Leaving for a month-long yoga trip to Costa Rica is a unique opportunity. While I’m there I’ll be keeping a journal, some of which I’ll share. I’ve spent the last 8 months or so researching 500 hour yoga teacher trainings, knowing I would invest. I wanted to do it outside the U.S. and in order to save for it, I decided to live at home. Besides quality yoga teacher training and heavy emphasis on meditation, I found a program that focuses on exploring the unconscious self. Often we engage in habits, beliefs, mind-thoughts and limiting behaviors, which lead us away from our goals, astray in relationships, and may even cause us to avoid our inner truths and feelings– the bad and therefore the good too.
I want career success, but along with that, I have been working to create an honest relationship within… I’m starting to see how the later correlates with the former. Making this personal effort has helped me uncover some of my own unconscious habits, beliefs, mind-thoughts and limiting behaviors. Beyond mindset, which is the hardest aspect to change, it’s a lot of work to be an honest observer of yourself (I wrote about that journey in a previous post). This is a type of effort-investment that has given me insight to better understand myself and others as well. To me, a spiritual existence happens by fostering a connection within, to more easily make connections with out.
I started to see deeper levels of how things connect:
- How we become blind if we get too caught-up in the details of our own situations, when the answers exist just outside of them.
- How we create our own lived reality by choosing to focus on either fear or love. Our chosen focus is what we will continually attract. It is always a choice; making it a conscious decision is a powerful one.
- How important it is to know yourself emotionally. If you lie to yourself with how you feel, it will be a struggle to connect with others. Most things in life serve as a catalyst for feelings to arise, noticing triggers can change patterns.
- How we often fall victim because we choose to view ourselves that way, when instead choosing to be the victor is much more empowering. In other words, whatever you want to believe will be true for you.
- How growing away from a contracted view point takes an openness that requires you to continually walk further and further away from your comfort zone. Ironically, the further away you step, the more comfortable you’ll become.
These are some of the realizations I’ve had since investing in a relationship with myself based on integrity, patience, kindness and forgiveness. I started being honest with myself, even if it meant seeing what I didn’t want to. I started being patient with myself, realizing that small steps create big leaps. I stopped being critical of myself, and started to let go of past mistakes and regrets… maybe not right away, but letting go has come easier. Improving my relationship with myself almost simultaneously became mirrored in my relationships with others: I started to be more vulnerable, which has allowed me deeper connections. I started becoming more patient with others, realizing that everyone is learning just like I am, and it takes time. I stopped being as critical and started to look with understanding upon first view. I started to become more forgiving; choosing forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, to let go of past pain. Forgiveness means relief. All of this has taught me elements of what creates inner peace. All of this is intuitive knowledge that you do not need to look outside yourself for, but it is hidden within…
Taking the first step or the 50th means the same thing. It means asking what you want out of life. Who is in your driver’s seat? If you think it’s you, but are easily influenced, with intentions aimed to please/prove and impress others, then maybe only half of you is present– the other half still unknown. I used to be this way. I was somewhat swayed, distracted and easily disrupted. When I figured it out I felt angry. I felt like the victim. I lashed out. I compromised myself because I wasn’t willing to own my part in that. Now it is much different, but the only thing I worked to initially change was my mindset. However, as a result: my ability to see, my actions, self-worth and feelings have all significantly altered for the best. I experience life differently, and it has more meaning.
What I am bringing to your attention is sometimes hard to think about. Yoga is the spark that ignited my journey inward, inspiring a yearning and true effort to deepen my awareness as a result. This is why I consider myself to be “on a spiritual journey.” It’s an honest journey, and it leaves me feeling constantly humbled by all that life has to offer. I am the forever student; with my whole heart I believe it is thinking this way that makes the seemingly impossible… realistic. This idea can be further explained metaphorically, to describe what it is like to achieve difficult yoga poses that only seem impossible: it does take dedication, but I never thought I’d be able to put my foot on my head, wear my legs over my shoulders like a backpack, or do some crazy arm balance until I believed I could. It was only possible because of something much deeper: mindset, that set of beliefs you don’t always realize you carry. Changing this, my set of inner truths, has been the key I’ve used to unlock doors camouflaged as brick walls. I see how building a life I desire works like building a puzzle: view the whole picture as it is, with the holes and without the details. It’s your intention and effort that form the missing puzzle pieces, but the catch is that you can’t be fixated on placing any two pieces together… they fall that way, then you build more. This process is propelled by mindset: it can be every answer or every problem.
Diving deeper into this realm is something I am looking forward to reflecting on in Costa Rica. I’ve faced some tough challenges and had to learn difficult lessons this year, at the same time it has opened my eyes in ways they will never close. And even though I can see with more clarity how things are interrelated, and have created a better relationship with myself, I still struggle at times. It takes a constant effort of mindfulness to keep moving forward and not back. For example, I have a tendency to backtrack when it comes to dealing with my feelings. The best way to avoid them is by distraction. My job is my most favorite distraction I’ve ever had. Teaching a yoga class is a lot like folding origami: where everything has a purpose, it takes full concentration, and it’s done in a certain order. I get to do this for 15-18 classes a week… Maybe just call it my “Great Escape.” I’m so present with you, that I’m not ‘with’ myself. This is time I’m allowed not to have to work on all that stuff I just talked about. Although it’s a good excuse not to, well, better than some, teaching can feel like somewhat of an addiction, just like the purpose of any other drug: to create a distraction. Actual drugs, food, relationships, sex, the internet, money, movies, T.V., books, etc., can be used to take us into a present where we don’t have to deal with the true nature of things. “We create our reality.” Facing the truth means recognizing: responsibilities (personal, professional, social), obligations, decisions, actions, consequences, feelings, thoughts, disasters, diseases… mortality. We do hold our own selves accountable, but only when we make the choice to acknowledge it.
It’s easier to hold yourself accountable when you aren’t dealing with emotional currents. However, when you are hit with some waves, it can be more challenging. Lately I’ve been hit with a few: I got my heart broken recently. But, not the kind of the romantic variety. A friend broke up with me. It was a guy friend, a best friend. We had been friends for three years and have many memories. I saw him the same way I see my best girl friend, as a soul friend. When you don’t notice that you saved someone a spot in your life, in effect, you’ve carved out a piece of your heart just for them and made it their place. It hurts in a way that’s much different than any heartbreak I have ever experienced before. A crumbled romantic relationship breaks your heart, but that piece of your heart comes back when you meet someone else. It may feel unique because no romantic relationship is the same, but the place in your heart where you put them is. Losing a meaningful friend feels similar to the loss of a family member, their place in your heart is unique. It has been hard for me to come to terms with, and I know I’ve been avoiding my feelings. I don’t like feeling sad and instead of just dealing, I see how I’ve been creating distractions. The two or three people who knew about this before I decided to write about it, have said something like: “Sara this trip will be a great way to forget it all.” …But that’s just it, traveling thousands of miles to ‘escape’ isn’t the answer. It’s a lie. A completely seductive lie that reads: “Leave all your worries behind.” And maybe you do for a short time, but wherever you go, your problems go too. On this trip, I am not going to use it as an excuse to run. Running gets tiring, and distractions become less distracting. Herein lies the double-edge sword: it’s like looking yourself in the eyes– to see what you want and don’t; cultivating mindfulness means you will no longer fall for your own lies, you’ll start to realize what you are doing and why… and you’ll even see how to fix it, yet sometimes still, you decide to fight with yourself. I’ve seen it from both sides: you can create a hard relationship with yourself or the best one you’ll ever have.
There’s really only one option.
At the same time, you’ll never really know what you choose not to see.
To be continued…