Let me just say this. The affliction we have as teachers (be it yoga teachers, or any kind of teacher really) to show up a ‘certain way’ is toxic.
To think that we have to be a certain perfect version of ourselves in showing up as leaders is not giving any space or permission to our community to be as they are. Although we may think or have been taught that leadership needs to look ‘put together’ or somehow have a stamp of ‘ok-ness’ on it, it’s actually in realness and truth that those we support can thaw and melt into their own Selves. This is what I have been learning through my experiences with teaching and leadership over the last couple of decades. It’s been s-l-o-w learning until recently, I lived for the first chunk of my life in the persona of sunshine-y leadership, always presenting myself in a positive and ‘all good’ kinda way. This decade of my 30’s has led me to a more authentic showing up, ie- a more real, messy, open-hearted, honest, down and dirty truth expressing version of myself. In doing this, I have witnessed my community softening into the truth of who they are right along with me. I don’t believe this is coincidence!
On a Zoom Yoga Nourishment session earlier this week (yes online connection is IT right now because: COVID) it was mentioned by someone that they had wanted to not show up because they didn’t like the way they were feeling and hence didn’t like the way they would look and come across in front of everyone. There were some feelings shared that our bodies are ‘betraying’ us and not feeling or ‘doing’ life the way we want which prevents us showing up as ‘presentable’ the way our ego wants us to. Who hasn’t felt this way before?…No.human.ever. Am I right?!
What was beautiful about this interaction though was that these people DID show up, they owned the challenges they were feeling, spoke to it and let themselves be witnessed in community. THIS action, in and of itself, simply allowed them to shift their state of being. Vulnerability and willingness to stay in the tension of discomfort was at the heart of the practice here. At the end, one of the people shared that love had come back into their heart and they realized that showing up as they are is the gift they have to offer the world! BAM. So good.
The truth of this time is that we are being called to collectively heal. I think most would agree that enough time has been spent pretending that we are perfect or that we are feeling good when we are not. That seems to be much of what has got us into this global mess in the first place. Now is the time to rise into authenticity which means, for many, we have to get real with the yucky things living in ourselves (in our shadow), that are not easy or pleasant. We have to train ourselves to sit with ‘what is’, taming the mind of its aversion through one breath, one move, one community connection at a time. It’s not enough to be perfect in our homes on our cushions- in fact, that isn’t too real at all. What’s real is showing up on a zoom session with your community and allowing the truth of your heart body and mind to be witnessed. This great witnessing is the medicine that we so need right now.
We do not heal in isolation.
Mother Earth is here to take some support off your shoulders. We started the movement practice by laying on and leaning into the earth – feeling her support under us…Surrendering any parts of our bodies/minds that could relinquish the holding on, the gripping, and the fear. We sank into the arms of the Mother, and let her hold our pain and tremble so we could rest.
For those of us with the privilege of being in leadership roles right now, it is up to us to soften into the truth of the moment, to unveil that which we don’t like about the moment and see it, allow it to be as it is. This is the exact requirement for those very things we don’t like to change if they are meant to. For us to change ourselves or the world we first must get real about where we are. I believe that is an opportunity of this time we are living in.
Perfectionism is harmful. It is poisonous and a lie.
Uncovering the layers of perfectionism is what sets us free from ourselves, and what actually allows connection to birth and awaken.
The reason people come to my yoga classes is because we show up to what’s REAL in the space, there is no plan, no prescription, no persona. There is raw, true community, full of tears and anger and dissonance at times and full of joy and peace and excitement at others.
To get better at being real we have to practice being real.
That is what I witnessed today in our class. It was difficult – it wasn’t a pretty packaged yoga class. It didn’t have a nice ‘ring’ to it with all the right poses and smiles and deep breaths. It had tears and anger and grief and gratitude and pain all mixed together like a soup for the soul.
Leaders, we don’t need you to be armoured. Leave that to the the many others who don’t have to capacity to take their armour off. You DO. Remove the layers of persona that keep you hidden and set yourself free on the wings of the truth. The truth is the only place that healing happens. The truth is the nourishment we are so seeking. And no the truth isn’t always kind and we don’t always like it, but realness is a healing elixir and the truth is always fucking real, you can count on that.
Feeling heavy hearted for my community today – feeling their collective pain and anger and sadness. I am with you, we are together. And I will not leave you alone there. Lean in dear ones, we must lean in to one another (through the screen or whatever we’ve got) and choose realness, right NOW.
~Be Brave enough to look in the mirror and see the true reflection of yourself.
~Be Brave enough to speak from your heart and share what’s on your heart- not what’s in your head.
~Be brave enough to stay generous during this time and filled with gratitude.
~Be Brave enough to believe that healing is possible right now, individually and collectively and that it is your responsibility to do your part in moving towards that healing.
~Be Brave enough to move towards possibility and hope versus doom and despair. This doesn’t mean you don’t feel all the feelings of this time but it does mean you take responsibility for them and don’t spew them out as a discharge for everyone else to deal with .
~Be brave enough to know that self responsibility is the ultimate spiritual practice. Owning all the parts of yourself (especially the hard ones that you don’t particularly like) and befriending your totality is the truest and deepest spiritual work.
Being a good person isn’t the work of a spiritual being. Being a real person is.
There is no time like the present for authenticity. Your anger can be transformed to action. But you have to feel that anger for you to action it in a good and useful way. There is no such thing as a bad emotion. What makes it bad is when we let it fester or we expel it and discharge it to be someone else’s (or the planet’s) problem. E-motion = energy in motion. Our feelings need to move so it’s up to us to express them, and then make a choice to move towards that which takes us to the truth of who we are and who we want to be. Yes, it’s about choices. At some point we have to begin to take authority on how we feel day to day, moment to moment. This spiritual practice is one that takes time and repetition. To start we have to learn how to feel.
That is what we do in my sessions, in fact some might argue that that is the whole point of how I teach yoga. To feel, to get real, and to integrate that which needs to be anchored and shift that which needs to be transmuted. What it leaves us with is an elevated, consolidated and more authentic version of ourselves. What the world needs is more authentic, consolidated and elevated people.
Elevated doesn’t mean we don’t have the hard feelings anymore. Elevated means we are real about what’s up for us in the moment and then we let that shit move so we can come back to our highest place again and again. This is the practice as I see it.
From my Fierce Heart to yours, Be Brave my friends.