On Saturday morning, I attended an early morning yoga class where the focus was the yama of satya, benevolent truthfulness. I think one of the hardest truths to accept in life is that we often are what we criticize. Suddenly, I found myself hot and heavy, ready, lost in passion – becoming the person whom I had chastised him for being. Through the experience, I got lost in pleasure. I compromised my integrity, my boundaries, and everything I had been building. Rather than regretting the experience and beating myself up for it, I decided to observe my reaction and as a result was provided with a new perspective.
As I reflected on my actions, I thought of him. The one that I had cut off for precisely the same behavior I was partaking in. Suddenly, I understood. It was fun, it was light, it was airy. The flow of the erotically charged experience was far less terrifying than the potential of true love. True love meant being seen – as a work in progress, as an imperfect human being, as someone that was just trying their best. As I dove deeper into my new found understanding, I felt a sense of compassion arise within my heart. The raging fires of anger that had been brewing were appeased by the waters of empathy and understanding. He, who was part of my life for most of my life, has unknowingly been one of my greatest teachers – even at a distance, without communication. Alex has been my greatest mirror up to date. It’s the real reason I ran way. It’s the real reason for the anger, for the rage. Truly looking in the mirror and owning what you see isn’t always the easiest of tasks.
As the day continued to evolve, I sat in silence forced to drink some of my own medicine. You can’t undo the past. You can only act differently moving forward. Integrity. Boundaries. Forgiveness. The longer I sat in silence, the longer I was able to peel layers back. Another realization made its way to the surface: a deep seated (false) belief that men are only interested in me for transient experiences. You’re exotic. You’re sexy. You ooze sexual energy. You have beautiful legs. You have amazing lips. I love your neck. I had subconsciously accepted that I was an object somewhere on my life path. It wasn’t an idea anyone in particular had enforced upon me, but rather a belief I took upon my own. This new awareness, allowed me to more deeply understand the repeating patterns of the past five years. While there had been trauma and life hadn’t externally been perfect, there was no longer a reason I needed to hold on to the mechanisms I adapted to survive some difficult times in earlier years.
Some days ago, I talked about the Hawaiian practice of Ho’oponopono: I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you. If there is someone in your life that you feel the need to “clear the air” with, but are hesitant to contact them due to fear of a trigger, shame, or some other reason, it’s best to talk to a therapist or trusted counsel to process the situation. As much as we’d like the human experience to be able to fit in neat little boxes, the truth is that life is messy. We get triggered. We overreact. We misinterpret and don’t communicate. We carry hard experiences in silence further cultivating shame and thus the cycles continue.
One of my spiritual teachers, had taught me of a forgiveness practice when reaching out to a particular individual was not the wisest path. She mentioned that with the assistance of divine guidance (or a therapist!), you could meditate on the situation for a fruitful release. A release that was for the highest good for everyone involved. I thought about Tony, the guy that was my initiator into the spiritual world. When I met Tony, he was deeply struggling with the external factors in his life. Yet amongst all his struggles the most difficult was letting his ex-girlfriend go – the one he thought was the love of his life. As he continued to learn and heal, he once shared with me, that as he was working on making amends with the people in his life, if it wasn’t possible to contact them, he’d pray for them. He’d pray for their healing, their well-being, and their happiness. To his day, I still look back to this practice of his to remind me of the meaning of true love.
I’m not perfect. None of us are. I sincerely believe that most of us have the best intentions at heart even if the execution is poor. Often times, execution of any particular situation is simply neural pathway memory or “this is always how I do this”. Some of our patterns are so deeply engrained within our subconscious mind that many times we really don’t know how to do better even if we want to. We becomes servants of our subconscious minds bound to unhealthy patterns – craving to be set free.
I read a Medium article about the authentic self and came across the following quote that really struck a deep chord: “Authenticity is not about discarding the parts of yourself you don’t like. It’s about embracing them and all the discomfort they bring.” So here’s your Sunday sermon reminding you that perhaps you don’t have to be perfect or even good. A reminder that being hard on yourself doesn’t accomplish more. An additional reminder that it is possible to set yourself free. Re-programming neural pathways takes work, takes time, and it’s not a path of instant gratification. It may involve therapy, meditation, yoga, giving up things that you once thought were the answer. It’s the path of the humble warrior, baddha Virabhadrasana. It’s the path to setting yourself free.