This past weekend was my first step in a 9 month stretchy, spiritual and transformative journey through Kansas City Yoga Teacher Training. There are some truly amazing and inspirational women in my “Yoga Trainee Tribe” and I feel so blessed and honored to share this time and space with them.
But I have a confession. It was a fear I burned (literally) and was supposed to release in a unique ritual our first night of training. We all took turns burning our biggest challenges and fears, while chanting a sanskrit phrase about releasing them. But it hasn’t truly gone away; and that’s intimacy, or rather, fear of being truly intimate with these lovely, incredible women, both individually and as a group.
I’m not saying this to scare anyone off, but I know how valuable vulnerability is, especially when it comes to connection and intimacy. And for some reason (probably because it’s less intimate) it is much easier for me to share this fear and my pondering in a group, or out into the online universe. It’s a fear I’ve long battled with ever since my adolescence.
You see, I haven’t had many (close) friends in my lifetime. I didn’t have the easiest time with friends during my middle and high years. I struggled with being bullied, alienated, left out, and not fitting in (or so it FELT that way). I’m not saying I didn’t have any part of this. I am in no way a victim and I take full responsibility for being a co-creator of my life. But this was my experience, and sadly, I still experience it from time to time, whether it’s real, or imagined. I am trying my hardest not to re-create this experience and pattern in my life.
Don’t get me wrong.. I know and truly believe that friendship is much more about quality over quantity. I viscerally crave deep, close connection in my relationships with the right people, yet I’m also terrified of them. (I’m sure many of you can relate).
It’s a really sad, anxiety inducing cycle I’ve created, and its been hard (and scary) to break! Various thoughts, questions and worries pop into my head while interacting, and I tend to overthink and overanalyze everything — and essentially overwhelm myself.
- “What if they won’t like me?”
- “I’m so boring..I’m totally not _________ enough.” (insert word of choice: interesting, smart, funny, cool, relaxed, eloquent, etc.)
- “What if they think I’m weird or awkward?”
- “How do I connect with her?”
- “What should I say?”
- “Do I sound too repetitive?”
- “Do I sound pretentious?”
- “What if they get sick of me?”
- “They probably already have their own group of close friends.. why would they make room/time for me?”
- “How do I figure out who I should be devoting my time and energy getting to know?”
HELLLOOOOOOOOOOOO Self-Fulfilling Prophecy!!! Life’s funny that way, isn’t it?! But then I realized, that my biggest fear isn’t being truly intimate with others.. It’s being truly intimate with myself. This includes spirituality and my relationship with my higher power. I truly believe that every experience in life leads you to where you’re meant to be, yet I have a difficult time actually manifesting that in my life. I always want to be somewhere else then where I am, focusing entirely on my destination instead of the journey, and in a hurry to get there.
One of the most beautiful things about Yoga is its focus on mindfulness–being in the present moment–and being content with where you’re at in your practice (and in life). It’s not about nailing every pose, and being the best in the class, because that is where our Ego comes in, and that is the opposite of what Yoga is about. Our Ego will ultimately harm us and prevent us from manifesting our true passions, dreams, and intimate connections. Yoga is about challenging yourself, pushing yourself, but also being okay with where you’re at today, this minute, and not judging or criticizing yourself. It’s about tuning into your feelings, your mind and body, and becoming intimately aquatinted with yourself inside and out.
I can imagine that the more I get comfortable at getting intimately aquatinted with myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, the better and more comfy I’ll feel doing the same with others. It’s an inside out process.
So at the end of the day, if you are struggling with where you’re at right now in life, try to give yourself some grace and compassion, and just notice how you’re feeling. Let yourself feel it, but also remember that you’re exactly where you’re meant to be right now. Every obstacle is a challenge that leads you to grow. This is an intentional mindful practice, just as Yoga is. So give yourself a chance and practice. We are most loyal to our biggest fears, one of my grad school professors taught us. Yet our fear is a GPS for where our should wants us to go. Follow it.