Almost exactly two years ago, I quit a corporate job. The plan was to rock the casbah with my ideas, travel all over the world, and be generally awesome. You know that quote about making plans and God laughs? Yeah, that.
Gimme a gold star
Overworked, massively stressed version of myself trotted off to Bali during peak sales season. It was my birthday gift to me, the tonic that would give me the guts to walk away from a career in education publishing sales.
You can go ahead and replace career with identity. My self-worth was karmically tethered to the work I did for others and the recognition I received for said work.
I was in denial that my need for outside approval was so strong that my own truth was blurred underneath the expectations of others. What I didn’t admit to myself was that the cause for the frustration, anger, and resentment was a direct result of inadequate self care. Underneath my angst was dormant pain and suffering, festering and taking over my life as chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and mysterious illnesses.
That trip to Bali was the golden ticket to the beginning of my truth. I didn’t have the whole story yet. Upon return to the states, I sent my two week notice to my boss.
Duct Tape for the Soul
Once I quit that super-frustrating, ultra-comfy job, I could barely do anything. I thought it was a long term version of jet lag. Nope, just depression. My energy levels were at an all time low, and some mornings turned into afternoons before I made it out of my bed.
There was darkness rising up to the surface and I was a hair trigger away from freaking out. Why does this have to happen now? My ideal life was in the works, the blue print was in, the foundation was being laid but I couldn’t get out of bed. My inner tyrant crushed my spirit. She called me every name in the book. With anxiety at an all time high and depression looming overhead, I did what I knew. I numbed through overworking on new ventures, shopping, wine, and soda infused with CBDs.
“To be happy, I need to fix myself,” was a repeat thought on my mindscreen. No. That is total bullshit. There is nothing within us as humans that is need of fixing. Yeah, we might be broken, hurt, and wounded. It sucks, but is inevitable. Without death, there is no birth or growth. Brokenness is merely an invitation for deeper healing, vast love, and conscious expansion. However, in 2015, I believed something was wrong with me and my actions were intended to “fix” whatever it was within me that was broken.
Any workshop, retreat, or conference that remotely resonated, I signed up. I was on a motherfucking mission to fix the shit out of my wrongness, shame, and guilt. I wrote letters to the child within, did talk therapy twice a week, yoga’d it up, meditated, drank lemon water in the morning instead of coffee. I saged my house, did some light spell casting, and aligned my chakras with stones. Outside changes were made, but the real work was waiting to be done under the surface.
For the real work, I would have to go deep. The real work is real love.
Love was the last rock I wanted to turn over. I knew all the things I needed to do, but I was too exhausted to do them. Yoga practice every damn day? No thanks, I’m tired. Forgiveness work? Removing emotional clutter? Hard pass, I like my pain. Courageousness? Naw, not today. I will do that tomorrow.
From my journal—
I have so much anger and resentment that it’s a tangled web around my heart. Each moment of courage, every time I can give myself what I want to feel—a knot releases and falls away. I feel like 2 million knots are floating away in the ocean.
As love soaked and truth drenched my time on retreat was, I went back to forcing my way through life, too afraid to dive into the abyss of my feelings. I used work as a distraction, and when I didn’t get immediate results, I’d abandon projects. I sabotaged my career and businesses.
I believe that self-sabotage can be one of our best teachers. It’s an internal alarm. Your inner Kali saying: What a minute! This is not it. Abort mission! Why else would a person thwart their own progress? The subconscious mind is powerful; it’s the rudder which steers the ship. When your intution is speaking, do you listen? Because feelings, sensations, emotions are all tied to our internal GPS.
When something doesn’t feel right, what do you do?
I’ll tell you what I did. I pushed and forced and exerted more effort than needed in pursuits that didn’t resonate with my soul. After a good year of this, I broke down. Again. And again. And again. Until I had no choice but to surrender.
Sometimes circumstances get really shitty before they get better. I knew in the wake of depression, I had two choices—do what I’d always done or switch it up and do something different. On the exterior, it looked like me recommitting to being a yoga teacher and student. On the inside, this was not a calming of the storm as much as it was a calming of me. I had to teach myself to chill the fuck out.
I began to let myself be. I wrote my broken heart out—I put all those feelings down without judgement. I practiced yoga the way my body, mind, and spirit needed it—not the way my ego prescribed it: fast and furious with injuries along the way.
The storms will come and go; what I want is an unshakable confidence and luminous knowing. That stuff is made of courage.
The journey of the last two years has illuminated the roots causes of patterns, thoughts, actions so I can choose something different.
Through devastation, I found what I was looking for all along: my True Self.
Self with a capital ‘S’
One of my favorite ways to practice yoga is to read Sutras, think about them, talk about them, write about them. I love marinating in words with depth. As I am reawakening my yoga practice in a new way, in a chill way. With softness. With an ease.
When I mention self with a capital ‘s’, I am referring to the one within you who doesn’t change—your True Soul, Self, Atman. In a classic yogic text, Taittiriya Upanishad, it is said humans are comprised of five bodies.
1. Annamaya-food body. Your physical body.
2. Pranamaya-energy body. Your chakras and aura.
3. Manomaya—mental body. Your mental chatter and emotions.
4. Vijnanamaya—wisdom, intellect body. Your gut instinct. When you ‘just know’ something—that is your vijnanamaya kosha.
5. Anandamaya—causal body or bliss body. This is pure consciousness aware of itself.
Each body is called a kosha, or sheath. Think of each body as a layer. Beyond all the layers, at the core—in the center of your being is YOU. The reason a yoga practice is so crucial is that through the practice, we are able to touch our True Soul. In the world, it can be so very easy to disconnect from any of our bodies.
By remaining in communion with that One within us who doesn’t change—Our True Soul—we are in tune with what brings us joy. And really, what else could possibly be the point?