor of an extra cup of Joe.
I felt spiritually malnourished.
I realized I had to live the opposite way, from the inside out. This was not only for me but for my children, my husband, friends, students. Success, after all, isn’t about what you have, but who you are. So many of us are familiar with spirituality in theory (gratitude, meditation, our Oneness), yet do we practice?
So I’ve been doing the twenty- thing: Twenty minutes of exercise daily, twenty minutes of Self study and twenty minutes of meditation. The difference is amazing. In my enthusiasm, its been more like an hour or more of each. This dedication to my inner atmosphere has translated into a happier, more peaceful and energetic me. I don’t seem to have to bribe myself into exercising, or resisting a second glass of wine. My appetite for outside drama has dissipated, so I’m not clamoring to see if Honey G survived another week of public voting on X Factor. The want for outside stimulation seems to fall away as I foster more of a quality relationship with myself, and as I come into greater awareness of all the hidden treasures within.
Every morning I RPM (rise, pee, meditate). Just sitting for twenty minutes with only my breath seems to put me back in touch with myself. Sometimes I get impressions of answers, which I record in my meditation diary afterwards. But mostly I just observe my mind and get to know its tendencies, watching thoughts as if it were an unfamiliar object I’m toying with in my hands. This disassociation with my thoughts reminds me that I am not my thoughts, but the quiet Awareness behind them. So I don’t get so caught up in believing everything they tell me. There’s no freedom like this.
During chores I listen to Hayhouse ‘radio for your soul’ or audiobooks by the likes of Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith, or Neale Donald Walsh. Every morning I take time generate a feeling of gratitude for all I have and I ask the Universe empowering questions such as:-
How can I be more loving today?
How can I unleash the potential in me that is God-given?
How can life get even better?!
Every individual is going to have their own navigation system to get back to themselves, maybe via the vessel of religious practices, creative expression-dance, music, art perhaps- breathing techniques, quiet time reading inspiring material, or being amongst nature. It doesn’t matter what it is, only that your sense of Who You really Are is heightened and the noise of the outer world that vies for our attention at every turn is turned down.
Earlier in my spiritual journey I was asking to be a great healer, or teacher, or writer, squeezing eyes shut and affirming from a please- I- really- want space. Now I feel unattached to an outcome, simply letting Life guide me into synchronicities and handshakes and through open doors. I trust Life, without the need to wrestle it to the ground with law of attraction manipulations.
Sometimes we all need to stop, check our internal compass and see where we’ve beached. We can get swept up with the tide of life, especially at this festive time of year. I’m looking towards Christmas and thinking, how do I want to experience it? As a time of consuming and bickering with in-laws regarding the merits of mashed versus roast potatoes? Or as a time to be with family and share in gratitude for the year we’ve had. As an opportunity to amp up the giving; giving of time, of gifts, of presence.
I’m going to get knocked off balance again. And that’s OK, because I’m very human, and can resist everything but temptation:-) I’m going to inadvertently say something hurtful to someone in my over-enthusiasm to speak, I’m going to wake up again with a thick-head after too many glasses of vino, I’m probably going to act in a way which makes me cringe afterwards. But I’m also going to forgive myself for these things. And I’m going to get back up and never give up on Me. The best gift you can ever give anyone you hold dear is You, unwrapped from all the distractions of life, all the false identities and layers of resistance we carry.
Why? Because, my friend, in the cheesiest but truest of blog-endings, You are bloody marvelous, with capabilities and potential that you cannot even imagine. Yes, despite whatever you think you’ve been, done or said. And that, as Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith would say, is what I know for sure.
Namaste (The Light in Me honors and recognizes the Light in You)