I think often about how great it would be to have "degrees" for living. Some of my most challenging accomplishments are just making it through the tough shit of life! I feel a lot that I can relate to my clients because I've struggled; I've felt the depth of my soul and sat in the darkness for a while.
We really should have badges for life experiences. You could have a whole jean jacket filled with life battles. This would create connection with just a wink or a nod of the head. People could walk past each other, spot a badge and just offer a knowing smile as you walk by, whispering, "I've been there too, my friend." What a heartwarming interaction. So many times I wish I could share my life easily with people - without the fear of getting a crazy-eye, or the look of shock and someone's jaw dropping.
Maybe my badge club would help people to acknowledge their life challenges and in return, be able to hold space when someone is going through something hard. People don't always know how to "hold the space" for others. The space of not fixing, not interrupting, just loving. This is space where you've got to be comfortable with your own shit to hold somebody else's.
I'm finishing up yoga teacher training and there is a part of me that really wants to flunk out and I only have one more session left. Isn't that weird? I think it's because I let myself be vulnerable - more than I really wanted; more than I thought anyone should. I spoke up, cried uncontrollably and said "yes" to something I didn't know I even wanted or needed. It is scary to let those old demons out.
I think the hardest part is that I always see myself as different from others. Well, at least that's been the story I've told myself.
There were multiple times that I was a heaping mess, so NOT what I was expecting. I thought "I'm just learning to stand in front of class and call poses" but I see now that the poise of a great yoga teacher is their depth without saying a word about it. It's an aura that radiates and that's what we feel and trust.
One of the most powerful and breaking-down points for me in my training was doing a yoga practice that correlated to all the chakras, which I had little consciousness about.
Words were spoken methodically and with intention as we practiced different poses.
The first words roared through me like thunder, bringing me to my knees but without even moving. The words felt like they were bellowing, "I am safe!" through my soul. It shattered the illusion of thinking I was safe as a child, when I didn't feel safe.
Each teaching built on the next, being affected by the one before. I saw areas of my life that I couldn't transform, flash through my bones. I really wanted to collapse to the floor and cover my ears; I thought I couldn't take it anymore. Tears rolled silently down my cheeks and onto my mat, and I feared that my crying would soon become highly audible. Thankfully, they didn't, but I felt every chakra and trauma speak to me. I was locked and bound in so many areas that I had no idea. The release was more intense than I knew.
I think one of the big epiphanies was that in my life, I minimize what has happened to me. I think it was "no big deal; I haven't really experienced that much compared to others". But actually, I've dealt with a lot and it isn't something I just share with anyone. The chakra yoga practice rattled my bones, my up-bringing, my core beliefs and all my "badges of honor" I don't always claim. I realize that I've been through a lot and adopted many of my beliefs that are not my own. They came from wounded souls, passed down to me: beliefs of inadequacy, trauma, the unloved souls, shame, broken hearts, the loss of losing a loved one, the need to be tough, to keep it all together, to do for others what they could do themselves, to be un-wounded by it all, and to hold the front lines while the war is raging.
The awakening of my tattered soul manifested physically in a migraine, my area of release. It rises slowly and creeps in till I can't deny it anymore - just like the yoga practice. It knocked me down, and I still feel knocked down. I feel like I've crumbled. I'm learning I'm maybe not who I thought I was, but who I was told I was. This internal deep work is practice for building up to who I'm meant to be, and what I want. Not so pleasant now, but worth it!
Oh, how I see why it is easier to deny, to stay away from self-reflection and stick in our same old patterns, but deep down I could never compromise myself like that. Living that way is drenched with anxiety, never getting what I want, and playing the martyr role over and over. I've been there, trying to drown out the past that I kept reliving over and over. I now can stand for something different.
A pose I love is called tree pose, because it feels like you are tapping your potential and owning your power. I can ponder even deeper, "What has all my trauma and hardships gotten me?" A depth to life.
Oh, how I wish we told our full stories more often. Not to rehash our troubles or to punish others, but to show our strength. To create awe for one another because there are so many people walking around with a story to share. Our stories build us, our stories connect us, our stories give us depth, our stories show our humanness. I'm learning not to be ashamed of the past or the ones that have hurt me. But BE in awe of who I am!
Yoga teacher training has helped me honor what has gone on in my life, even though the whole story wasn't shared. But I know it. Tonight, I place my hand on my heart to honor what I've experienced.
Maybe one of these nights we will sit at a sewing machine making badges representing our triumphs and life battles, sharing our past experiences as a way to release our stories. They'll no longer bind our souls, but free us to connect with one another.
BEET IT SMOOTHIE
I love the deep reddish hue of this smoothie. It brings a smile to my face and reminds me of the power of our heart. This smoothie can be a reminder to honor yourself and showing your heart to others. Too often we are guarded and want to avoid our vulnerabilities but that is where life really begins. Sit down, sip your smoothie, share with one another and honor each others life badges. Life isn't always easy but it is better when we drink smoothies and be with one another.
1 1/2 cups of frozen mixed berries (I used strawberries, blackberries and blueberry mixture)
Half of one beet, peeled and chopped
1-2 cups of Good Belly tropical green (You can use almond milk, coconut milk or regular milk if you'd prefer)
1 teaspoon of chia seeds
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon wheat grass powder (You can omit this)
2 semi-rip bananas
1. Add all the ingredients to the blender. I usually use at least 1 1/2 cups of Good Belly so it is on the thinner side. Blend until smoothie.
2. Pour in a glass and enjoy.
This is even a big hit with my toddler! Enjoy this vibrant smoothie as a start to your day and a way to honor all your triumphs in life. Remember we've all been there. It may not be exactly the same experiences but we've all had many triumphs that aren't seen on the surface. Cheers to you!