Freedom Part I
“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.” ~ Tina Fey
20 years ago I was watching an interview with Madonna and heard her say she did yoga. Fresh out of the nest, testing my wings for the first time, I had just began questioning religion, the way I ate, the beliefs I’d had up to that point, my perspective of the world around me.
“Hmmm, yoga” I thought. It sounded intriguing, different, cultish. I liked it. I went right out and signed up for a ten week course. “Thank you Madge….for it is this practice that has had the most significant influence on my growth and transformation. Yoga helped to answer the questions I had about the world and my place in it. It gave me a understanding of personal responsibility, self worth and the power that exists in the present moment. Yoga has taught me when I’m stuck, tight, or feel helpless, when my mind seems to be spinning beyond my control, when I’m anxious or ungrounded; there’s another way to see the world.
Here I am at the beginning of 2017, 20 years later, and I found myself listening to Madonna again. She was honored with the award of Billboard Women in Music, Woman of the Year 2016. She gave a bold acceptance speech that began when she moved to NYC as a teenager and the horrifying and unexpected events that occurred in those first few years. She said these events not only shaped the women she is today but taught her in life there is no real safety except self-belief. As I listened I thought, “there it is again”.
In a time when we are confused and found questioning the world around us we are awakening to another way.
We are being reminded that we already possess the answers we are seeking and it begins by believing in ourselves. We look out at an ego-driven world that is beyond our control and it’s a big scary place where if I win, you lose. On the mat we look within and we are reminded of truth of who we are. A truth that we all know but possibly have lost touch with along the way.
The beginning of the year provides us with the notion of a blank slate, a fresh start where we often create the space to envision who it is we want to be, how it is we want to show up in the world. These visions for the future are exciting and hold a tremendous amount of momentum because they have lived in our hearts for years and we are awakening to them. We are accepting the possibility that there is indeed another way.
Freedom Part II
“Everyone has a yearning for something bigger than them. There’s an awe, a wonder. We are drawn, curious, have an innate natural wisdom about doing something different.” ~Pema Chodron
There is no getting around it, as humans we are creatures of change. And the moment we set our sights on the possibility of another way to think, to speak, to act, we instantly have a desire to create change; as scary as that can be, or as unsure about how to proceed we may feel. Think about how simply and frequently you ask for change in our everyday life. If you are hungry, you want to eat, if you are full you want to stop eating. If you are cold you want to be warm and when you are hot you would like a cool breeze. There’s no getting around it, change and desire are everywhere. Stepping on the yoga mat is no exception. Just like the first days of the new year, the first minutes of class the question is posed; why are you here? What is that you want to embody in this life? What is your intention?
For the longest time this was confusing to me. I couldn’t actually articulate why I was there or what exactly I wanted to embody in this life, it seemed like a lot of pressure to come up with this one magical phrase, even if we were simply stating it to ourselves silently. So I never really stated anything at all. Until, that is, I began to understand the power of thought and intention.
Mike Dooley explains that “we want change because there are either things you dislike about the present (cons) or things you want about the future (pros)”. Let’s imagine we have just stepped onto the mat. I’ve decided to come to yoga because there are things I dislike about the present (cons); my body feels tight or weak, my mind imbalanced, scattered, my emotions are angry, sad, alone or spiritually I feel disconnected, ungrounded. And there are things I want for the future (pros); I want my body to be open, flexible, strong, my mind to be focused, clear, I want to be happy, energetic, to feel alive, I want to be connected and grounded.
Once we see that the pros and cons exist all the time we see how easy it is to set an intention. Ask yourself, “what do you want to focus on? The pros or the cons?” It’s simple. If I’m mad I want to be happy, if I’m anxious I want to be calm, sick I want to be well. What you focus on becomes your story, becomes your perspective of the world around you. But we know, there is always another way. Focus on what it is you want for the future, what does strength look like? What does fluidity feel like? What does equality or justice or abundance or success or love and happiness? Go ahead, imagine it! Know that this is where your power to create lies, in this moment you are creating, making your intentions manifest. Now state it silently to yourself. When an intention is stated it is said as a short positive statement as if it already exists in present time. “I am..” “I have…” “I create…”
Freedom Part III
“To be free we must acknowledge our resistance.” ~Gabby Bernstein
Now that you have your intention the next step in allowing it to become manifest is to believe it. We have to make room in our consciousness for this thing that supposedly doesn’t exist. We have to believe that we worthy of the very thing that we want. This is where we get stuck and refuse to believe that we are capable of manifesting the life that we want. This is also where we start to take our power back by seeing how we keep ourselves stuck. Our logical and practical mind first says, “well it isn’t true. How am I supposed to believe something that isn’t true.” We don’t allow our imaginations to wander to the future that we want. Or we say “I could have my dream if all you clowns would just be different.” Or, “yes, I really want happiness, success, a strong body, an open heart, but let me tell all the reasons I why I’ll never have it.” We then empower our limitations as we justify this list of reasons that stand in our way. Then there is the saddest of all the walls we’ve built, because it leaves us victim of circumstance, if only. “if only this were different, I would be happy.”
The beauty is that once we acknowledge our resistance it doesn’t have quite the same hold on us. We can actually begin to see that our resistance was put there to protect us and as the powerful creators of change that we are we know that there is another way. Your resistance is an opportunity to acknowledge injustice and fight for fairness. To see hate and do all that you can to create love. To know fully what anxiety and fear feel like but commit to powerful, present moment awareness and action. Acknowledging our resistance is to finally set ourselves free.
Freedom Part IV
“You are not your body. You are not the wild parade of thoughts that march through your mind. You are not the highs and lows of your emotions. You are not the sense of separation you so often feel. You are the witness, the one that is capable of observing the body, the mind, the emotions.” ~cl
The place that I found it the easiest to understand self-belief, intention, resistance and freedom is the space of the yoga mat. We show up in all of our humanness but eventually find who it is we are and where it is we’ve come from. That we are indeed the the witness, the one who observes without judgement or expectation. Unfortunately somewhere along the way of everyday life we have completely distanced ourselves from the higher part of us. We have been taught to rely more on logic and practicality (not that these things are bad) than our intuition or our heart. But just because we have been led away from the truth doesn’t mean that it hasn’t always been there and it doesn’t mean we can’t go back to it right this very moment.
Gabby Bernstein says “The presence of fear is a sure sign you are trusting in your own strength.” We separate from the love and peace and power and creativity that is available to us in every moment and we begin to rely on the walls that we have built. The list of justifications for the unfulfilled life become more powerful than our ability to manifest the life we want. But the moment we realize, the moment we surrender to the knowing that we are more than these limited human bodies, that we of God, all knowing, unlimited, free, then we can finally forgive ourselves for trusting in fear, we can finally take the weight of the world off our shoulders, we can finally give up our useless attempts at trying to control the world around us and realize that all of our safety and power lies in self-belief. Believe that you are worthy of your intention, know what that looks like to you, go out into the world and create the change that you so desperately desire by being the who it is you want to be, by owning what it is you want embody, by accepting and loving who you already are.