“May you be content with yourself, just the way you are…”
This line, one of my favourites from a Saint Terese of Liseaux blessing, makes me choke up every time I recite it in class. I am not sure whether it’s because I so deeply wish that those in my life and classes could believe this and feel their wholeness, worth and beauty, or if it’s that I long to believe this myself. A little voice inside tells me it is both, that the longing is in me for all of us to feel whole and complete: to feel like we are enough without needing to do more or become more to justify our existence.
My practice in recent weeks has been to consider that perhaps everything, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, is exactly as it should be. Including me. Nothing to change or improve: simply a practice in accepting and allowing myself to be, well, myself. Man oh man has that been a challenge. My insistence to dissect and analyze is like a bad habit. My addiction to deprecation, as in self-deprecating inner monologue, is surprising me in its compulsion. This practice has swiftly introduced me to my inner bully, the voice of my mind that says never enough, no matter what the outcome or cost. I could be winning a Nobel Prize and my inner bully, also known as IBSC (itty bitty shitty committee) would have some horrid remarks to inflict about my works, and ultimately, how undeserving I am for any recognition. It’s appalling in fact, the things I am willing to say to myself, the abuse I am willing to tolerate between my own two ears.
For those who don’t know, I have ankylosing spondylitis, or spinal arthritis. A long journey got me to this condition, and I will share more on this in another post. Last week, my AS flared up with pain in my body and I watched myself drown in confusion and dissolve into IBSC completely; I lost Lindsay. She was drowning. The doubt drowns me, suffocates me and cuts me off from the truth of my experience. During this unraveling, I tried to repeat my mantra: “I did my best. Everything is just as it should be. I am perfect exactly the way I am.” It was so hard to hear it amidst the violent noise in my head; the practice just didn’t seem viable when I was being bombarded from within. However, something in me knew that this practice was pulling me back from actually drowning in deprecation, and saving me from the psychosomatic breakdown that typically follows it. And so, I felt strangely propelled to continue, choosing to trust and stick with it, albeit desperately.
I suppose it must have helped me because the next day there was a clearing inside, and that space is what led me to write this post…So, here I am, declaring that I would like to oust the IBSC from my house, consider it evicted. I don’t want to spend any more of my time, thoughts and brain power on the confusion of deprecation, worrying, wondering, doubt. I don’t want to expend my energy on inflammatory thoughts that send me reeling into panic, self-conscious over thinking, and inevitably: analysis paralysis.
I want to spend my time on the inquiry- the curiosities that bloom when IBSC isn’t taking up real estate, and I want to pursue these with fierce kindness and compassion at all costs. Even if that cost is not knowing, having NO idea if I can offer what is needed in the situation, or if I will make the right decision. If I truly have compassion towards myself, then there is no danger in the wrong choice, because I will be able to move forward and learn from it no matter what the outcome. If there is no risk of an internal beat down, then I am safe. No one would ever be as cruel to me as I am to myself, so there is nothing to fear.
When I miss out on feeling my heart, when compassion is absent and it’s all harsh and abrasive disappointment, I can’t learn because fear clouds my ability to see myself, and I become overwhelmed with confusion. Confusion is a place of great fear for me. I so deeply long for clarity, for a clear mind, clear heart, clear body. To have this clarity, to me, means peace, and within that so much possibility for fulfillment of my purpose while on the planet.
I often teach a class series called Yoga for Calm, Clarity and Strength. That really does sum up who I want to be: Someone who is calm, clear and strong; someone who forgives herself always, and who gives herself the benefit of the doubt. When I dream about the person I want to be, the woman I see is someone who is fiercely resilient. Someone so gracious and compassionate that all you feel in her presence is the strength of her willingness to love you, and herself, no matter what.
I am choosing this to be who I am, today, right now, in this moment. Choosing to love at all costs, to forgive myself no matter what, to surrender judgment and to soften back from analysis when things get tricky. I am choosing to love IBSC too, as she is part of me, and she will continue to show up from time to time, but to let her know that she has served her purpose and her services are no longer required.
The Dalai Lama says that compassion is a deep and kind concern for others. The more we can care for others, even those we don’t know, don’t relate to or don’t understand, the more we can grow a warm heart of compassion. “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” And so, there it is. Compassion is my creed. Who is with me?
From my Fierce Heart to yours. I love you.