This past weekend I assisted my teacher at Kripalu in Massachusetts. It was an extremely rewarding experience. And as I danced, meditated, and practiced yoga at Kripalu I was able to open to a new level of spaciousness within. Kripalu felt like home to me. I was comfortable in my silence, I was indulging in a new means of practice. One that involved an overarching acceptance of who I am and where I am in each moment. I wrote in my journal during my first night, reflecting on this feeling, “I am accepting all of myself here, right now.” And that is really how I felt. I was allowing myself to carry the witness through all of my actions, observing my thoughts and reactions to what was happening around me and in my environment.
And I know why I was able to open so much to the present while at Kripalu. I had a release, a healing, with my teacher on the three hour ride up from Brooklyn. As I climbed into her minivan, even before our road trip began, I had a sensation of something stirring within me. I had a lot of anxiety built up and a part of me knew that being with her all weekend would allow me to really face what I was struggling with internally. After hearing stories of Cathy’s journey as a yoga teacher and healer, she asked me to tell her my story, “what has Hallie been up to?” I could already sense that there was an emotional block in front of this conversation. That I felt a sense of shame; that my teacher wanted to hear of my success and I felt that I had not accomplished enough. I talked about my job, about how I am trying to put myself out into the teaching community while working, and how it was very difficult. I described it as an overwhelming process. I was unable to put into words exactly how I felt, but I told her about my new year’s resolution I had made: To be teaching yoga as my main source of income and to be reaching toward something bigger. I called it my goal and said I wanted to accomplish it by the end of 2014.
And so the question was why have I not moved forward? I am not simply afraid of change, it is not due to a fear of failure, although there is a small amount of that, not enough to hold me back. I am breaking the family paradigm. And this is why a part of me feels that it is unrealistic to live a life in which my job is something that I am truly passionate about. There is an underlying sense of guilt that is deeply embedded within. How can I achieve my dreams when my parents, grandparents, and almost everyone I know has struggled as a middle-class, blue collar family, unable to really live out their dreams. So many people want to travel, to write, to create, and more often than not they never manifest those endeavors. And now I am at the edge. It is an edge that I feel if I cross I might be punished because it is not in tow with what every one has done before. I know that my parents want the best for me and they have sacrificed their dreams in order to start a family and raise children. I must allow myself to detach from any sense of responsibility. It is not my job to make sure that my parents, my siblings, my friends, are happy. The biggest insult to a person is to not acknowledge that they have the power within themselves to take charge of their own lives, that they have the power to make themselves happy.
It is my responsibility to live out my vision. For without living my true dharma, I will be closed. Now I understand that I need to do the work. I realize that setting a goal is setting up restrictions because a goal is rigid and if I do not accomplish it exactly then I have failed myself. Instead, I shall call the life I want to live my vision. A vision is fluid, ever changing, adaptable and forgiving. A vision allows me to be open to further possibilities. Having a vision is acknowledging that I am able to grow through my work and my practice. My vision is to truly live the life that I was meant to live. And right now I believe that on its grandest scale, my vision is to open a healing arts and yoga retreat center, to create a space for healing, dance, yoga, music and art therapies. In order to do that I must do the work. I must practice. Yoga is the preparation for life. There are so many things that I have learned on my yoga mat and I think one of the most important is the ability to be open. When I am open and receptive then I can see all of the different and merging possibilities before me. With my sadhana, I am developing my body, my mind and my self, as a container for safety, love and freedom.
I am carrying my ancestors’ lost visions and unachieved dreams. They are not mine to carry. I am not my mother and father, my grandparents, nor anyone before. My family and everyone in my life has the power to take responsibility for their own lives. To assume otherwise is an insult to them.
And so my work begins with myself. Yoga, meditation, pranayama and dance, singing, and chanting. These are all vehicles for opening; finding peace, self-acceptance, and self-love. Creating the person I am meant to be means cleaning out all of the unnecessary baggage that I am holding onto. That way I will be able to finally see who I am. For awhile I thought I was close. Now I know I have much farther to go. Every day is a chance for me to unchain my heart, so that one day my heart can truly guide me to freedom. To let go of the attachment I have toward my ancestors is to create more space. As I do the work I am able to brome spaciousness, creating more room for light, truth and love. And more room for my true Self to emerge. For she is powerful and needs a lot of space.