Updated: Dec 6, 2018
I recently went home to clean out my childhood bedroom. This sparked the beginning of a wormhole of reflection that I have been in for months.
As I sat there in the midst of SO. MANY. MEMORIES... I began to realize that everything I thought was unique about me, wasn't all that unique. I mean, yes, I am me, and who else could be me? But through the lens of retrospection I realize that I am an exact reflection of my parents parenting style.
We, my three brothers and I, grew up fancy free. We were given freedom to be whoever we wanted, freedom to make choices (good or bad), and mischievousness was encouraged. With a caveat... when the shit hit the fan, we were on our own. After all, we had gotten ourselves into the mess, so we had better figure out a way to get ourselves out.
I knew that our parents weren’t like the rest. I knew, even then, that we were the lucky ones. They taught us about real life. We had to problem solve, we had to figure our own stuff out. And yet, at the same time they taught us that we could have morals AND a wild heart, they taught us to follow our gut.
So here I am, another hippie in Oregon, teaching yoga and wondering what my stamp on this world is going to be. Thing is, I know what my stamp is, I just can’t articulate it. You see, I have an innate lightness. I specifically remember being 15 when my Mom first asked me “ why don't you worry? ” Even now, as I watch the world around me and I hear the stories that people hold on to... I wonder, why not just let that one go? Why not just be free from that one?
As I begin to articulate and form a way of sharing this lightness, I can’t help but return to my roots. To the parents who grew me free. This lightness? Maybe it’s not innate. Maybe it’s the result of being unconditionally loved while being taught to stand on my own two feet. Maybe it’s the result of spaciousness and freedom.
By no coincidence, I met yoga. Yoga didn't bring me lightness but in a visceral way it brought me the freedom I was raised with. The difference is this freedom was no longer tangible, it was inside me. Yoga gave me the tools to maintain a life of light. Tools that I have been grateful for time and again as the world shifts in all shapes and directions. These tools are accessible to everyone and they start with the breath. Simply by closing the eyes and slowing down our exhales we send a signal to the nervous system to slow down. Not only does this slow the chatter in the mind but it changes our relationship with the fight or flight response. This provides the landscape to truly move into the energetic release in our physical and emotional bodies. The breath provides the framework to be able to sit with discomfort, to move through the uncomfortable and come out the other side. This is what our yoga practice is all about, when we learn to move through the muck on the mat, it becomes more effortless out in our lives. When we fail on the mat we learn that our worth hasn't changed and can pick ourselves up and try again. And when we come to a pose that we resist, we are able to move deep into it, to stay with it, and with that inherent choice is freedom on the other side. This freedom becomes ours from the inside out.
So, my conclusion... We start from the foundation. We clear the slate and provide spaciousness and freedom in our breath, we choose to sit with that which we are resisting so that we can eventually let it go fully. We accept that we are unconditionally, universally loved.
And we use the tools of yoga to maintain our individual light. Because this place of light, its inside all of us, and it just needs room to breathe. It just needs to know that even if you try and fail, even if you mess up, you are still loved. And if you are still loved, then why not try and fail some more? Until something so beautiful is born that it was all worth it.