That sounds bad. It feels bad to admit. But who defines “bad,” again? Oh yeah…me.
I mean what I said, but I don’t mean it in a bad way. “Bad,” by my own definition, is something that is devoid of love. “Bad” is lacking in passion, truth, heart, selflessness. I realize I just defined “bad” as lacking in selflessness, and the title of this essay contains the word “selfish.”
Bear with me.
Selflessness must be extended to the Self, as well as to others. It’s the same as when someone says, “If one cannot love oneself, how could one love another?” That’s also how selflessness works…as well as compassion, generosity, understanding, so on and so forth…therein lies the rub for many, we must extend goodness to ourselves before we can become truly adept at extending goodness to others.
So, if I may have the honor of answering my own question…No, Sara, it’s not bad. Perhaps selecting the word “selfish” was “bad,” in a way, because you don’t actually mean “selfish.” You mean “selfless.” What you meant to say was, “I just want to focus all of my energy on directing Selflessness towards my own divine, precious Self.”
So how’s that for a new title? I like it much better.
The gist of what emotions are being bounced around between the improper word “selfish” and proper word “selfless” are complicated, and yet so very simple. I’m 24 years old. I’m at the glorious beginning of an all-ecompassing yoga teacher training with some of the most incredibly wise and learned yogis in the world. I’m making big life decisions as to where my next move will be within the coming year. I’m focusing very intently on my own health and the harmony of my body, mind and spirit. That last one, my yoga practice and my teacher training take up about 99% of my energy…just saying…I’m incredibly dedicated to my own self-exploration, expansion of my awareness, and I frankly don’t have the capacity to stretch my attention past that. Nor do I want to. That sounds selfish, to me, but I am trying to practice ahimsa and refrain from harming thoughts. What’s so wrong with being intently focused on the self, on self-development and truly getting to know every little fibre of one’s own being? I’m getting to know myself with the curiosity, passion and deep interest that, in the past, I have offered a partner, or a new friend, or even an academic subject. Now, at this poignant time in my life, I am casting that energetic study upon myself, and the practice of yoga. And I’m full. I’m all filled up. My capacity for any more is null.
That being said, this is the first time in my life that I’ve had no interest in dating. I’ve officially outgrown the typical late-teens/early-twenties female yearning for “completion” via significant other. I’m interested in getting to know me. That’s not to say I wouldn’t get dinner or tea with an interesting guy, but I’d be just as eager to get tea or dinner with an interesting girl who I might forge a friendship with! I’m not looking for romance. I am romancing myself, these days! Taking myself out for dinner, for tea, shopping, exploring, adventuring…and it’s spectacular. I wouldn’t give it up for anything, right now. I have a lot to work on, here in my own body, in my own mind, and it seems simply impossible to open myself up to something new when I am still arranging the pieces of my puzzle…I’m still cleaning the lenses, so to say, figuring out exactly how I see the world. I have a lot of girlfriends getting married, or who are already married, and I’m thrilled for them. But I can’t imagine being in their shoes right now. I have an idea of what I want in a partner, but I’m only about 60% of the way there, I feel like, so how could I possibly dedicate myself to another person at this point in my life?
This essay is not about being single or in a relationship, though. I just went off on that tangent because I’ve been listening to Tristan Prettyman’s new (break-up) album on repeat. I digress…
There are some priorities I’ve set, in my journal, and they are all revolving 100% around me. They’re important. They’re “right this very second” priorities. They have zero room for procrastination. So, the cruel, “bitchy” slice of my psyche (who lurks somewhere in the dark, starving herself, smoking cigarettes and calling me mean names) piped up and let me know that she thinks it’s an awfully selfish list of priorities that I just wrote out.
Boom. Done. I believed her. I fall hook line and sinker for her toxic monologues every time. But, just perhaps, instead of slapping an insecure, “Does this sound bad because I think it sounds bad and I feel bad bad bad am I a bad person?” title on my essay, wouldn’t it be more productive to investigate why I’m listening to this little devil on one shoulder? This little black leather clad, anorexic, chain-smoking satanic incarnation of myself? I’m resisting the urge to answer with, “DUH.”
So that’s what I’m doing. I’m being productive. I’m not removing the title of my essay, as a reminder to myself, but I’m going to do the constructive, healthy investigation. I’m changing the word in my mind to selfless. I’m being understanding, compassionate, loving to myself. I’m inviting the serene, rosy-cheeked, spirit warrior incarnation of myself from her bright corner, where her incense burns and her soft music plays, to help me sort out this nonsense.
We figure out, together, that my list of priorities are my manifestations waiting at the gates to be let out, to be manifested.
One of my favorite words since I was a teenager has been “manifest.” I suppose it’s the verb “to manifest.” Ever since I saw and read The Secret, this powerful word has been my favorite. I also collected the words “passion” and “bliss.” We all have defining words. Think of yours. Don’t they resonate with you on a special level? When you see them places you are stopped still for a moment, filled with the sensation, “I’m meant to be here right now…”
I’m reminded of my beautiful friend Jennifer Pastiloff’s quote, “Manifesting = Making Sh*t Happen.” She’s the creator of Manifestation Yoga. She’s also one of my soul sisters. Coincidence? I think not. We share a defining word, as well as many passions, past experiences, and future dreams. Not a coincidence. It’s the process, gently unraveling itself before us, invitingly, offering soul sisters and brothers along the way to make the process all the more digestible.
A lot of the time my essays resemble a journal entry. I begin in one corner and end up in another area code altogether. It’s a cyclical process, writing. That’s why I do it. That’s why I share it. I can’t tell you how many times Jen Pasiloff, Katie Canes, Ashley Turner, Kathryn Budig, these exquisite women have taken me on a journey with one of their essays and articles. We take one another on these little soulful journeys and everyone emerges with a different epiphany. Or no epiphany at all, but a little more learned. Or perhaps even grateful, thinking, “Good God I’m glad I’m not 24 anymore and trying to figure where I’m going with my life,” or perhaps thinking, “ME FREAKING TOO! ME TOO! THIS IS MY STORY!” There’s no right way or wrong way to do anything. Because the definitions of “right and wrong” are made up by human beings. Life is nothing but energy. The mind is nothing but energy. It’s up to us to regulate it. Everything can feel terrifyingly out of our control, or profoundly within our control. It’s up to us.
So I’m making the choice. It’s not bad. It’s not selfish. It’s good. It’s selfless. I am peace, I am harmony, I am health. I am not perfect, but nothing is perfect. I am neither good nor bad, I am energy. I am energy. I am energy.
Energy is magnetic, elastic, buoyant. Energy has all the potential in the world, all the potential to grow and expand and encompass all of the beautiful things the Universe has to offer.
Define yourself. Regulate your own energy. Rein in fear, because fear is nothing more than a word described by a human being. We manifest the energy within our own bodies and label it fear, selfishness, bad…redefine. Manifest. Manifest goodness, selflessness, profound love.
Start with yourself. Shower yourself with goodness. Cleanse the soul with selflessness. Extend profound love within. Then turn outward, and let all of that goodness, all of that selfless energy spill out. We’ll all be waiting to bathe in the flood.