Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reflections & Musings: Taking a break for myself.

"Begin difficult things while they are easy.
Do great things when they are small.
The difficult things of the world
Must once have been easy;
The great things
Must once have been small...
A journey of a thousand miles
Begins with one step."

Yesterday, I made a decision — I was doing too much. Rather than simply treating it as an observation, it was more of a defining moment that influenced the subsequent actions I would take. Almost half a year ago, I signed up for a 300-Hour Advanced Yoga Teacher Training with the Soul of Yoga that occurs over three intensive 10-day modules. The teachers and curriculum are phenomenal and, being the dork that I am, I am always eager to dive into mind-expanding learning. With the first module already complete, I was scheduled to begin the second series today. And then I realized, I couldn't do it... it was just too much.

The quality of Soul of Yoga's teacher training programs are unparalleled for numerous reasons, one of which is the intimacy with which you are encouraged to open your heart to an array of beautiful souls also completing the program with you. It's a worthwhile and hearty investment of time, money, brain, emotions, and Spirit. Normally, this would totally be up my alley, yet ever since I returned from Maui, I've had this gnawing feeling at my core that I'm not doing what I am meant to be doing.


"Y'know," my friend Carolyn shared with me this morning, "for most people, I would say, 'I'm sure you could make room in your life and still be able to do it!' But for you, I'm cheering because you're finally taking something off your plate!"

Carolyn's known me for 12 years now and has seen me transform from a young college graduate fleeing her past to a woman embracing her present. She's watched me hit rock bottom with my eating disorder, supported me as I picked myself up, witnessed my whirlwind journeys around the world, and opened her home to me when I was going through heartbreaks and happiness. She may very well be one of the greatest blessings of my entire adult life. So, needless to say, she's been privy to plenty of personal thoughts and outside observations of my character and drive and desires. Her celebration of the fact that I am taking time for myself to take care of what *I* need versus what anyone else's needs are, aside from external obligations and commitments, helps me to ease the guilt I feel for doing what's best for me.

In Chinese culture, my parents taught me that my own needs come last. Placing my needs first would be seen as selfish and unbecoming, especially for a woman. I was told to be subservient, deferring first to elders, then adults or anyone in a position of power, then even the foreign "white man." It always seemed that I came at the bottom of any hierarchical structure, so I learned that the only way to get my needs met was to serve everyone else first — if they were happy, I falsely believed that they would then aim to make me happy.

It's taken me all of my adult life to learn how to place myself as a priority and only recently, especially in my relationship with my beau, am I beginning to comprehend how to be explicit with my requests. I had hoped, for a long while, that someone could read my mind, similar to what a parent's role for a child often is. But, because I never got that, I continually sought it in everyone else. 

There's a delicate dance to expressing myself in the midst of someone else. We all have different desires/needs/wants and there's an art to honoring everyone involved as best as possible. If we never speak up, then the dialogue never begins. And, even when it does, there is occasionally pushback. I find that it's been important to understand my intention in order to stand by my convictions, yet also open up to opportunities I had never thought of.

Soon after I informed the Soul that I would not be able to attend this module of training, I was met with emails and phone calls offering me different alternatives, as well as informing me of potential consequences to my choice. It made everything slightly more confusing, yet encouraged me to return again and again to my original intent. From there, I was able to determine what the next best steps FOR ME would be.

If you're told all your life that you're a selfish little bugger, then it can become a complex rooted in the back your mind. Taking time for myself now is an amazing way to break the perpetuating cycle of not honoring my worth, my needs, my place in this shared life.

And, I'm grateful I'm doing so — even if it's uncomfortable and awkward and hard to do.

What areas of your life can you create more space for yourself? And, by so doing, become even more present for others?

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