It's been 2 and a half years since I completed my yoga teacher training. Weekend after weekend I joined my yogi peers as we learned about the practice of yoga. There was something so intimate about meeting with this group of people and moving our bodies to the rhythm of our breath weekend after weekend. After a while, it started to register that this yoga practice is about the bigger journey of life and how to be fully present for ALL OF IT, highs and lows. Those weekends taught me how to love myself fully, even the parts that weren't pretty or put together!
The most powerful moment for me was an exercise we did where we went around in a circle and shared the one thing most people don't know about us. People shared stories of being abused, of their infidelity, of having abortions, of desires they aren't proud of. We bared the parts of ourselves that we have been taught not to accept. I remember when it came closer to being my turn, it felt like my heart was beating out of my chest. I walked to the center of the circle, shared the part of myself I felt was the most "shameful", and actually couldn't finish talking; I burst into tears. One of the other yogis came up and hugged me, telling me to "just breathe", and eventually I got the words out with her holding me the entire time. When I sat back down I was met with unconditional acceptance; hugs, words of encouragement, and a feeling of being fully seen.
That weekend changed my life. Not only by speaking my whole truth and being met with acceptance, but by seeing others who I assumed had it all together and seeing that not one of us did, and they were even more beautiful because they owned it that day. I learned that we all have "darkness" within us, and it can't be ostracized to the basement in our brains. We can pretend that those parts don't exist, but they actually are a part of who we are.
Ironic, isn't it? That we keep parts of ourselves hidden to be acceptable/loved by ourselves and others. Come to find out, true love and connection relies on us showing up wholly, and sharing parts of ourselves that we may not feel comfortable with. Because essentially, acknowledging all parts of our story is owning that we are enough just as we are. We can present a cool, perfectly filtered instagram highlight reel to others, but if we walk through life with that mask on we are missing out on our opportunity to be fully present and connected in our relatively short time here.
And maybe there is a "shadowy" part of your story that you don't want to own, but those shadows have contributed to your light as well, whether you see it right now or not. You can/will fully appreciate the light because you know how bad things can get, or maybe your shadows and struggles have built an inner strength, an ability to see challenges through to the other side of them. For me, my pain, my shadows, show me that when I'm having days where I feel GOOD, I mean really good, I am so grateful because I know nothing is constant and I have to appreciate that moment; I know that there have been bad days too.
So I challenge you to begin being vulnerable in whatever way you can, even if it's just by being vulnerable with yourself. Put pen to paper and write your truth, WITHOUT JUDGMENT. Journaling is a helluva way to get to know you and practice self care, and it can help you to practice being authentic and honest about you.
Also practice being vulnerable and authentic with others in your life by really opening up and sharing the "imperfect" parts of yourself. Sometimes this is just acknowledging that we sometimes need other people, because we do! I don't know when it became cool to pretend we don't want to be connected to others, but we are wired for connection, and the "I don't need anyone, I have it all together" social shield may protect you from pain and disappointment, but in the end it cheats you of a whole realm of love, connection, and joy (which you do deserve).
Sure, by opening up there is a potential to be hurt; but life includes some pain sometimes. Be fully here for all of it. You have to remove the social shield to let people in and to truly accept yourself as you are. If it's comforting at all, remember we are all here trying to figure it out. No one has it all figured out. Take risks in your relationship with yourself and others, and bring along the messy parts that make up YOU. They are good enough too, I promise.
What does vulnerability mean to me? What does authenticity mean to me?
What parts of myself do I hide from others, and what is the fear about that holds me back from sharing?
What parts of myself do I wish I could share easily with others?
How can I start to be more vulnerable/open with myself and others?
Light and love,