I've never gone this amount of time without writing. Today, for whatever reason, I couldn't wait to get to this moment. Sitting here with a cup of tea, just waiting to talk. It's been what feels like forever since I have felt this urgency to write. It's like there's something that I have to get out of me or I might just explode. I think now, the words, feelings and thoughts have taken so long to brew that they are spilling over, so excuse me while I sit here and soak in this moment of having the time to breathe, write and rest my heart on the spaces between the letters and words that are typed right here.
I have a yoga studio and I write a newsletter every month with a theme. It was what my home studio in Houston had always done, so now it's what I always do. This month the theme, freedom came to me and it just happened to coincide with the symbolism of the fourth of July. Freedom is something I value. As I sat down this morning for my school lectures, I'm getting my licensing from The Integrative Institute of Nutrition to be a holistic health and wellness coach, I opened my computer to find the lecture to be about exactly this, freedom. I couldn't listen and absorb quickly enough, so I watched the lecture twice. Every word of it hit me hard. One point after another, I kept writing, listening and realizing that this was exactly what I needed to hear, so I thought I would share it with you. Seven Steps to Freedom:
1. Release your story. We all have stories. We do. We like to carry them around. Some of us have backpacks, some us have purses or really full pockets, others of us like to pile all of our stories on so high we actually fall backwards so often that the idea of putting one foot in front of the other seems impossible. I have carried some version of a story my entire life. I am writing this publicly for what feels like the first time in my life. A truth: my dad is an addict. A story: It's all my fault. Even as I write the sentence, I want to erase it. The word addict seemed so far from my world growing up that I didn't imagine writing that sentence at the age of 29. Addicts were people I envisioned who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, not my dad, who had everything together. The thing is, I'm not that much different you see. Addicts are simply people who carry around their stories. Those stories that take us back to the same place over and over again. That place that tricks us into thinking that we are less than we are. The word addict does not mean bad or broken. I would even venture to say that in life, everyone has a story that they either choose to identify with and are controlled by, or they wake up every day and choose to let it go.
2. Finding your voice. I guess this doesn't just mean speaking it. I'm pretty sure this refers to all forms of having voice. I think part of the reason why it's so hard for me to write is the terrifying fear of being seen. Finding our voices is really this call to be present, to be all here and we can only do this once we have released our stories. Finding our voice is showing up authentically.
3. Mind-Body Connection. Yeah, there's a connection there, which is why I found yoga to be a benefit from the very first time I ever stepped on my mat. It helped me to release things I didn't even know I was holding onto. Mental health is encoded in the way we think. The way we think directly impacts the way we feel. My dad refers to negative thinking as "stinky thinking." It always makes me laugh. My whole family has been in recovery and in therapy for about four years now. Yay, Dad! One of the things we've connected over is yoga. My dad doesn't necessarily do a ton of asana, but he lives it every day, and I know he understands what I do through sharing yoga almost better than anyone, because we've both been "there." We've both been at the point you get to when your body gives you no choice, but to listen, pay attention and begin the process of healing.
4. Surrendering Secrets. Secrets are the source of shame. In the lecture I listened to earlier today she said, "shame is a way of dishonoring ourselves." There is no place we have ever been that takes away our right to joy, love, compassion, kindness and happiness. Just by being here, breathing you have a right to all of those things.
5. Forgiveness. This is a biggie. It might be easy to forgive others, however, we often forget to forgive the one person we really need to and that is ourselves. When I was in high school, I was in a serious relationship. Although we cared for each other and loved each other, as you can imagine at that age it wasn't the healthiest relationship in the world. It took me a long time to heal from it. There were parts of myself that I gave away, parts of myself that I shoved down, lost, feared, disliked and the minute I started doing yoga, was the first time I caught a glimpse of what I needed to forgive. I have shed more tears on my mat than I would like to admit. I have bawled in class. I have sat there shaking while the teacher spoke. I have fallen a part on my mat and I am so thankful, because through that mess, I started to forgive myself. It was only through seeing my fears, vulnerabilities and viewed weaknesses that I could come to know them, love them and accept them. We have to forgive ourselves for the times we didn't know better, we have to forgive ourselves for the times when we've rejected our hearts, our own light and our own humanness. We have to forgive ourselves for not having the proper tools to cope with something, we have to forgive ourselves so that we can have ourselves. There isn't a piece missing. Everything is there. We just have to see ourselves through the lens that isn't skewed by what we think we should be for someone or something else.
6. Reclaim yourself. When I say we have to forgive ourselves in order to have ourselves, I mean that sometimes we forget that we are whole. We have everything we need in this moment. There's nothing wrong with you, nothing you need to fix or change. There's nothing that can take your power away. There's no one thing that can take you away from who you came here to be. BAM. Say that to yourself, soak it in, because it's everything.
7. You are whole, you are powerful, you are loved. Freedom is a choice.
Everything is moving us back to wholeness.