I have been in Colorado for close to a month now and this week I have acknowledged that I have been taking false refuge in distractions because I have lost my purpose. Now before you say, Seriously, she’s lost her purpose? Let me explain. When I started teaching yoga I found a purpose that I never knew I had. I was helping people through posture and breath. Through teaching I connected to women and men of all ages and I gave meaning to the human experience by helping students realize their potential and uncover their true selves.
During that time, I was still a wife, and a mama, and continued with the daily tasks and responsibilities as such. But I lost my self through the work I was bringing to others. My personal practice suffered. I started to get burnt out from teaching all the while still trying to hold myself to the highest standard for my students. Because they depended on me to guide them. But who was guiding me? Where did I go? I am sure there are yoga teachers who have had similar experiences. When I discovered yoga 15 years ago it gave me meaning and uncovered all the layers that were holding me from who I really am. That is what yoga does. That is why I wanted to teach.
And now that I am not teaching, I have realized I need to repurpose. I need to find myself again. To be more than a wife and a mother, (even though I know that is enough in itself) I want to be a friend to myself-to be forgiving, and again uncover the layers that I put back into a cocoon because I wanted to be there to help others. I don’t think that will ever go away-my wanting to help, but I also need to help myself when I need it. I need to let go of the distractions and be on my mat to define my purpose. Yoga has always taught me to accept where I am in the moment. As of late, I have been sad, and lonely. I am navigating a new world and place where I am trying to find belonging. I don’t want to distract myself any longer. I want to feel all of it. Every emotion of sadness, happiness and everything in between. It makes the transition and transformation worth it. I truly believe that we are like butterflies coming out of a cocoon many times over in one lifetime. It’s up to me to stay awake and confront the fear and scariness because when I reach the other side and see how far I’ve come, it makes it all worth it.
Here we go! Last day of school is tomorrow. Teachers stopped giving out homework two weeks ago. Our pool that we belong to opened on Memorial Day and the kids get in the water even though its 50 degrees. Where am I going with this? Well, every year around this time, I fight the slowness until I raise my white flag and surrender to the season. That said, that has not always been a good thing. I become more lenient as a parent by letting my kids eat more popsicles, and ice cream. They stay up later, and get a little lazy at times. Our schedules change in the summer and our routines have an "Eff it" attitude. Every year, I say, NO! This summer is going to be different, and then its not. So this year, I am putting an end to all of that and allowing myself to surrender to what is.
Yoga teaches us to surrender. It teaches us that these moments of slow-ness instead of busy-ness are
alright to have. It allows us to appreciate time moving a slower pace. I for one used to be the person that would get a little scared every time I knew summer was around the corner. Because I knew what this meant for my work, my family, the change in our every day life. I used to look at that with fear. My mind becoming busy with "what if's" and so on. Now, I embrace it. I surrender to the season. I enjoy my kids, because they are only kids once. Ice cream for breakfast? Sure why not?! YOLO right?
Recently, my husband and I talked about if we were to move where would we move to? (Don’t worry mom if you are reading this, we aren’t moving) We started going over different cities. I am a beach person, and my husband is a mountain guy. There leaves about 5 cities/states that we agree on where we could live. Then, we started getting into a more serious conversation about it and what that would mean for our family? Would our kids be ok? Could we move away from our families? Would we be satisfied if we did move? Lots of questions! But what I said, is that no matter where we moved it wouldn’t matter because we would be together and happiness isn’t determined upon where you live but how you live in the place you reside.
See, it isn’t about moving at all. It’s the ability to let go of fear if you did move, it’s about letting go of judgment and trusting the process. Sounds hippy dippy right? I know it probably is-but I wouldn’t be saying it, if I didn’t believe it. When I was 19 years old, I decided I was going to pack up everything I had, put it on a plane, ship it to California and move there. Was I scared? A little. But I was young, and fearless, and didn’t care how it was going to turn out because I know I would be ok. I did move to California. I stayed for 5 years until I moved again. Yoga teaches us to be with our natural state of oneness. It allows us to be exactly as we are in the moment we are in, so if you take away the other stuff; job, house, money, etc. Then what are you left with you can be content with-even if that is a lot or a little.
If you are worried about how things are going to turn out, or if things are uncertain in your life, always come back to your breath. Breathe in the air that will clear your mind and find the place that will open your heart. Because your heart will lead you to that happy place of gratitude and compassion. And we all know “Home is where the heart is”.
I begin to write this while I am angry. Because what better way to get your feelings out- than on paper and try for some clarity on where the anger is coming?
It seems that since I have had children my biggest struggle has been finding balance in my roles-mother-wife-business owner-friend. I am one of those women that want to do it all. This gets me in trouble more then I would like. I over commit, I stress myself out, and then I wonder how I got there? Knowing I did this to myself.
My husband and I are constantly checking in with our calendars and trying to make our lives run as smoothly as we can. But sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes we feel like rock stars because of how well we are doing. So, where did the anger come from in the first place? I can now see that it comes from a place that is not my true self but from fear. Fear that I am not doing enough, or that I am failing in one way or another.
I’ve realized there isn’t a right or wrong way to do this. For me, I know I need to give myself more time to the roles of my life. But, I also know I will fall short in at least one of them every day. So how do we find the balance? I say YES a lot. I mean a lot. I need to say NO more. A lot of the struggle for me is saying yes to everything. If I don’t I feel guilty and then there’s this cycle. You know the one. Make space for yourself, this is when I truly find balance. Things are hectic in my mind and in my life when I don’t put myself first which for me is my yoga practice. So the best advice I can give- be willing to forgive yourself when you fall short, give yourself space to fail, tell yourself its ok. Take time for yourself and don’t feel guilty about it and lastly, go to bed early and try again tomorrow.
Tiffany (RYT 200®) is a student and teacher of yoga living in Baltimore, Maryland.
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