It’s the evening of the very last calendar day of 2014. I’m sitting in a smoking pub in Albany, CA – just north of Berkeley – with a Speckled Hen and no smoke. Next to Halloween, New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday. An evening of reflection, reconnection, understanding, evaluation, intention, and beer. Can’t forget the beer.
2014 has been an incredible year. This is the year of the green wooden horse – a year of unrelenting change and evolution. It’s also been my 27th year; marking the return of my Saturn and the beginning of my adventure toward my True North. How cool. Both forces have rocked my world in every way, from every direction, with all the bells, whistles, and dips you could ask for. And no doubt, I asked for them all. When I think of 2014, I think of so many things. I think of soooo many things.
I could go on about this year and it’s lessons. I have – but here, I want to share just three things that this year has taught me.
– Yoga will save your life. I actually do feel that it will save it completely. Of course, we all know the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of yoga are pretty profound. The peace, strength, and flexibility it brings into every aspect of your life is unparalleled and can truly make your life better in more ways than one. That’s not what I mean here. I mean that yoga will prevent you from wasting your life. It will save you from boredom. It will save you from suffering. It will save you from self criticism and self doubt. It will save you from judging others you do not know. It will save you from stressing over things that do not matter. It will save you from delusion. It will save you from pain. It will save you from obsession. It will save your life from “you” so YOU may actually live a life of joy, peace, excitement, trust and fulfillment. You may live longer and will have a happier experience in your body, but that does not hold a candle to the actual LIFE that becomes available to you when you learn to love. And yoga teaches us that. It teaches us to fall in love with the process of becoming. It teaches us to love the fire and the fight. It teaches us to love the stillness and the silence. It teaches us to love ourselves unconditionally and forgive our inevitable fuck ups. It teaches us to love each other, regardless of how much we fuck up. It stops us from being passive. It stops us from being aggressive. It brings us into the now without reservation or pause.
Yoga is among the most important things that have happened to me. The more I learn, the more I understand my body, my mind and our world. I am in love with the process of becoming and of being – in equal parts. If you haven’t found a practice that inspires you, keep searching. Save your life by finding a way to learn how to live it without reservation and without apology.
– Finding Your True North; Your Life’s Purpose – Dharma. I’m lucky enough to say that I have had endless encounters with my True North this year. Each time, I’ve felt resistance to it, as though if I were to accept the challenge of being myself, the cross becomes too heavy to bear. The easiest way for me to explain this sensation is this: Being your own boss vs. Reporting to someone else in a major corporation. The degrees of separation from accountability are greater when working for someone else. Sure, you may lose your job with a major mistake, but at the end of the day, it’s not your dream, your business, or really your problem. You can move on to another job and start over. When you take on your own independent endeavor, failure is 100% yours. You’re now accountable for all aspects of the process and everyone else’s problem actually is your problem. Now, this isn’t specific to being an entrepreneur. This applies if you change jobs, change cities, have a child; do anything that requires you to accept responsibility for your actions in a new way. When you find that one thing that feels like “yes, this is what I came here to do”, failure can be catastrophically disappointing.. as though you’ve failed in your purpose in life. That’s a harsh buzz kill, bro. The beautiful lesson I’ve learned here is that if it is indeed your life purpose (being a parent, leaving a corporate job to teach yoga or give massages, starting a homestead, starting business.. whatever it is), the failures, the challenges, and the derailed moments are what you need to be that person and you’ll learn to trust in the process of becoming the best version of yourself you can in order to fulfill your life’s purpose. Challenge and failure will never stop you; they will advance you.
It’s taken an entire 12 months for me to accept my north; but I’m still resisting the action it now requires. Your True North comes in waves. Recognizing your purpose on the planet, accepting that purpose, and then acting from that place are all very different things… I do feel I’ve recognized and accepted it – it’s now a call to action. 2014 has been a year of that discovery. Of exploring my options to recognize that I keep getting turned the same way – back North. Back to my purpose. Back to my truth. Back to Yoga. Back to space holding. Back to love. Back to joy. Back to healing. Back to community. Back to Mother Earth. This is my North. This is my truth – working and living deeply connected to these things that I cultivate, connect to, and create without conscious effort. Bringing my subconscious habits into conscious action to ensure that what I do with my life fulfills my spirit and guides me closer to my truest self. This is really a gift of the return of my Saturn and I also recognize that though I think I may have encountered that True North, in truth, I also recognize that this will change and by the end of 2015, I will have a new and more finely tuned compass guiding me. What a delicious treat is a year.
– The Shadows are not the enemy. We all have our shadows, don’t we? Those things we feel compelled to deny and suppress. Those parts of ourselves that we don’t like or feel that do not feed the truth we’re trying to cultivate. We all have those things we hate to know are a part of us. Our neediness. Our anger. Our impatience. Our fears of abandonment or of not actually being who we like to believe we are. They may be clear to some, but most of the time, these shadows lie quiet and dormant and we rarely ever recognize that they are a critical part to our being. We rarely recognize that the are a major part of all of our decisions – no matter what we do, they come in to play. This year has shown me, in more ways than one, that I have all these shadow sides that inform my decisions. I need things I don’t want to need. I crave things I don’t want to crave. I hate things I don’t mean to hate. I feel anger. I feel depression. I feel sadness. These are beautiful things that make me human and allow me to grow, and yet, every time they show themselves, I hate or deny them. Denying our shadows is the deepest way we continually deny ourselves. And we do it every day. Instead of looking at these feelings and deeply reviewing why we feel them, we instead deny them completely.
I have one very personal experience with this I’m happy to share. I have denied myself anger. As I grew up, I experienced anger fully. I sometimes even wore it as a badge – I was an angry teen and that was how I identified myself. After many years of carrying this anger, I decided I wanted to be someone else and in doing that, I overcorrected and ended up with only apathy. I felt that if I was to be peaceful, I was not to be angry.. what happened to me was interesting. Instead of just being angry, I went to depression. Judging myself for wanting to feel angry, I became overwhelmingly depressed by the things that happened in my life. Without the anger, I was not able to change my reaction to these events. I just felt sad. What’s more, when I was worried, it moved into anxiety because if it didn’t go my way, I was so concerned about my own judgement, I became blind to my own power and simply let everything happen. This victim mentality then started permeating and integrating into everything I did. Work, relationships, everything… The depression eventually became so great, I didn’t know how see anymore. I didn’t know how to act or react. This year, I looked back at my life and wondered who was living it. Who had made all the decisions that caused broken relationships and copious lies to infiltrate my life… I had – all by way of apathy. That in and of itself pissed me off. It was so deep, I had no other choice than to let anger back in. I let passionate, fiery, painful anger back in and something magical happened – I made choices. I made decisions to change my mind and change my circumstances. I quit my job and moved to a new city. I had enough. Enough of the lies, enough of the pain, enough of the apathy. In that decision to feel it and change myself, I recognized that my fear of anger, my fear of this shadow was completely unfounded. It’s needed. It’s necessary and what’s more – it’s absolutely beautiful as long as it’s not blind. With this true insight into it’s power to transform, I no longer deny anger… if anything I embrace it. Tapas. Fire. Pain. It’s in this fire we find change.
Our shadows are all as different as our fingerprints. We all encounter our shadows in different times and in varying forms but the beauty of these shadows is how they make us better. This dance with the shadow is a tall order – but it’s delicious. It’s far more fulfilling than our dance with our light because it’s through embracing our shadows that we gain control of our truth. We recognize our realities without fail and see all the parts of our being as beautiful – even the ugly bits.
Buddy Wakefield said it best. “Even at your worst, you are fucking incredible. It comes honest.”
2015 will be here shortly, and I am excited for tomorrow to be the initiation of myself. The latest version anyway.
We all learn in our own way. I know your way is spectacular. I know your North is calling you. I know your shadows are worth exploring. I know your yoga will change your life. I know you are beautiful.
In this end of the year I offer you this.
You are enough.
You are gorgeous.
You are capable.
You are strong.
You are worth it.
You are complete.
You are the universe expressing itself.
You are ecstatic.
You are delicious.
You are love.
You are light.
You are God.
You are worth all the love you have in your heart and more.
Give yourself to you.
If I’ve never met you, it doesn’t matter. You have changed my life.
I see you.
Happy New Year.
2015 – come at me bro.