Not too long ago, I was presented with an opportunity to make a change. It was an attractive offer simply because it was a way out of my current situation of [fill-in-the-blank: loneliness, sadness, boredom, frustration, fear, etc.] and for that, I rationalized that I should just take it. But instead, I turned it down. I’d done this may times before… in both my professional and personal lives. This time, however, I didn’t deliberate about whether or not I should turn it down. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was not good enough.
This is a hard concept for many of us to digest. We assume that by admitting something is “not good enough,” we sound demanding, egotistical, bitchy… an anti-yogi. On the contrary, the yogic journey teaches us to acknowledge our own worth.
At a recent workshop with Nikki Myers, founder of Y12SR, she asked us, “Why did you choose a service profession? Because the very act of teaching yoga is trying to help others.” Hey now. It was like Nikki had taken a giant neon marker and squeakily highlighted the fine line between co-dependence (i.e., that tendency that so many of us have to—consciously or subconsciously—attract people and situations that need help) and healthy ambition. It made me stop and think about why I felt so great after teaching yoga, Spanish, technology…or anything, for that matter. People needed me just like I needed them! Watching them grow, change, and excel made me feel happy. But she had a point. When you think about it, teaching—by its very nature—is painful simply because our role is impermanent and our “students” (i.e., the people in our lives) eventually transform, evolve, depart.
In Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths tell us that everything in life causes suffering (or dukkha) and that we become worthy not when we cease our suffering, but when we finally learn how to “awaken” to it. Meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein explains this by writing, “Everything will change. It won’t be what it was, or it will no longer be what we wanted, or we’ll stop loving it and then we’ll feel bad about it, or we’ll love it so very much and something will happen to it, and then it won’t be available to us, and on and on and on. This life is full of getting used to losses. The only adequate response is to love fully and realize we have a precious short life.”
What yoga has recently taught me is this: knowing your worth and honoring your truth are the same thing.
I, like many, have been internalizing suffering—or what I like to refer to as “the collective hurt”—for a very long time by embracing situations that did not represent my truth nor my worth. Many of us have no idea we’re even doing it. And then one day, when the collective hurt builds enough, we understand there is no more room and we have no choice but to relinquish it and let it pass through us.