Yes, that is me doing yoga. I have been practicing yoga on and off since I was 16. My first exposure to yoga was in an article from my Seventeen Magazine where it was talking about having a Spa Day and they incorporated yoga moves in it to help relax and rejuvenate you. I think I was 12 at the time and completely fascinated by this exotic approach to calmness. So, I researched, read books and started coming into this world of yoga.
Needless to say, my classmates thought I was nuts; but at that time in my life more people were concerned about being popular, Britney Spears, and who had Adidas “shell toes” than some weird way to contort yourself from India. I have always been the odd one in the bunch, more concerned with worldly things than most. It’s not a bad thing, but the teasing and tormenting wasn’t fun to say the least. I would do “stretches” in gym, and the rude comments would abound. “Close your legs! You look like you are in missionary position! Why are you doing that, you look ridiculous!” Ignoring them didn’t help either for that matter…I even had a teacher tell me I needed to stop what I was doing because I was “being disruptive in class”. Now, if that isn’t ignorance then I don’t know what is!
At that time though, yoga was mysterious and new to most of the United States. It was what hippies did and people in Portland, Oregon. And as it’s popularity grew, so did my interest. Investing in books, trying to develop a daily practice, reading works about Hinduism and Buddhism, and just generally expanding my world from the small town existence I had been living.
Looking back on those moments at the age of 23, I can see why people said what they did and acted so hatefully. At a young age, anything different is “wrong” because it is not like you. This is why children tease each other, because if someone is not like them then they are “not cool” or “weird” or “bad”. It’s a product of fear in our society, if they are not with us then they are against us! Or so the saying goes… Sometimes the best way to deal with things is to forgive and forget. Honestly, it is kind of hard for me to forget some of the things I had to go through growing up, but it has made me stronger.
So, where does the “mindfulness” come into this? Well, as I have been on this diet I have had a lot of emotions come up that I didn’t really know were there in the first place. To deal with them I have meditated, practiced certain asana’s, read through a few of my favorite books and pondered old thoughts. All those memories that I was holding onto begrudgingly, all the people I let control me, and all the things I let bother me I have decided to let go of. It’s a lot of work to be honest…It’s easier to hold onto things and cling for dear life than to let go of them. Why? Because it’s safe. Yes, most of us would rather be comfortable in misery than to start fresh and be scared out of our minds.
I am scared, I honestly am and I am OK with that. I now have found others who are supportive in my endeavors and love me just the way I am. They want to see me happy and to secede in life, and they are quite fine with my perspective. They don’t all think the same way as I do, but that is good because it is nice to get a fresh perspective on life sometimes.
So, here goes nothing: For all the people that I scared silly growing up because I was not like you, I forgive you. I hope that you all are successful in your paths that life has given you and find happiness, love and light. I don’t know if you read my posts I put up here, or ever will, but just know that I do mean this with all my heart. You are a fantastic being and have so much to offer the world, so don’t dim your light and just shine so that others may see it and you too can brighten others as well. You are your own worse critique, so don’t beat yourself up over old meaningless things. Just be your best self, that’s all anyone can ask for.
So, here is what I as of you my readers. Think of all the things you are holding on to. Ask yourself, “Why does this bother me, hurt me, or scare me? Why am I holding onto this? Will it matter in five years? Is this holding me back from being my best self? Does this serve me for the greatest good?” and then let it go. Make a list, write a letter to someone who hurt your feelings and not send it, pray for them, do whatever you feel you need to do to let things go. We have a choice. We can let things define us or refine us. The refining part is hard, you can’t give up on it. It has its ups and downs, but in the end it is always the best way to go.
I will leave you all with a quote from the Bhagavad Gita, Namaste.
Governing sense, mind and intellect, intent on liberation, free from desire, fear and anger, the sage is forever free.