Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Getting what you need doesn't mean it's a positive experience.

"There are the waves and there is the wind, 
seen and unseen forces.
Everyone has these same elements in their lives,
the seen and unseen, karma and free will."

It's hard to believe that things come when you're ready and that the lessons you're meant to learn appear when you're prepared to learn them. Patience isn't something that we're taught growing up in the instant gratification society of the West, where smart phones bring us exactly what we want to know when we want to know it, and the Internet keeps us updated through photos and posts. 

I saw Barry in person today (we chat every day by phone) and while catching up on how the process of releasing has been for me, I felt such gratitude to be able to do this mind-body work with him. I wished this is what the psychotherapy sessions in my 20s were like when I was undergoing eating disorder therapy, where the awkward 50-minute structured sessions could be replaced by the more compassionate blend of pointed feedback, but I know that I couldn't have comprehended the things Barry and I we were talking about now in the ways that we were discussing them, if I hadn't gone through my journey just as it happened. 

In my mid-20s, I wouldn't have had any idea what Barry meant when he spoke of the energetic vibrations of Sanskrit words or how the lower chakras are made of negative energies and emotions. I wouldn't have known how to sift and sort through what makes me the person I am now versus what I was programmed to believe through my upbringing. I wouldn't have understood what he meant when he said that I'm in the midst of a spiritual detoxification, where I can finally comprehend what I actually need and want, where I'm able to make mistakes and be upset and not feel guilt associated with these emotions. 

One of the things my ex would get upset about is the fact that it seemed everything was a big deal to me. I didn't differentiate between a small victory and a big one; I didn't discern between whether he told me feedback or a person I just met did. It all ended up in the same place. I would have the same highs when I got assigned an amazing travel article as much as I did getting a compliment from a student in class. I would pay as much attention to an intuitive person I just met sharing insight on my behavior as a friend who's known me for 15 years. It bothered the shit out of him. 

"That's because you're so skewed towards the masculine energy right now, and for you, that's not natural."

I looked at him, confusedly. 

"You're a woman," he stated. Then paused. "Well, look at you. Really, take a look." 

I looked down at myself and still had no idea what he was saying.
"Look at what you're wearing," he continued. "You have rudraksha beads, a bracelet, additional pieces of decorations on your wrist. You have a scarf on and a sweater. You're wearing earrings. All of those are not essential. You put them on, because you're a woman and you move with your feelings, the seasons, the earth. That's the feminine energy. 
Look at what I'm wearing. I have a watch on, because it tells time. It's functional. I'm wearing the clothes that I'm wearing, because I got the nod of approval from my wife when I walked out the door, otherwise who knows what I would have put on, as long as it covered my body. Look at my socks... they're plain white socks. Men want things to all be the same. We want to get to the point, we're goal-oriented and accomplishment-driven. We want to be the best. The feminine energy is about diversity and flow. It's all about change. Right now, your energy is off balance and you're skewed towards the masculine. But look at you — you're a woman."

I teach in yoga class all the time that if we're career driven, then we have a lot of masculine energy within us, whether we're male or female. The yang energy is what drives us, it's the action. In order to be successful, we need that push. And, like I noted today on my Facebook page, I have been running nonstop to achieve all that I thought would make me worthy in this world.

When I brought up questions about my career, about what beliefs and admonitions this triggers within me as I'm pursuing my dreams, I mentioned that I should just have more faith and trust in the Universe. Barry stopped me and pointed out that there is a difference between self-effort and grace, which is what the Bhagavad Gita is all about. 
"The faith that you're talking about, the principles that you're touting about believing that the Universe will just take care of everything for you, well in a way, that's true. But the principles don't necessarily connect to your heart and human unfolding. We live in a society where this idealism is taken out of context so that spirituality actually becomes delusional. If we actually lived in an ideal world, then it'd be one-sided. The physical reality of our existence would disappear. The plane that we live on requires duality, a positive and negative energy. It requires polarization. You need to have all the emotions, the ups and downs, the mistakes. This is what makes up our human existence. 
The problem is that we get presented this idea of 'perfection,' by people who haven't attained enlightenment. The teachers they've learned from don't even experience that perfection. They have thoughts and they're not happy all the time. If you go visit an ashram, the people in there can be downright miserable. There are no great beings who say, 'Don't cry, don't get mad.' The risk that we're facing today is that most people don't stay on the path for long enough to see the big picture. They buy into this idea that they need to be perfect, and when they can't be, they give up. That's just so dangerous.
You have to understand that getting what you need doesn't mean that it's going to be positive. Karma is not necessarily a positive thing. To get what you need, it may actually going through a horrible experience to teach you what you need to know. In yoga, we learn about tapas, that it is required to burn through your samskaras. The tapas moves the energy into the resistance to show you what you need to know to grow. It is an intense energy. Remember, the Universe provides what you need, and you have no idea what that could be.
Spirituality is the process of getting you to be yourself, not to be a positive person all the time. It's about being okay with making mistakes and to really connect you to all of who you are. When you really connect to yourself, you can have negative emotions and realize it's all right, unless the admonitions come in, which then prevent you from being you. All admonitions create enormous distrust in every area of your life — even the idea that you should always be positive, that will cause you to distrust the hell out of yourself when you realize you can't do that."
The spirituality he was speaking of is here to remind me of who I am and this journey of discovery. He explained that the lower chakras are all made of negative energy and negative thoughts and negative emotions. The higher chakras are made of positive energy and vibrations. Therefore, we can't possibly have a positive experience without first going through the negative. We actually need to go through the negative to heal and move up within ourselves and the world.

After he told me all this, I felt a great sense of relief. It seemed so simple that spirituality is all about acceptance in the end. And, that a lot of what I have been taught and have been reading and have been immersed in is this false idea of trying to change yourself from thinking human thoughts and having human experiences to trying to become this divine and pure and never-makes-a-mistake ideal. This just makes us feel badly about ourselves. It's why so many people don't practice yoga — because they see the perfect figures of certain teachers on the covers of certain publications and then immediately feel less than. 

We project so much that other people's lives are untainted, because each and every one of us would like to believe that that's possible, that if we could always be on our best behavior, then nothing bad would ever happen. We wouldn't ever get sick, we wouldn't ever get our hearts broken, we wouldn't ever have to worry about anything. Essentially, we wouldn't die. But that's just not true.

Barry is one of the first teachers I've worked with who's shown me what it really means to be a divine being undergoing a human experience. Everywhere else I've looked and learned has either taught me out loud or at a murmur that there is still a level of perfection we should be aiming for, and every moment we can't get there, is another moment that affirms how flawed we truly are. He is teaching me that where we are right now is exactly where we are meant to be, and the more accepting we can become of every experience, the more we can have a congruent response that comes from the truth of our being. That is enlightenment.

He quoted Mark Twain who said, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." The truth is simple, it's when you lie that you have to remember what you've said. What you've done. Because in lies, lies complications. 

The truth is so simple. We are who we are. And to know what that means on the deepest of all levels is what I'm working on. Because everything else that I've piled on top of that? Well, to be frank, it's all bullshit. 

And I'm tired of lying.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A new definition of performance anxiety.

"The pursuit of perfection, then,
is the pursuit of sweetness and light."
~Matthew Arnold

I don't know if it's because I'm Asian, which is how the idea of perfection became bred into my being, or because I learned at a very young age that positive affirmations are closely tied with overachieving, but there has never been a day or night that I have not thought, "I could've done better." 

Turns out, that's an exhausting way to live. To think that an 'A' is not good enough, that an 'A+' is better. To think that my existence is not good enough, but that I must always be an enhanced version of who I am to be loved. 

So, I'm driven. And, I'm tired.

During my mind-body phone call with Barry today, I explained how the work is happening on my end. I thought I was doing great, albeit feeling plenty of unpleasant emotions and behavioral side-effects in the meanwhile. And, within a few minutes, he pointed out how I'm still entrenched in old habits. 
"You could've called or texted at any time, but you didn't," he gently reminded me. "I'm here for you, yet you still feel like you have to do this all on your own."
And, here I was, thinking that I was actually relying on him. 
"Don't be the 'good girl,'" he's been telling me all along. "Stop trying to 'do it right.' Don't let your mind do this. Feel the feelings. The psychology won't get it out."
Certain habits are truly hard to break. I know. I struggled with eating patterns — and still sometimes do — that don't serve me, but are so difficult to step away from. My mind, my ego, just won't let that go. This thinking that if I can control how my body looks, then the rest of the world will be okay. It's just like with worrying; we always think that something good will come out of it, as though the intention we put behind being concerned about something one way or another is going to change the outcome somehow, even though within, we realize that we don't have control and worrying will do no good. I know to the core of my being, that I'm done with it. Both the eating patterns and the worry, yet it's like I've walked through a giant spiderweb where the tendrils are still vaguely there, just barely, sticky, invisible, present.

There's a light/breath/eye-movement technique that we're working with and I mentioned to him that it's causing me to feel nauseated. He asked me to demonstrate how I've been doing it, and gave me suggestions on what a better technique would be. He also noted that I have no idea if my body is energetically releasing the effects of the eating disorder that my body battled with for the better part of a a decade. I hadn't thought about that — in this time that I've been doing energy work, I hadn't really thought about helping myself to heal on all levels from the effects of starvation, bingeing, and purging.  
"I've been studying scripture, yoga, chanting," Barry continued. "I've spent decades learning from gurus and being in study groups. It is absolutely delusional to believe that we need to be these pure beings. Nowhere in scripture does it say that, nowhere are these learnings teaching us to be phony or fake, to stuff what's actually going on in order to be pure. This is why there's divine grace and karma.  
If you study the stories that are actually told, you'll notice that a lot of these gods and goddesses were sons-of-bitches at one time or another. Shiva cut off the head of her own son! And she was Divine Consciousness in manifestation!  
You're in an industry with all these New Age teachings where they tell us us that we need to shun everything and be perfect to be pure, but that's not at all what it's about. It's about believing that you are Divine just as you are right now. If you look at the history of great humans, they were all screw-ups at one point or another. It wouldn't be called learning if you got it right the first time."
I quieted on the phone. 
"This, this energy right now," he observed, "This is you being congruent. For all that you're going through, this is the real you. That upbeat presentation you do? That's not you being congruent with who you are right now. Allow yourself to be here in it. Let things come out. Have your feelings, have your moods, and have them be acceptable to you. When you let this happen, everything else becomes congruent, and you become more congruent. This isn't about pretending, unless things are genuinely good. This is about being yourself. You are more lovable the more real you are, because that is what there is to love."
"And one more thing, work on the performance thing. Who are you performing for? You're not performing for me, because I don't care if it takes you five minutes or five months to go through this work. There are no prizes, no points, no penalty. You know who you're performing for. You love yourself, you always have and always will. You don't care about performing for you, because you're just loving and joy. But ask yourself, who are you really performing for? Because performance is a big thing for you. To do it right. Mistakes are the ways that we grow. Relax. You're doing great and you're exactly where you're supposed to be."
I think it's amazing how in just a few moments on the phone with him, Barry can point out all these ways that my mind likes to deceive me. All these ways that I am falling into traps that were set up a long time ago. This work came at exactly the right time for me, as I'm feeling fragmented in various parts of my life and extremely uncomfortable at how all the pieces are going to come together. But, I was recently told not to worry, that if I look at every element of my life as a giant puzzle and bring all the pieces closer together, the gel that will help hold everything in one cohesive picture if forming. And pretty soon, I'll know exactly what that is.

So, I ask for grace to know what to do. Or, more accurately, how to be. Let me be in my truth and from there, please let it illuminate everything else.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Last day of business coaching... and what have I learned?

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs;
ask yourself what makes you come alive.
And then go and do that.
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
~Attributed to Howard Thurman

If I look back on my life, there have been a lot of things that I’ve been involved in, paths I’ve attempted to pursue to figure out my purpose in life and determine where I can shine most brightly to be of the most beneficial impact as part of the greater good.

I don’t believe that this is an ego-driven kind of thing, although there are certainly elements of my past mixed in with the present, as in, I was told frequently while growing up that I wasn’t good enough, so I’ve spent my conscious moments as a teen up until now aiming to supersede expectations, where being average was simply unacceptable. I used to look for recognition and outside affirmation, but now, it’s more that I must — without question — live my truth. Living any other way feels suffocating and intolerable, as though I’m covered in swaths of an incredibly itchy fabric I’m allergic to, that’s causing hives on my body and my throat to close up.

When I’m displeased, I do one of two things: I shut down and become very noticeably silent, or you can see all of my feelings on my face. Oftentimes, it’s both blended together.

Over the past few years, I’ve moved from working with corporate clients in marketing to freelancing, then to travel writing where I’ve lived, volunteered and worked around the world. I became a yoga teacher and a Reiki Master practitioner. I built a Karma Yoga program to bring free classes and services to underserved populations in the San Diego area. I built a private wellness business and led corporate classes. I began to blend my strategic marketing and copywriting services with my wellness focus. And now, here I am, in a new space and a new place in my life to begin another new adventure.

As long as I can see everything as an adventure, opportunities to learn more about myself, I won’t feel like there was any wasted time or divergences or distractions that took me away from what, somewhere deep inside, I had always known what I wanted to do.

Write.

About what? Who’s going listen to me? Who’s going to read what I write and feel that there’s any value in it?

That would be doubt. It happens when we embark on the unknown, because there are chances that things could go as right as they could go wrong. But, here’s where trusting in oneself and having faith come into play. Doubt is just the shadow side of belief, and just like we learn in yoga, there is both the moon and the sun, and one truly cannot exist without the other. Balance. Not good, nor bad, just an interplay to observe and be mindful of.

This is kind of how I look at fear, as well. I can feel scared as all hell that things will go to crap, or I can flip it into excitement for what’s to come. I believe that living on the precipice of that anxiety/butterflies space is what propels us to try harder, to see bigger, to color outside the lines and find that somehow, along the way, we created a beautiful masterpiece with colors and shades and hues only we could have blended. It’s like branding your very own Pantone chips for others to include in their palettes as well.

Things aren’t all hunky dory over here, as I am continually greeted by experiences that both shock and don’t surprise me at all. I have stressors like everyone else does — finances, love, health, etc. and onwards — but I guess what I’ve learned along the way is that I truly do have a choice and that I am filled with more support in my life than I can even fathom.

The other day, as I was worried about how I was being perceived and what I could be doing better or differently, I flipped it around and started owning the idea that I control my present moment. I began to write a list of what I would ideally like to have happen in this situation, asking the Universe for every minor and major detail to come true. Through that process, I gained a lot of clarity and ended it with, “This or something better.” Because sometimes, maybe I really don’t know what’s best and there is something even better in store for me, as long as I’m not closing off and open to all possibilities.

And, instead of assuming, I just started being honest with the people in my life. I started asking questions and expressing how it was for me and having faith that the ones who really love me will hold space and have a healthy interchange. They did!

I talked to my business coach the other day and admitted that building my private yoga and Reiki clientele is great, but it’s not my passion in the end. It took me almost six months (or longer) to realize this and I was disappointed that I hadn’t come across it earlier, so that the time we’ve been working together could have been devoted to this, rather than that.

“Six months is a blip in the big picture, Judy,” he told me. “Some people take years to figure this out, and it’s so important that you gained this clarity. Now, what would you like to do about it?”

Here’s where nervousness came into play.

“I just feel like it’s weird that I’ve been a professional writer all of this time, but somehow, writing about these things that I care about deeply suddenly has me feeling like a total novice. Who’s going to listen to me?”

He asked questions about what the true essence is of what I’m aiming to bring across, distilling everything into a pitch, just like we would in marketing. What would make me happy? What am I good at doing? How can I turn this into a viable business?

My coach works with a New York Times bestselling author who now earns much more than he does in a few short years.

“It’s possible,” he’s telling me. My dreams are indeed possible.

So, over the next couple of days and likely weeks and months, I’m going to meditate on these questions and see how I can greet fear with a smile and move forward anyway. I’ve already been through some tough nuggies, like standing up to someone who became a bully in my intimate relationship and figuring out how to remove the toxicity from my life; relying upon the kindness of my friends as I couch surfed my way to transitioning into a new healthy and peaceful and sweet home with housemates who have quickly become newfound confidantes; and saying ‘yes’ to the right opportunities, ‘no’ to the ones that don’t serve me, and having patience to be okay with saying ‘maybe’ to the ones that are unfolding. 

It’s been a whirlwind. And I guess in the big scheme of things, that’s how the Universe helps me to find my calm, by being in the eye of the storm and knowing that no matter what, I will always have me and my faith that everything is, has always been, and ever will be, okay.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reflections & Musings: Do I have what it takes to embrace my power?

"It takes courage to grow up 
and become who you really are."
~e.e. cummings

This mind-body program I'm entering into called "Releasing the Past" is kicking my mind and intellect out of the way to focus on my subconscious, where all of my patterns first began. This primary brain exists within every one of us, and helped to form our identities based on the fact that we were sponges absorbing everything spoken and unspoken by our guardians and environments — all before the age of seven. 

I've learned that human beings are the only animals on this planet who do not have an instinctual understanding of who we are and how to survive at birth. As babies, we're wholly dependent upon our caretakers to help us live, and by the luck of the draw, we either had conscious parental figures to create the archetypes of how we take care of our selves (mothers) and how our relationships with others develop (fathers), or we had less than ideal individuals showing us how to navigate our ways in the world. Without a choice in the matter, we were along for the ride.

Now, I have an opportunity to go back and reprogram everything in a way that enables me to live my truth now. Either unfortunately or fortunately, my parents were not those conscious individuals, but I don't blame them anymore, which was perhaps something I resolved in psychotherapy, or something that came about after witnessing my parents evolve over the years. The developments and acknowledgements both my mother and father have made about their mistakes is a testament to the fact that you really are never too old to change or to make amends.

The question now becomes, do I have what it takes to truly heal and embrace my power? 

Initially, I'd say yes. I've powered through huge hurdles in my life and know that the will exists within me to thrive. Yet, going through just the beginnings of this "Releasing the Past" work has made me realize how terrified I am to revisit the experiences and relationships that contributed so substantially to an all-consuming battle with various versions of eating disorders, as well as making choices in relationships and career that kept me tamped down in darkness.

It's forcing me to look at the effects of my upbringing, which I thought I'd already processed. And, it's bringing deep clarity on the difference between healing versus coping. Similar to what my business coach said about affirmations being "icing on a shit pie," Barry (the mind-body expert I'm working with) points out that affirmations and this quest for spirituality can indeed be coverings on ingrained beliefs, so that there's always some sort of mismatch or "lack of congruency." Basically, I'm battling myself at the very core.

And, this is coming from a woman who's dedicated her adult life to being "better" through healing modalities and greater learnings. Am I running, running, running as hard as I can to get to where I think I want to be? Have I ever really turned around and put my hands up, standing firm on new ground that my past templates cannot possibly dictate my future any longer?

"Y'know, I notice that you're a really joyful person, Judy. You laugh a lot," Barry told me the other day. "I don't doubt that you are happy, but it does make me wonder if this isn't perhaps a coping technique? That because your mother was so dark and bitter, you did everything you could to be the exact opposite? I ask this, because sometimes your reaction to the things we talk about aren't quite congruent."

Every time I see my craniosacral healer, he says in a thick Scottish brogue, "Now, I'm going to say something, and if it feels like it fits, great. If it doesn't, just let it go." And what I learned in yoga teacher training is that if something is true for you, it rings with an unmistakable sound in your body and soul. I couldn't help but think more upon what Barry said.

During high school, it seemed that each and every morning, my mother would berate me as she drove me to school, telling me about all the things that I was doing wrong and how horrible of a person I was. 12 minutes later, we would be pulling up to the front of Beverly Hills High and I would be on the verge of tears, a huge unmovable lump in my throat. I'd get out of the car, walk through the front doors of school, and a friend would come say, "hello." Right when that happened, I'd smile the tears away and not speak of what had just happened. I became really good at pretending.

When I took an acting class, just for the fun of it, in my mid-20s, I'd get great feedback from my fellow classmates. "You're a natural," they would say. "You're so good at this!" And in my head, I would think that I had at least 25 years of practice. I could be whoever you wanted me to be, without you saying a word, because I became so good at reading your body language and intuiting what you needed to make you happy, that I internally shape-shifted to fit your vibe. I came to believe that if I made you happy, you would in turn not do anything to harm me. This is how I learned to watch out for my parents preparing to fight, how to duck out of the way, or put on a show, so that they would become distracted enough that maybe, for just another few minutes, they would forget what they were so angry about in order to eventually not take it out on me or my siblings.

When I finally arrived at psychotherapy for my eating disorder in my mid-to-late 20s, my therapists would tell me that they needed to be on their toes, because I would tell them exactly what they wanted to hear for them to think that I was getting better. It was such a seamless process that even professionals had a hard time deciphering what was real and what was my way of asking to be accepted and loved.

"Who would you be if you didn't have the archetypes that were set for you by your mother and your father?" Barry asked.

Suddenly, I was lost. I thought that being on this yogic path, I've been learning exactly who I am for years. I know intuitively when something is right and when it is not the right fit for me. But here I was, being asked who I would be if I could be who I am from scratch. And, I wasn't sure what to say. Would I actually aim to be this happy all the time? Would I truly devote my life to inspiring healing and joy in others if I didn't know what it was like to suffer and not have a way out for so long? 

We learn in yoga that your soul chooses to come here, to do what it is meant to do as part of its mission in this lifetime to burn off karma and samskaras. We learn to thank those who challenge us the most, because they are what is bringing us closer to enlightenment. To that end, we can thank our parents for volunteering to be the bodies that brought our souls into existence and that they did what they did, because it made us who we are today.

But is this who I want to be? Why am I still filled with doubt that I am worthy and lovable? It doesn't matter how many friends tell me what my positive attributes are, or how many students come to me with compliments for my teaching abilities. At the end of the day, I am with me. As far as I have come from where I once was, I still choose to be in relationships that treat me disrespectfully and I still choose to live in the shadow of my fullest potential. I have not yet owned my power, my beauty, my sexuality, my heart, my humor, my soul, my spirit, my entire being. 

I keep giving my power away.

And that is where Barry comes in, to ask me if that's really what I want to keep doing from now on. Do I want to keep allowing others to dictate my present? Do I really need anyone else to tell me what is good for me, to give me permission for being me, for giving input on what will add to my life and what will detract from it? Do I still need someone to affirm what resonates with me as truth versus something I feel like I "should" be doing? 

It is amazing how much my mind has taken over my existence. My intellect powers everything. When I was in the midst of eating disorder recovery, I told my therapist that I felt like my family and I were living on a castle with a moat around it, and that it was taking everything I had to try to let the drawbridge down, so that I could leave. And yet, even when I finally got to that point, I couldn't. As crappy as my upbringing was, walking away meant leaving everyone behind. And, this was both in the actual physical present, as well as the ghosts of who we all once were. I just didn't know if I could do it. For my healing, I knew I had to, but my heart was still attached, waiting for approval and affection. 

Here I am again, still making my way around the castle. Trying to get that drawbridge to stay down. The way out is open like never before and I'm standing right in the midst of a choice between staying behind or moving forward. This is what it's like when you have a hard time letting go. This standing still between two worlds where I am an adult woman feeling like there's a whole life to live that I'm not taking full advantage of, as well as being a little girl tugged back towards the life that never happened the way she had hoped.

Do I have what it takes to embrace all of my power? Can I overcome my ego the way that Barry keeps reminding me is the hardest battle that I will ever fight? 

"You are now Arjuna," he says. 

I am a warrior. 

I don't know how the battles will look, and I've already lost a few this weekend. But I'm picking myself up. And that's the point, that the only thing that will stop me is to stop, and that it's time to let go of this idea of "being the good girl" and doing everything right. 

Being the good girl never saved me. Being the fighter, did.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Reflections & Musings: Releasing the past. Finally.

"What you need to know about the past
is that no matter what has happened,
it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. 
And this moment is the moment you can choose to make everything new.
Right now."
-Author Unknown

I haven't written for awhile for numerous reasons, one of which is that I haven't had access to internet in my wonderful new home. That, and the fact that I've been busy... breaking up, moving out, moving in, meeting new people, and redefining my career. Just to name a few of the happenings as of late. 

The events toward the end of my relationship were both completely shocking and not at all surprising. It became abundantly clear that while we had set an intention of leaving on amicable, kind and loving terms, what actually transpired was that I found myself in a toxic situation, which my closest friends encouraged me to immediately leave. 

As always, the Universe was setting things up in a perfect order, so that I would first see my craniosacral healer, Gary, who would tell me that if, for any reason, it became clear that it was no longer healthy for me to wait out the remainder of September in the house I shared with my beau until my new apartment was available, I had the freedom to leave. 

I looked at Gary, brows furrowed, "I'm sure it'll be okay. It's not the greatest situation, but I'm sure it'll be fine."

It wasn't.

After a seemingly inane encounter with my beau at the workplace we shared, our interactions became a clear message for me to get out. I realized Gary was right and the best thing to do for my mental and emotional well-being was to pack up my things a week early and move immediately. The yelling and intolerable responses I was constantly greeted with were chipping away at my psyche, and perhaps because I had been "in it" for so long, my perspective had become skewed to the point that I needed other people to tell me how to preserve my health. 

I saw Gary a week later and told him the events that transpired, to which he said, "I knew that things wouldn't end well, but that wasn't my place to tell you. When you first came in, I hadn't seen you in a few months, and it looked like you aged tremendously. Now, just a short while later, I feel like you're returning to the you who I knew before. Your light is coming back."

I couch surfed for a week and relied upon the kindness of the amazing people in my life. Those who know me well understand how absolutely independent I am, and how hard of a time I have allowing others to help take care of me even though I love offering them tender loving attention. Every night throughout the week of transition, I had multiple offers of places to stay. These friends cooked me meals, gave me keys to their homes, listened to me, played with me outdoors in nature, and kept my spirits up by being the rational voice that I seem to have lost in the almost two years I spent with my beau. These unbelievably incredible people showed me such love that I had no idea was brimming around me to such phenomenal depths and degrees. 

"It's so easy to love you," my friend Quyen said the other day. "One day, a switch will flip and you'll finally see yourself the way that everyone else around you sees you. Then, you'll go on ego trip!"

My new housemates — before my lease was signed and official — allowed me to move my things into the garage and even offered for me to stay until I could actually move in. They stayed in contact with me, helped clean the house from top to bottom, and then on the day when everything was finally in my new abode, went with me to get margaritas and take in a beachside sunset to celebrate. These women I now live with are from Brazil, they're beautiful, full of life and fun-loving, and absolutely encourage me to love myself more than ever in every respect.

So, why is it that I still feel a little off? I'm happier than I've been in a very long time, but things are seemingly unsettled and when I'm in this limbo phase — these uncertain parts of life — I crave an answer. Something with finality to propel me into the next thing. But, I trust that this is exactly where I'm supposed to be. Rather than beat myself up for feeling like a lazy loafer, I'm seeing it as an opportunity for patience, introspection and self-love.

It's just confusing to me, because I'm no longer emotionally attached to my beau and I feel like I've adjusted quite well through everything that's happened. Yet, when I took a Restorative Yoga class recently, each time I almost fell asleep amidst the bolsters and the relaxing ambiance, I would see angry faces appear before me screaming and shouting. I left class feeling completely bothered and riddled with annoyance, proving once again, yoga brings up exactly what's happening within you if you're willing to look at it. 

Is it because I'm going through a whammy of changes, any one of which would be a huge stressor for someone? Is it because, when I went back to pick up my final possessions, I was greeted by an extremely disrespectful situation I could not have predicted, but at the same time, knew all along? Is it because I'm grieving not only a dissolved relationship, but also the realization that a couple of the paths I've been traveling full-speed on are diverging in ways that'll undoubtedly be beneficial for me, yet which entail a period of adjustment for this change in course? 

It's the perfect time to begin a program that was recommended to me by a dear bodyworker friend, one in which I'll be delving into my subconscious to release the patterns that were imprinted upon me by the adults in my life. All of this is so that I can be fully present as the person I am now, not as the stories that were told to me before I was old enough to discern what was truth and what was delusion. 

"The greatest battle ever fought," Barry, the PhD and HHP I'll be working with, explained to me, "is one that appears in every culture on this planet. Some say it's the fight between good and evil, light and dark. In the Bhagavad Gita, it's the battle of Arjuna. For every human being, it's the fight between the subconscious and the conscious or logical mind. It's the battle between truth and delusion."

I'm excited and nervous for what's going to come up in the next six weeks I've dedicated to this program. Barry cautioned that this process will dredge up things internally and externally that will provide opportunities for my greatest learning, so to be extremely careful with myself and the decisions I'll be making. I've warned my housemates about it, and they're extremely supportive. How often do you have the opportunity to really go deep within and de-program your learnings to live as the healthiest version of you now? 

We'll see what comes up. It'll bring me right up to the holidays, which is why I asked Barry if he thought it would be a bad idea to plan it this way, so that I'll be in the midst of this program when Thanksgiving comes around.

He did a little calculation in his head. "Actually," he reassured me, "that'll be perfect. You'll have done the crux of the work by then, and should already be seeing substantial transformations in your life, so this'll be a great opportunity to interact with your family in different ways." 

I'm doing my best to be present, to be in this moment with as much mindfulness as I can muster, because I am writing my way into the path that has spoken to my heart all along. Through my words, my actions, and how I choose to live my life from this point forward, I'm releasing the past, relinquishing worry about the future, and being here as the me I am learning how to be.