It’s always an adventure! Discovering what we really want as opposed to our impulsive desires. It’s imperative to discover the difference between the two. For the sake of simplicity let’s call what we really want the heart, and impulsive desire the mind. I say it’s imperative to distinguish the difference between heart’s desire and mind’s desire, but the truth is we will survive and be just fine if we don’t know the difference. The sense of urgency I am trying to convey is based on my assumption that you are seeking sustainable peace, happiness, and freedom to live each day to your fullest potential.
When reading that statement I’m sure you probably said to yourself “well of course that is what I want!”. The reality is most of us really do want these things at the core of our being but we often lose connection to that place. This is why it is essential to have a practice that helps us connect to that sacred space inside of us. Yoga, Martial Arts, or Tai Chi are some examples. Mind-body disciplines help us connect to the beauty inside and allow us to penetrate many layers of egoic armor that tries to protect us, but, like a worried parent, often smothers us.
The layers of ego seem to be infinite; every time I step into a more vulnerable place I feel this sense of pride come over me that associates who I am with vulnerability…and then my ego pats me on the back. Let me clarify. I strive to live and act from the heart, and the ability to be vulnerable is one of the most powerful entries into the heart space. Vulnerability is something that I admire in others and strive to bring out in myself. When I see it in myself it feels wonderful. But, not long after it’s debut, the ego claims it as part of its identity and says “you see? I am vulnerable! People should admire me!”. This of course is not the heart speaking but the egoic mind that never feels good enough for anyone…so it gathers evidence to prove its strength.
This is in all of us, and if you can see it then you have a choice. You can choose to create your actions from this insecure place of the mind, or you can choose to stay vulnerable and act with courage in conjunction with our heart’s desire.
The layers of the mind are deep. Trying to identify the egoic mind or heart can be intensely challenging. One of my teachers, Jason Nemer talks about our capacity to be deep listeners is an endless journey. It’s not a quick fix – something that you work on once, and suddenly you’re a master listener. This is crucial to remember in our journey – and was especially crucial for me. In comparison to who I was five years ago, I am far more vulnerable. But as I have seen recently there are still many layers that keep me from living in the heart in all aspects of my life.
When I began to see this wall my mind freaked out and said things like “I can’t believe you are not past this. How can you be a yoga teacher when you are still working on yourself? You’re not good enough”. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Maybe you’re not a yoga teacher but can relate to this idea of knowing who you want to be and judging yourself for “not being there yet”.
When I step back, it’s actually funny to hear the things my mind makes up! The chatter is laughable. In actuality, I will NEVER be “there” because as soon as I get there, I have the privilege of going deeper – being more vulnerable, more compassionate, loving, kind, balanced, joyful, passionate, etc. It never ends! The nature of life is expansion, and we have the opportunity to continue on that path! This is a privilege. And so I say to myself as I say to my students: get excited when you discover something you don’t like about yourself, because this is your opportunity to grow and expand further into the person you want to be – to live more fully in the heart.
If you are reading this, chances are you’re someone that chooses to live, rather than go through the motions. You make choices that serve your heart’s intention, and work hard to have freedom from your mind’s impulsive and addictive nature. Allow me to serve as a reminder that this lifestyle, like any other, is challenging. That is the reality. It’s a lie to think that you are not capable, not good enough, not with it, or not strong enough. You, like me, are powerful beyond measure. It is part of your very nature. Let go of the fear and stand up for yourself – you are not alone! I am writing this to remind you that we are all in this together. And as my friend Mary Aranas says, “love is an action”.
Love yourself. You deserve it.