A Story to Start...
I have been staring at this page for 3 weeks now. How can I sum up all that I feel, all that I want to share in one page? The challenge is entirely overwhelming, and to be honest, frightening. No words will ever seem quite right and most things I say will not resonate with everyone I would like to reach. But much like other aspects of life, I repeat the mantra “let go.” So here I am, vulnerable, unsure and ready to let go, to share my thoughts with the world.
To understand where I am coming from, I will start with a story:
Soon after I graduated college, I was eager to move into Manhattan and start a shiny, new sales job. After the excitement of moving into a new apartment and work orientation, I was hit with a hard reality. “Welcome to the real world” life whispered. Plagued with anxiety, pressure, uncertainty, I dragged myself to work everyday entirely unsatisfied and unhappy. I often wondered, is this it? Is this what I will be doing for the REST OF MY LIFE? It saddened me. I had fallen into a track of what was expected by others instead of truly understanding my passions and creative nature. What impact was I making in the world? How was I truly living the best version of my life, finding my own personal bliss to share with others? I was not, because I was not full myself. I quickly realized I was following someone else's path and not my own. I knew I had to take a journey inward. For the journey must begin within the self in order to manifest on the outside.
As everything in life happens for a reason, I was blessed by finding a wonderful mentor during my time at work. On the first day I reported to my new boss, she sat me down and said, “I do not care if you don't want to work in sales for the rest of your life. Tell me what you want to do and we will get you there.” This was revolutionary, my boss, someone who in a classical setting would want to grow me into her position, was giving me freedom. She was selfless enough to put her needs aside and help me explore life as a young, uncertain 20-something year old. I immediately felt comfortable and opened up, expressing my desires to travel the world and maybe become a certified yoga instructor. Two weeks later, my boss had arranged a meeting for me with her favorite yoga instructor to negotiate a deal on a teacher training (sales woman at her finest.) It was entirely out of my conservative, comfort zone to commit to a 200 hour teacher training that did not benefit my job and cost money. But for once, I quieted the “rational” voice in my brain and signed on the dotted line. No matter what came of this training, I knew it would be a wonderful journey for my growth.
Needless to say, YTT was the most amazing journey of my life. Yoga is a practice so much deeper than the physical asana, the poses. It taught me how to breathe, how to meditate, how to constantly study the turnings of my mind, the vrittis. I became an analyst, studying and understanding the inner workings of my brain. When moments of anxiety came up, I noticed why, what environments triggered them, how to let them pass while holding no judgements.
So here I am, ten months later and so deeply, to my core, GRATEFUL that I found this amazing practice. This vehicle that taught me how to embrace life and most importantly, myself. As stated in the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, “As the mind, so the man; bondage or liberation are in your own mind.” The perceptions we hold of ourselves and the world will imprison us if we do not understand how capable we are in altering them. However, this takes practice, consistency, and a ton of patience. Every day we must commit to this training. Emotions come up that we may not want to deal with. We dig deep and pull out years of emotional gunk, creating self-realizations that can initially be off-putting or hard to understand. We teach ourselves to actually FEEL, fully and completely. As this is something we have have lost and desensitized in our culture. We take a life-long commitment to studying ourselves, to studying our minds recognizing how easy it is to conform to old habits and others’ impressions. As Elle Luna so poignantly states in her talk, “Find Your Must,” it is hard to resist the “dancing monkey treats.” So I keep my persistence and work towards resisting these everyday “treats,” knowing that the world is my internal projections. If I can change myself, I can change the world. You can too.