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Inhale Difficult Challenges, Exhale Gratitude
When I first started practicing yoga, in my twenties, I was determined to achieve the perfect poses. Yoga had nothing to do with my mind, body or spirit. It had everything to do with my ego, that nasty part of myself that was hell bent on keeping me disconnected from my heart. My ego only cared about what other people thought. I needed to please everyone around me because I so desperately needed their approval to feel worthy and loved – it certainly wasn’t coming from anywhere inside of me. At this point in my life my physical body was the target of all my unhappiness. With every class I took, I forced my body to fold deeper and stretch farther, as if touching my toes was going to finally make me love myself. As I battled with an eating disorder I continued my toxic relationship with yoga. My body was resilient through all of the self-inflicted abuse. Yoga was unwavering and loyal in it’s ability to hold a safe space for me through it all.
The practice provided no answers, no cure, just space to move and breathe. What I didn’t know at the time is that the love I sought so desperately was already within me. It had been there all along. I just wasn’t ready to go inward. I believed that my difficult challenges were happening to me; that healing and happiness were outside of me. If only I tried harder, ate less, exercised more, pleased more, bought more. The truth is that difficult challenges happen FOR us – to break open and awaken our hearts to our deepest connection to mind, body and spirit. Today, as a single mother of three boys in my forties, I can clearly see that the message has always been that I AM love. God loves me unconditionally. That journey from pain to peace is connected by one thread – self-awareness. My ego sought to keep me separate from my True Self. Through the eyes of ego I saw myself as body parts – my legs were too short, my breasts too small, my bottom too big. When I moved on my yoga mat in my twenties and thirties I was moving pieces of myself – most especially those pieces I hated and was hoping to change, as if that would make me feel loved. When I move on my yoga mat now, in my forties, I move as a whole being from the inside out. I flow from a place bigger than myself on a mat that mirrors forgiveness, surrender, understanding, compassion, courage and above all else, gratitude.