“What are you saying yes to?”
That’s the question that my exquisite, brilliant teacher Melanie Salvatore-August opened our teacher training class with today. I love this woman so deeply that it brings tears to my eyes. I’m a very “touchy feely” person and am known to passionately fall in love with people. Many people; friends, teachers, students, those I’ve never even met in the flesh…but I particularly feel a deep connection with Mel. We are cut of the same cloth.
So, when she posed this supple question to us today, would you believe me if I said my eyes welled up immediately? Along with being touchy feely I’m also a cryer (imagine that). Long before the energizing, emotion-invoking back bending practice I was already misty eyed, tears actually falling. Mel had us go around the room and gaze into one another’s eyes and share what it is we are saying yes to.
I am saying yes to self-acceptance, that was mine. But I was bobbing in a sea of yes’, to be honest. Many of my other yes’ were echoed back to me by my peers, my fellow yogis. I am saying yes to my deepest truth…facing my fears…serving others…vulnerability…new experiences…compassion…love…following my dreams.
It was beautiful. The words seemed denser, more real, when paired with the authentic eye contact of my incredible fellow beings. There was a lot of eye contact today and, despite my recent piece, I found the exercises in holding a steady gaze without smiling or expressing anything but study to be difficult. Just peering deep into another person’s eyes without a trace of anything but recognition, of taking them in…all of them, accepting and embracing that we are we are one…is intense. In the most uplifting and liberating sense.
My teacher said many things today else that stuck with me, one of which resonated so profoundly that I typed it into my iPhone as a reminder, at the top of my “Quotes to Live By” list in my notepad app (fondly referred to by me as my “can’t live without this app…” my post-it addiction goes electronic). What she said was, “your physical body is a manifestation of your mind.” She then said that our future bodies are a manifestation of the thoughts we have, the mind space we’re creating on this yogic journey, essentially. We have the power to make this vessel in which we travel through life one of harmonious self-love and appreciation. We have that power.
Immediately I felt a surge of panic. That means that I’m going to just run my body into the ground, broken and overused, because my mind is a place of compulsion and obsession and anxiety and order. That’s what ran through my head. How is that for a manifestation? If I think it, I will manifest it. I fumbled with the grief that arose, the fear that swelled in my throat, as though my future body were doomed because of an anxious mind. As though my ship were heading into the eye of the storm while I sat bound and gagged on the deck with nothing to do but watch in horror.
It took about ten minutes and going upside down for my perspective to shift. And boy did it shift…I had one of those shifts, so vast and cavernous, like the tremor of a fault line. Giving way to two plates, two bodies, the old me and the new me. The old mind and the new mind. The old perspective and this new, glistening, brimming-with-hope perspective. They are touching, they form this line, this union. Stepping from one side to the other, without judgement, just a feeling of “aha,” of stepping out of the dark and into the light. No longer bound and gagged.
In that moment, upside down in Adho Mukha Svanasana, I saw my mind in a different light. My future body will be holistically well, joyous, healthy, abundant, fertile, strong and able because that is the vast majority of my mind…while my mind is anxious and obsessive at times, the vast majority of it is a sacred space of awareness, introspection, healing, helping, self-study, warmth and compassion.
I am saying yes to ahimsa, non-harming. In thoughts and in actions towards myself. I suddenly see myself clearly.
Why do we shackle and chain ourselves to negative views of ourselves, negative filters, old identities? Why do we identify with the little flaw of our minds rather than the overwhelming bulk of it that is so very beneficial, hopeful, buoyant? I am saying yes to seeing myself through the beneficial, kind, loving, buoyant filter. I am saying yes to seeing myself clearly.
Are you ready for this…?
You are perfect. You are the perfect you. Just as you are. You don’t need to change ANYTHING.
Isn’t that wildly refreshing?
You are complete and perfect exactly as you are, and that is the truth. Seeing that requires nothing but a shift in perspective. Not a ridding of the flaws, no, leave them on the other side of the fault line. They’re there…they’re part of this union, this unification of Selves. They’re not going anywhere. Let them serve as fodder for the growth that is occurring on the other side…let the darkness be but a sliver to accent the beaming light that is you.
You are beaming light. You are made of stars and earth and you are love. Light. You are steering your own ship. You are guiding this vessel. You get to choose.
So, my friends, I leave you tonight with this shining question –
What are you saying yes to?