The Heart of Yoga

It's a really tender thing when you finally "get it," when you finally look in the mirror and see clearly all the stories that have unearthed you from your Self.

This is the vulnerability of self-awareness.

This is the agreement we enter into when we commit to being truthful with ourselves and others.

This is the essence of healthy relationship, and it starts within you.

 

What I am learning about myself, and what I have dedicated my practice to, is how I behave in relationship. I am uncovering each day subtler layers of awareness around these deeply held, often unconscious beliefs about who I am and how the world is and what this life has in store for me. I am just getting that I have constructed my concept of love from a very deep wound and misunderstanding about the world based on that wound.

My concept of love originated from the experience of disconnection from my biological family. I am adopted and seem to have emerged into the world searching for a reliable source of nourishment- one that wouldn't disappear when I need it most.

In my tiny body lived a big belief, "What you need most isn't reliable. Love brings loss."

 

As such, nearly every intimate relationship of my life was built on this silent contract that I am inherently undeserving and will have to fight for love, I will have to prove myself worthy.

 

That wasn't my conscious mantra, it was the mantra of my unconscious behavior: isolation, anxiety, internal panic, incredible self-imposed pressure to do well in school, to look good, I began restricting my food by drastic amounts, and then I began purging almost everything I ate. In relationships I would wear myself out trying to bend the wrought iron unwillingness of my partners and wonder what I was doing wrong. The seed of this behavior has yet to be burned up - I still feel panic when I leave a commitment unfulfilled, when I need to set boundaries, when I need to say no. I have also tended to this part of myself consciously enough to feel a real strength and self-confidence in my daily life. There is a newfound understanding that changing a lunch plan doesn't make me unreliable, and speaking my truth doesn't make me disagreeable. But the most aggressive internal confrontation yet has been in love, in falling in love with a man who has forced me to reckon with my sense of unworthiness simply by seeing me as his beloved. I have never felt more worthy and I have never felt more clear, and yet it's still not totally safe to let my guard down. I've been walking around with a tin foil hat and a necklace of garlic for 34 years, and he looks at me like, "You know that's not going to help, right?"

 

I know. I know it's not going to help. I've just been doing it for so long.

 

I've believed love is only for some for so long. I've relied on self-defeating coping mechanisms for so long.

I've defaulted to being at fault for as long as I can remember. I have practiced this for my whole life.

It's not strange that it would be taking a while to untangle this very intricate chain-link knot in my heart. And that's where I feel it. I feel a bind from my stomach to my throat- a high and tight feeling in my heart and lungs, a plug in my throat keeping me from asking for exactly what I need in the moment. I don't want to need too much. I don't want to be a burden.

The self-awareness is really just the tip of the iceberg- the ingredients list if you will. It takes a concerted effort and a lot of humility to work out the right doses of effort and self-care and boundaries and softness. The work doesn't ever stop. We have to keep at it, like speaking a language we haven't lived with fully; you spend a while fumbling for the basic nouns and correct conjugations to be in the present.

For me this path takes daily nourishment of singing and cooking and dousing myself in fragrant oils and indulging in time alone, being naked, dancing, writing and watching the sky. I read myths instead of news because they remind me of what is actually true. I practice every day being my own touchstone, my own teacher, my own source of love and reverence, my own. I practice introspection and stillness every day, allowing that sense of MYself to inform my relationships, my work, my view of the world and my purpose in the world.

 

Each day reinforces my dharma in its sameness AND creative recapitulation of drama and chaos in my mind.

Each day reveals my dharma in the opportunity to choose love OR the absence of it.

Each day reveals my dharma in the gifts of confrontation AND witnessing and vulnerability.

 

So my question to you is, what are you practicing? What is that you repeatedly do and is it fulfilling your misunderstanding of yourself, or your most expressive and soulful self?

From where do you derive such a deep and sustainable sense of Self that you can let go of everything you've ever known and open yourself to all that is? I want to share my tools, which are really touchstones for you to discover your own personalized, deeply intimate tools.
 

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