Most of us have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.
-Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art
Today I had the honor of taking my Divine mentor, Melanie Salvatore-August’s, workshop “Courage to Blossom” today. Mel teamed up with Jessica Boylston-Fagonde, the creator of Brand Thyself, to present 50 yogis, yoginis, teachers and beings of light with the opportunity to overcome resistance.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
“Today is about getting a little messy and being okay with it,” Jessica said to us, as we all stared back at her. One hundred eager eyes, fifty bodies sitting in virasana on blocks, hundreds of dreams ready to be pursued. It’s through putting down the perfectionist tendencies, Jessica continued, that we overcome resistance.
Where is there resistance in your life? I’m seriously asking. Take a minute. Think about it. Think about it fully. It’s really important. Resistance comes in many forms, just as inspiration comes in many forms. Resistance could come in the form of me choosing to get lost on facebook rather than write this meaningful essay, letting the words that are bursting out of my soul leap onto the page and seep out all of your worlds. Resistance could come in the form of not leaving a relationship one knows is a dead end, or over for whatever reason, or unhealthy. Resistance could come in the form of self-loathing, shuddering at one’s own reflection, drowning that loathing in more unhealthy food, lifestyle and emotional choices. These are just some examples but, by the time you’ve finished reading this last paragraph, you probably know for your own Self what greatest resistance you struggle with in your life.
Where are you feeling stuck? Where are you feeling afraid to move forward, step out, try? Jess gave the great example that it could be something as simple as keeping a clean house. One oughtn’t underestimate the profound effect something so simple could have one one’s life. It could be taking time with one’s spouse or partner, really dedicating quality time to them each week. It could be turning off technology by 8pm. It could be so many little things; little things that have a big effect.
Resistance comes in many a guise. But, here’s the good news and the tricky part…so does opportunity.
“The way it creates itself may come in a form you never realized,” Jess said. The “it” here is the opportunity, the inspiration, the opening. The key to really making change is to say yes to every single opportunity. Those opportunities may come to you looking like an ordinary invitation, an ordinary idea, a “nothing special about this” moment. See it clearer. Slow down and listen to it. Say yes to it.
Nothing happens by accident. I’ve been having a sincere internal struggle this past week. To do the 300hour teacher training or not. I have the magical opportunity to mentor with Melanie, a woman I look at like the inspirational big sister the Universe meant me to have, paving the way for me to live a more authentic, fearless life. That opportunity alone is begging my soul with all its might to go that direction. I would go that direction because of my deep and abiding metaphysical connection to Melanie. Not because of the program itself. The program is one of a kind, it’s the best 300hour teacher training I have available to me, and it would be an honor to do it. But the truth of mine that I faced this past week, a truth that actually came to me a month ago as I mediated in viparita kirani, is that I don’t want to be a full-time yoga teacher. It’s not my destiny, it’s not my calling. It’s a truth that hit me like a sack of stones, a punch in the gut, because I felt overwhelmingly like I’d be disappointing my beloved teachers if I shared that truth.
I worried that my aching desire to study with my beautiful teacher might be mistaken as disinterest if I were not to proceed with the professional teacher training. I worried, I obsessed, I feared. I turned it over and over in my mind, chewing on the worry. I opened the gateway for ugly emotions to come flooding in…jealousy, possessiveness, fear, regret, worry, greed, doubt…it pains me to admit it, but I was bobbing this past week in the throes of those sick emotions. Sentiments that I view as choices, rather than emotions. I was choosing to let them quake me. I knew deep down what I was meant to do, and I was questioning it based on cancerous emotions.
I’m not going to be as close knit a part of my Tribe if I don’t go on this journey with them…other people are going to get to mentor with Melanie and learn from her and bond with her and she’ll forget all about me…I won’t know as much about teaching yoga as they do…I might regret this one day…they won’t love me as much…my teachers will think I don’t care about teaching yoga…
Gross. Bleck. Throw that sh*t out of the car.
[Or place it kindly in the compost bin for the worms to go to town on like a true eco-friendly yogini would do].
My purpose is to share yoga as a part of my passion for holistic wellness. My purpose is to teach yoga while I share my knowledge of holistic nutrition. My purpose as a yoga teacher is to bring awareness and to make space in physical bodies as I weave in knowledge of the subtle body, Ayurveda and a healthy, nourishing approach to eating. That is my purpose. And writing about it, we can’t forget the writing about each and every tidbit, every little step of the way!
I have my own quad of passions to share: yoga, holistic nutrition, writing and Ayurveda. These passions make up my purpose. I might think all of those ugly thoughts but does that make them true? No.
I am forever going to be an integral part of my close knit Tribe. I’m not the only one taking a different route post teacher training. Yes, other yogis are going to mentor with Melanie and yes they’re going to know more than I do as yoga teachers…but does that negate the intensity and importance of my connection with them or my connection with Mel? Absolutely not. It’d be absurd to believe it would! My teachers know I’m passionate about teaching yoga. But they also know I’m a writer, a nutrition student, head over heels for Ayurveda and subtle body. They introduced some of these passions to me, in addition to training me as a yoga teacher! So of course they support me, it was their wisdom (and Divine intervention) that led me here!
It’s a choice to follow your passion. And what is passion, anyway?
“The fuel to stay on the path even when it looks ugly. Even in the face of judgement, ridicule, misunderstanding…” Having passion is about SAYING YES. Saying YES to the feeling that fills you with such boiling pleasure that you might burst into flame. That “might burn you right up” passion is what you hold onto…and then you anchor it with purpose.
“Step into your passion and anchor it in purpose.” Jess’ words were spoken soft but their weight could be held in our one hundred open, sweaty palms.
“Purpose is a vibrating yes,” Melanie explained, “purpose feels like YES in the body. It can be felt in the body.”
Passion gives us compassion. Compassion creates a safer world for us to live in. Mel’s simple words sketched such a perfect equation for a life more fully lived…
PASSION –> COMPASSION –> A SAFER WORLD
My passion is holistic nutrition. My passion is yoga. My passion is writing. My passion is sharing with the world the experiences, often beautiful and often traumatic, that have made me who I am today. My passion is promoting holistic wellness. My passion is living close to nature, in tune with the rhythms of mother earth. My passion is ever feeling more comfortable in my own skin, and helping others to feel more comfortable in theirs. My passion is in manifesting. My passion is in learning and sharing and growing.
My yogic passion is personal, internal, a journey I’m on. I’m eager to share the discoveries I’ve made along the way, I dream of leading yoga retreats by the sea, with creative writing sprinkled in. That was the original dream. Now I wish to incorporate wellness, nutrition, Ayurveda, subtle body…the dream is growing. It’s snowballing, gathering momentum.
Anchoring the passion in purpose.
What if you can’t identify your passion? You may be reading this thinking, Sara I don’t know what my passion is, so what can I take from all this? Jess provided an exercise to do just that.
EXERCISE IN IGNITING PASSION
- Think back on your life up until this point…
- Pinpoint a moment (or series of moments) in which you felt passionate about something, anything.
- Identify an experience, emotion, event, something that left you feeling deeply moved, deeply connected.
- Consider what types of books you read, the hobbies you have, the art hanging on your walls, the stuff you google to learn more about, the little things you collect…
That is where your passion is hiding. Except it’s not hiding. It’s waiting, patiently, for you to see it. To snatch it up. To light it on fire. To anchor it with purpose.
We came up with mantras today in the workshop, and then set action plans to live out these truths of ours.
We must be willing to be vulnerable, because it is in vulnerability that we discover the key to courage…it is in vulnerability that we see our own heart, that we realize our purpose.
So I set a mantra. Mantras are not something I’m unfamiliar with, in fact I’ve been setting them my whole life. My mom introduced them to me as a kid. I’ve always relied on mantra (especially as a rather obsessive individual) to get me through tough times.
The mantra I shared in the circle of beating hearts and beaming faces at the end of today’s workshop was this.
I am manifesting the life I dream of by listening to my intuition and feeling the vibration of my purpose.
I am intuitive, I am vulnerable, I have purpose and I feel the vibration.
My action plan was to LOOK FORWARD AND NOT BACK and to write myself a letter forgiving all of the insecurities, the doubts, the fears, the mistakes, the moments of “I’m not good enough,” and “I’m not stable enough.”
“Don’t look back you’re not going that way…”
I’m forgiving my seventeen year old Self for the torture she caused this beautiful body of mine in the throes of anorexia. I’m forgiving her for being susceptible to this disease, this disease that latched its teeth into her young, warm skin sometime in middle school and whose venom didn’t fully poison the bloodstream until the most poignant year of her teens…I’m forgiving the scars and battle wounds that caused a five year roller coaster of emotion after that life threatening battle. I’m saying farewell to the voice that whispered in the dark, moist corners of that state of disease that I’m not good enough, not stable enough, that I’m “damaged.” I’m saying NO to judgement around the word disease; disease is quite literally dis ease, a general place of unease, one we are all susceptible to at any point if we do not protect ourselves. I am saying YES to forgiveness and looking forward.
It’s safe to say today was life changing for me. Nearly every time I share a space with Melanie Salvatore-August my life is changed. I have gathered tools to snowball this dream of mine. This blaze that began as nothing more than a pile of kindling, some mossy twigs and my furiously rubbing palms.
I’m getting really comfy with being vulnerable. Vulnerability is like my new greatest pal, and I have been spending more and more time with her lately than I even anticipated. But I’ve also been growing by leaps and bounds, far more growth in such a short span of time than I ever thought possible…hmm, imagine that 😉
Vulnerability leads to courage. And our potential shares a direct relationship with that courage. The resistance is everywhere, it floats in the air and it clings to our skin. Courage is what breaks it off, it’s what cracks the surface and lets the sunlight in. Vulnerability can be scary, but through vulnerability we find courage and through courage we set flame to our passion.
It may be an uncertain journey at times but, I’ll tell you this…it’s sure worth the sight of this blazing passion fire.
Connect with Melanie at http://melaniesalvatoreaugust.com where she will, inevitably, guide you towards “harnessing ur awes(om)eness.”
Connect with Jess at www.BrandThyself.com
Image courtesy of Robert Sturman.