15 January 2016

Reclaiming My Seat of Power

While I've been offline for a while, it hasn't been due to a lack of writing. In actuality, over the past several months, I've written more than I have in a long time. I have journals scrawled with beautiful messes of inner workings - questions, confessions, reflections, and intentions. Stream of consciousness entries turned to profound realizations about myself. I took time to retreat and travel deep within myself to excavate the parts that had been buried. For a while, I had lost touch with my true north. I'm now in a place where I feel like I'm reconnecting with my center and I'm excited to return to using Be Unleashed as an outlet to share what is revealing itself to me, as well as a forum for meaningful discussions and mutual support.

One particularly meaningful thing has changed since my last entry this past summer. I've shifted from the awareness of what being unleashed means, to the action of being unleashed in my everyday life. There was only one thing standing between my awareness and embodiment: judgement. My report card mentality, so committed to performance and some unforeseeable end results, kept me from taking the baby steps necessary to unleash little by little every day. It was a rigid, all-or-nothing mindset. I would daydream about the Unleashed tattoo that I wanted, and think "when I'm truly unleashed, I'll get it." I was stuck on the illusion of a gap between my dreams and my reality. But I have since taken on the mantra that "I want for nothing, because I can create anything." This belief takes full responsibility for my power to build and manifest anything my heart desires, as well as releases the idea that there is separation between the now and later. Time is a construct that keeps us in a perpetual state of anxiety and lack - rushing to some finish line (e.g. ‘success,’ financial freedom, marriage, weight loss) and worried we won't get there in time (e.g. by 30, in this lifetime, before others expect me to get there). I want to remind us that we can have it - whatever your 'it' is - right now. There is no want – only having. It's simply a choice of thought. You create your world. (For more information and helpful prompts on setting goals for your life, finding your mantra, and taking steps every day to love your dreams into existence, check out The Infinite Possibilities Project by Mike Dooley. I'll be sharing more about my journey with the IPP in future posts.)

An important way that I have been celebrating my unleashed state and making a concerted effort to visualize my goals and new state of being every day is my yoga practice. It's worth mentioning, however, that yoga wasn't always an outlet for this kind of transformational work for me.

I practiced Bikram yoga for years – the militant, unwavering practice in oh-my-gosh-this-can’t-be-good heat. That was the only yoga I knew. I stuck with it for about 4 years, until my body starting asking for something new, and I honored that. I see now in retrospect that Bikram perpetuated my unrealistic and unfair attachment to results and reaching the ‘full expression of the posture.’ Its mirror-centric focus and thousand verbal micro-adjustments actually disconnected me from my body and its own ability to adjust and self-regulate. I became a robot in a sense, letting the teacher's dialogue hack my mind and possess my body. I developed a harsh scrutiny of my body, feeling so disconnected and, at times, at war with its abilities. Breathing and progress didn't come easy. I've since dabbled in some other outlets for exercise and release, landing on lightly heated vinyasa classes that really allow me to drop into flow and travel inward. I've found that I am so much more at peace in my practice, and the resultant gentle encouragement creates more room in my heart and mind during and immediately after my classes. I tie my breath to my movement and let it intoxicate me and guide me to exactly where I need to be in every moment. I love myself in these classes. I don't judge - I just do. And it's in that powerful state of inner trust and release to what's possible in this moment that has made way for some deep-rooted realizations to finally surface.

The thread that emerged in my class this week is the power of vulnerability. It’s something that I have read about and preached for years – being open to love and to hurt. Being willing to feel pain so that we can feel joy. Avoiding numbing and cracking our heart spaces wide open. Brene Brown’s TED talks and books have been focal points for my personal transformation and commitment to self-awareness for years. 

The question of why people avoid vulnerability is intuitive: who wants to put themselves center stage for judgment, hurt, and disappointment when there is a perfectly cozy greenroom backstage? Invulnerability is born from fear - usually out of fear of being hurt. When we are not willing to be vulnerable, we are choosing self-preservation. But as we know, we can’t selectively numb emotions. When we cut off feeling to one part of them, we can’t feel any of them.

However, a realization came to me in yoga class the other night about my own resistance to vulnerability. I haven’t felt the active fear that would cause me to run from my emotions that I've written about before. But I'm aware of some kind of rub that keeps me from putting myself out there and speaking my Truth.

We had just come out of several heart-opening postures and were finally at the end of the class, welcomed to choose a closing posture of our choice. Something called me to supine bound angle (supta baddha konasana). I lay on my back, heels kissed together and knees relaxed open in a diamond shape. It’s a vulnerable posture - one that stirs up emotions, as it opens the hips. 

A question came to me, like a divine download, seemingly out of nowhere. “Why do I fear being vulnerable? What drives my fear of being seen?” The answer that came is not the reason that has felt resonant in the past – the fear of being hurt. For me, in this chapter, it is the fear of hurting others that often keeps me from my fullest expression. The ‘pleaser’ mentality, born from my childhood, is still something that holds me back from connecting with my intuitive wants and needs. It’s a little voice in my ear that keeps me “tame” and in-line with the expectations of others. It keeps me hyper-aware of when people want things from me and calls me to give, without consideration of my own boundaries or personal needs.

I realized that I've been afraid to say no. I’ve been resistant to taking total ownership over my feelings and to sit in my seat of power, where I honor the value of my own intuition. In the past, I have often tended towards being less direct and more wishy-washy with people to avoid having to make a decision one way or the other. Internally, I always know what I want and it's not hard for me to make up my mind when I'm in an unleashed state. But if it’s a decision that I think will be unfavorable to others or is contrary to what others want from me, I feel strong resistance to clearly asserting it.

Keeping it in the gray area is dangerous and most definitely always leads to more hurt. Ironically, in an effort to protect others from undesirable information, I end up creating more of what I’m trying to avoid. Do you ever feel that way? Like you need to protect people from the truth because you know it's not what they want to hear? While it might feel like the best option in the moment, it does two dishonorable things. 1.) It tells your intuition that you're not interested in what it has to say. It denies your Truth and contributes to a practice of self-sacrifice and numbing your own desires. Not only is that a disempowering place to be in temporarily, but it also starts to severe your connection with your true north. If repeated enough, eventually you won't be able to hear your own desires anymore. 2.) It disrespects the other person(s) involved. They deserve honesty, and it will hurt more later when the Truth comes out, as it always does. 

We can choose to accept that we are not responsible for other people’s feelings about how we live our lives. It is not our work to manage how our personal choices please or displease others. We are here to act in accordance with the divine - not with what a parent, professor, friend, or other bystander may expect from us. When we are listening to our dreams and desires born from within, and are acting from a place of integrity in pursuit if our unique purpose, we are in divine alignment. Not only do we feel good, but we become examples for others. There's nothing more beautiful or inspiring than a person who wholeheartedly owns their soul purpose and acts from a place of love and deep inner knowing. 

Our only true responsibility is to be honest, have integrity and compassion. Choose vulnerability at all times and with everyone. That means, dropping your armor - showing up open-heartedly; being honest with yourself and others; allowing yourself to feel the full scale of emotions. That’s not "selfish," "hurtful," "weak," "shameful," or whatever else our ego or other people may sneer at us. It's actually the most courageous, unleashed thing you can do for yourself and others. It honors you, the divine inspiration that flows through you, and everyone around you. 

Today, ask yourself how you may be hiding out or holding back. You aren't doing yourself or any of us any favors by armoring up. Own your Truth and do you. That's when the real magic happens...
"Don't wake me, I'm not dreaming."

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