“I’m so scattered.” “My mind doesn’t process like that.” “I’m not business savvy.” “I’m not a business woman.” “I’m not sure people will take me seriously.” “I don’t know.”
These are all things (and then some) that I’ve been telling myself. I get up each day and physically do the work and take steps towards what I feel is my calling. But what is the point of working hard if your mind works against you? I’ve been working with a mentor lately and the focus has been on breaking limiting mental patterns. The “stuff” you tell yourself that you don’t even realize you tell yourself because you’ve been telling yourself the “stuff” for so long. As I was sitting in stillness to greet this day, my eyes fell on this Marley song lyric I have propped up on my bookshelf. “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.” We have the power to free ourselves from ego- and fear-based thoughts that keep us trapped and hold us back from fulfilling our purpose. The lyric is from “Redemption Song.” Take time to reflect. To meditate. To feel yourself come back into your body through a gentle yoga practice. Breathe.
Let your life going forward be a redemption song. Find someone who can help you recognize your patterns and who is willing to call you out every time you fall back on them. Take it from me. The day will come when you recognize the patterns within yourself and you check yourself on the “stuff” you tell yourself. None but ourselves can free our minds.
“As for us, if things fall, we will reach for them. If things break, we will try to put them together. If loved ones cry, we will try to soothe them – because that is what we do. I have often reached out, and sometimes it feels like a mistake. Sometimes, I have been stung. But it doesn’t matter, because that is what I do. That is what we do. It is the reaching out that is more important than the sting. In truth, I’d rather be fooled than not believe.”
This is the closing paragraph from today’s reflection from Mark Nepo’s, “The Book of Awakening.” Man, it hits home.
It’s the blessing and the curse of being an Empath. Your heart makes you want to reach out and help. To reach out and love. But putting your heart out there also means subjecting it to the energy and actions of others. In a nutshell, your heart emotions can get hurt. In a word, it’s vulnerability.
As I continue to grow in life and along my journey, I realize I’ve always been okay with being vulnerable. It’s what drives this blog and probably part of what draws me to Yoga. A true commitment to the yogic path, both physically and mentally, requires a certain level of openness and willingness to come face-to-face with who you are. It’s the place where you learn that it’s more important to you to reach out, than it is not to be stung.
Like Nepo, I’d rather be fooled. Because it’s in those foolish moments where it all happens. Where you experience the dizziness and passion of love. Where you taste freedom – if even just for a moment. But enough to know that freedom is what you seek and what you won’t compromise. In a way, choosing to be fooled is what gives you the strength to take another step and keep on trying. It is how we learn to surrender to the flow of Life.
Another holiday season is behind us, and another new year lies ahead. We’re already 4 (almost 5) days in and we still have about 360 days to visualize, plan, incorporate and live the changes we want to see in our lives. Like many others, I have already thought about where I am right now and where I’d like to be by the end of this year. Some of the big transitions I want to see in my life are desires that have carried over from last year and the year before that. On one hand, I continue to remain excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and how the unknown will pan out. But on the other hand, I am working hard not to let into my spirit a sense of anxiety that seems to be lurking.
There’s different factors playing into the feeling of anxiousness. I had two luscious weeks off from work and was able to spend a significant amount of time with my family and loved ones. I always tend to get a feeling in the pit of my stomach when I’m hours away from returning to my job after being off for a long while and having to prepare for the regular 9-5 routine. It was hard to leave my family in NY and come back to DC, but I adjusted. I had a chance to spend quality time with a special someone, but now we are back in our individual spaces and I am having to adjust again.
I am fully aware that life is constantly about adjusting, but there are times when the adjustments challenge me. It is all a part of staying present and remaining focused on the work of detachment. Not living in the past and not worried about what the future will bring. But speaking to the latter point, there is also anxiety about what I have not changed; namely my career. At the end of 2012, I thought for sure I’d be in a different place by the end of 2013. At the end of 2013, I thought the same for 2014. Now here I am at the starting line again. The biggest – and most important – difference though, is that I personally feel different. Stronger. More mindful. Aware of the tools I have developed and am armed with as I grow and encounter and overcome challenges that have come about on my journey towards my most authentic self. Whereas at this time last year I would have been emotionally blindsided by feelings of anxiety, I can now see it coming from a mile away. That means thinking positive thoughts and reciting positive affirmations to myself. Instead of fretting about how quickly my two-week break has come to an end (something I really want to do), I am reminding myself to be grateful for the time I had to myself. The time that allowed me to nurture relationships that are important to me. And while I may not love my job, the work comes in reminding myself to be grateful that I have a job to return to. The transition into 2014 found me kicking and screaming about going back to work. This year I am focused on acceptance and gratitude. As my Yoga teacher and mentor always says: The quickest way to change a situation for the better is to constantly be grateful for it. It is my intention to approach tomorrow morning, and the hundreds of emails that are likely waiting for me, with a most triumphant attitude. Perhaps this will make the biggest difference in me being in a different place career-wise by the end of 2015.
At this time last year, I did not desire to be in a relationship and spent most of my time consciously not dating and making overdue investments in myself. Now I feel like I am ready and more adept at being able to truly coexist with another. I want to know what that will look like and when and how it will happen, and while I have “a feeling” there will be big changes in the romance department for me this year, I know that I have to approach this in the same manner as I am approaching everything else. Acceptance of what isn’t. Living fully in what is. While in the past I may have moaned and groaned about being single, I now know to fully embrace this time I have to solely dedicate to myself and my son. The freedom that comes with not being in a relationship allows me to consider new career options that I otherwise might not be able to if I had a significant other to think about. I have often understood in theory the importance of guarding our thoughts. I can now see the value and benefit of actually applying this theory to real life situations.
It’s funny. As I write this, I think about how I strongly desire change in my life. But my intention when I sat down to write was to channel the anxiety I feel about the changes that are occurring. I guess sometimes you have to talk through your own situation or step outside of it, to see it for what it really is. What I really want more of is the change. What I want less of is the anxiety. That has been the focus of my Yoga, learning meditation practices and grounding myself more in faith and spirituality. I also want to write more and so perhaps it is a good thing that I’ve done so on this 4th day of the new year. Especially since it’s been months since I last wrote.
“They” say the only constant in life is change. That statement is a juxtaposition within itself, but I get it. In the same way that I want to bring about change in my life, but am anxious about it once it happens. Even though change is a constant, it is also a process. And with every process there must come a level of patience. For me, it is having patience with my job, patience with my Yoga practice, patience with relationships and most importantly, patience with myself. I believe I have personally changed for the better over the course of 2014. I look forward to and embrace all that is to come with 2015. We’ll see what I’m writing about in 360 days.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change those things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.”
I’ve heard of and read the Serenity Prayer many times in my life. As one who can have a tendency to be anxious and worrisome, my dad has often said to me, “Rachel, remember what the Serenity Prayer says. Only focus on what you can change.” He’d ask me if I really understood what it meant and I would answer affirmatively because in theory, I did understand it. But as I spent a few moments in quiet reflection in front of my meditation altar this morning, the words really hit me. I have my beloved Grandmother Ruby’s framed copy of the Serenity Prayer in the center of my altar. She passed away seven years ago, and of all her possessions, this was one of the things I really wanted. I remember exactly where she hung it in her bedroom. She lived to be 101 years-old, and I imagine that the Serenity Prayer played a key role in her living such a long and fulfilling life. I look at the words every day, but this morning I felt them sink in and touch a place deep in my spirit. I read the words over and over to myself until I was brought to tears. In my mind’s eye, I saw a parenthesis behind “cannot change” that included the word, “people.” I saw another parenthesis behind “those things I can” that included the word, “me.” I already knew that we cannot change people, but sometimes there can be a gap between what we know and really making an attempt to apply the concept to our lives. I acknowledge there is a gap within me.
I came to my meditation altar this morning heavily contemplating a certain relationship in my life. This person has been in my world for 15 years and as such, there have been plenty of ups and downs. We were friends, we were married and we now share custody of a beautiful 7 year-old little boy. I’m only one child in, but my experience so far has shown me that co-parenting can be one of the toughest relationships to navigate. I often find myself challenged by the way I do things as a parent vs. the way my ex-husband does things. Like my knowledge of the Serenity Prayer in theory, I have been aware that I can place high expectations on my ex-husband, but it wasn’t until this morning that I allowed myself to feel it. As I read the words over and over, I fully acknowledged that I can’t change him. I can’t make him be the parent or person I think he should be. I can only change myself and how I allow our relationship to affect me. I see clearly now why my dad always said that my life would be so much easier if I truly lived with the Serenity Prayer as my guiding principle.
As I went into meditation, my mind being what it is had a million thoughts running through it. I’ve learned that as thoughts arise in meditation, we should acknowledge them and then simply let them go. Yet one thought in particular just kept popping up. And oddly enough, it was a thought about a phone cord on the telephone I use at work. Strange, I know. But instead of trying to force the thought out of my mind, I allowed it to pass through. Once it did, it made total sense.
When my company moved offices a few years ago, we received new telephones. Over time, the cord on the phone I’d gotten became tangled and gnarled. It was a pesky little annoyance, because it prevented my phone from hanging up properly on the receiver. At times, I’d try to untangle it but then would become frustrated and just left it as it was. The company eventually moved offices again and the tangled cord came with me. We moved from a space where I had my own office, to a location where many of the employees, myself included, were collapsed into an open workspace. “Cubicle World,” as many of us call it. As such, a co-worker who has become a good friend was stationed behind me and had a bird’s-eye view of my telephone cord. She saw me fussing with it a few months back and asked if I ever put in a request to have it changed. When I told her I hadn’t, she said, “Here, let’s try something,” and she proceeded to go to another workspace that wasn’t being used, took the handle off a phone with a perfectly fine cord and replaced my handle with the new one. Then laughing she said, “See? Isn’t that better?” We shared a few jokes about it and moved on. What I didn’t realize at the time was how profound that gesture was.
By allowing the thought of the phone with the tangled cord to pass through my mind during meditation this morning, it landed with an eye-opening realization for me. Just as I replaced the handle with the tangled cord, I can apply the same concept to relationships in my life that have become tangled or convoluted. I can either keep fussing with trying to detangle things, or I can simply stop and replace the frustration with an untangled state of mind. Replacing the telephone cord on my relationships, if you will. It can be as simple as it was when my co-worker/friend replaced the handle and cord on my phone at work.
When I came out of meditation with that thought in mind, I read today’s reflection from “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo. It’s about allowing to come to surface all of what’s growing underneath the “stuff” that we’ve always known, been or done. We have to learn to let the old skin shed so a new and refreshed approach to life can make its way through. In Nepo’s words, “Little deaths prevent big deaths.” I do understand that. And not just in theory. Peeling back layers, acknowledging our egos and admitting to ourselves that perhaps we are not always right is not an easy thing. It’s downright vulnerable and scary. But it’s so necessary if we are to move into higher levels of consciousness and bring ease into the journey of our daily lives.
It was after my meditation and reading Nepo’s reflection, that my eyes fell on my Grandmother’s framed Serenity Prayer. Then I looked at her picture that’s just off to the side of it, and I said out loud to her, “I’m trying, Grandmother.” I can only hope to be as wise as she was.
Wisdom is best derived from experience. I cannot change my past or the decisions that led me to where I am today. I cannot change the people in my life who I love or who I’m tied to by circumstance. But I can make the choice to have a more peaceful coexistence with it all from here on out. I now better understand the difference.
I have really missed this space. I miss writing. I tell myself almost every day, “I need to write.” And yet this space has continued to remain empty. For months, I haven’t shared a thought, a quote, an inspirational passage…nothing. I’ve had moments where words have hit me and I thought I would write something. But still nothing has come to pass. Sometimes this scares me, because I call myself a writer and yet, I am not writing. More so, I was told by my Godmother that my greatest success would be in writing. She transitioned last year and I now consider her as one of my ancestors. She had a very knowing way about her and was a sage in her own right. She spoke to the higher level that lies within me. A level she’d always known was there, but that I would eventually have to find my way to.
I’m still finding my way.
I digress about my Godmother because in my heart, I feel and believe that if she saw the writer in me, then it must be true. But if I am not writing, then how can it be my greatest success? I always state that I want my writing to be organic and not forced. But I wonder sometimes if I don’t write out of fear. As I grow older, more mature, more awake and more enlightened, I realize that I tend to fear that which speaks to my greatest potential. I know I am courageous, because for the most part, I have felt fear and moved forward anyway. This was made evident through moving to the Washington, DC metro area from New Jersey for grad school and not knowing a soul when I got here. When I got married and gave birth to my son. When I filed for divorced and became a single parent. When I trained to be a Yoga instructor and for Thai Yoga massage and Reiki I certifications. But it’s about taking things to the next level.
I teach one Yoga class per week, but have somewhat avoided taking on private clients, even though I have had my fair share of requests for private sessions. In being completely transparent, I fear that even with all my formal training, I am suddenly not going to know something or that I am not going to be able to help someone, or worse, that I could hurt someone. This fear translates into avoiding reading emails that I know have requests for private sessions or not really putting myself out there for obtaining clients. And the funny thing about this all? The people who I have done private yoga with just for fun, or who I have practiced a Thai Yoga massage or Reiki on, have all said the same thing: that I have warm, healing hands and energy work is exactly what I should be doing. What’s even funnier is that almost every day when I drive to work, I ask myself what else can I be doing? What is it that I want to do instead of spending so much time in traffic and constantly feeling like I’m rushing someplace? I ask myself as though I don’t know the answer, when answers have clearly been placed in front of me.
I’m still finding my way.
In my mind, I live on or near the beach. My home is an open, airy space with a room that is dedicated to Yoga, meditation and other forms of energy healing. When I wake up in the mornings, I do my own Yoga practice. I meditate. I read affirmations. I write in my journal. I am able to prepare breakfast for my son in a leisurely manner and I am able to drop him off at school without constantly trying to move him along and make him go faster because there is a looming clock to beat. Instead of sitting in and fighting my way through traffic to get to a place where I mainly sit behind a computer all day, I go teach Yoga classes. I meet with private clients. I write contributing pieces for like-minded publications. I share affirmations and writing pieces in my social media spaces. I am able to pick my son up from school and take part in his extracurricular activities. I am at peace.
At this stage in my life, I know enough to know that peace is what you make it. The true work of Yoga and meditation is being able to find peace and solace in the midst of even the most chaotic situations. But what I see in my mind’s eye makes my soul feel at peace. I have pictures that speak to this life on my vision board. I know what it will take to get me there, but it’s that initial first step I have hesitated to take. This is the fear I speak of. The fear that I know is preventing me from my greatest potential. The fear that I believe plays a part in my lack of writing. I am at Point A and I can see Point B. It’s the bridge in between that I have held myself back from crossing. On this side lies questions and wondering. On that side lies a life I envision for myself. It’s another experience of having to feel the fear and doing it anyway.
I don’t know if this particular blog post makes much sense. But I am now sitting here, proud of myself for having finally written something. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to write. I just knew I wanted to share that I have missed this space.
I felt the fear of not writing and I wrote anyway.
I’m going to keep that vision of the life I want at the front of my mind.
I’m still finding my way…