Joseph Campbell said; “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”
When I close my eyes and think of this quote, a movie reel of my life flashes on the big screen of my mind. My family, the sweet memories from childhood, old clothes and cars, neighborhoods we ran around in, who I was then, my accolades, what got me to where I am today, all that I have and am in this moment and the fabulous people that share their lives with me, how my family has grown with so many beautiful new souls and I smile as I think of the angels above looking down on me. Indeed, what a privilege.
If I’m not careful, the moment I open my eyes the devil’s advocate of my mind says; “Yeah but; remember that time? That thing? The way you acted? The mean words you spoke? You could be doing more. Have you really worked that hard? Remember what they said to you? How they treated you? Imagine if you had more? Think of so-and-so, they are ones who are really privileged.”
Why is it so hard for us to be kind to ourselves? To appreciate all that we have in the moment, both the shadow and the light? Why do we celebrate some and condemn others? Why do we fall victim to believing that we are unworthy of love, not deserving of happiness? Why don’t we always, without doubt or question, value ourselves, love ourselves, have respect for ourselves, speak kindly and sweetly to the person we see in the mirror each day?
In yogic philosophy the answer is Avidya. Defined as “spiritual ignorance”. Rolf Gates says “we have forgotten where we come from and who we are”. To put it simply, we seek answers outside of ourselves, when in fact the answers lie within. We look into the material world and define ourselves with it. Identified with a world that is that is completely beyond our control, we are consumed with fear.” But, somewhere deep within “we have a hunch that there must be a better way. We have grown tired of our perfectionism, our unhappy relationships with our bodies, our inability to love completely or be loved completely, our endless resentments and sorrows.”
When I look at my life, and who I am, with love and respect and kindness I am fueled, energized, optimistic, ready for the world. When I remember that I am of God/Spirit/Source/Consciousness/Mother Earth, connected to all beings as a leaf is to a tree, then I am humbled, I give gratitude and share openly what I have learned, I allow myself to be vulnerable, am present, wise, giving and I love BIG.
In avidya, I am afraid. Scared of my success, closed off to love, defensive, hardened, I block inspiration, gossip, am unable to forgive my past mistakes and therefore will judge and condemn and hold myself to expectations without allowing for the learning curve. In this space, I am exhausted, tired, defeated, unworthy.
Rooted in avidya is where I found the yoga mat. Not looking to change my life in any way or realizing how tired I was, how angry I had become or how unworthy I believed myself to be. The mat is where all of this bubbled to the surface. But, the beauty of the practice, is that it accepted me that way, it did not say; “you are broken”. It simply said “you have forgotten”. With the assistance of several wonderful teachers, mentors, role models and students it was as if I wiped off a window that had been covered in dust and dirt for years. The light poured in and, for however brief, I knew that there was indeed a better way.
This life is strange and beautiful, difficult and fun, magical and painful. All I know to do is show up, stay inspired, watch every sunrise and set that I can, stare at the full moon in awe, meditate and pray. The time spent forgetting is slowly lessening but it is a daily practice. For you, I have compiled some of my favorite reminders. This month; appreciate YOU!
“Whoever told you weren’t good enough, LIED.” And; “If you listen closely you’ll hear a small voice hidden in the dim shade of all your fears that whispers. ‘This isn’t real.’ ‘You are not broken.’ ‘You don’t need to be fixed.’” What we often don’t realize is; “most of the shadows of this life are caused by us standing in our own sunshine.” And that; “only the truth of who you are, if realized, will set you free.” Because; “You were never created to live depressed, defeated, guilty, condemned, ashamed or unworthy. You were created to be fabulous.” So I invite you for this next month to; "Eat like you love yourself. Move like you love yourself. Speak like you love yourself. Act like you love yourself."