Am I “Normal?”
I turned 43 this summer.
I’m the General Manager for a successful retreat center in Costa Rica. I am a yoga teacher, a meditation coach, a certified bookkeeper, a painter, a peace advocate, a stepmother, a world traveler, a business woman and a mentor. This could seem impressive, from the outside. In fact, just the other day, someone said to me, “You always look like you’ve got it all together.”
Gulp. Do I?
I am all of these things above and I’m so much more….
I am scared, doubtful, insecure, nervous, awkward, willful, sad, angry, cocky, prideful, confused and stingy.
I am all of these things….and so much more….
I am confident, strong, inspirational, self-assured, fun, loving, kind, blissful, calm, playful, patient, innocent, clear and happy.
I am all of these things and so are you.
I am having a human experience, as are you.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali teaches that every possible state of the mind exists simultaneously and that we have access to the full spectrum of emotions at all times. Sometimes we can intentionally control or choose desirable states of mind. However, much of the time, they flow seemingly uncontrollably. If we could somehow measure the fluctuations of the mind in a way that was visible or “chartable,” it would probably look like a wildly random line drawing of a child on crack. It can be a crazy and whacky ride inside of the mind, right?
Is there hope? Can we make peace with these squirrely, haphazard monkey minds of ours? Well, I cannot say for certain that there is one universal solution. I can, however, speak from my experience, which, while vast and varied, is still only one singular perspective.
My path to peace has been a twisted road.
In working with my own mind and in coaching students and clients, step one is an exhale of acceptance. It sounds so simple, but it might not be what you think, and can take a lifetime to cultivate. I’m not talking about self-love. I’m not talking about self-acceptance. I’m talking about acceptance of whatever is present, acceptance of the “craziness.” I’m talking about a gentle form of neutrality with oneself. I’m talking about a sweet relating with every other human mind struggling with the same suffering of shifting emotional states.
“Does it get better?” a young yoga student asked me after class one day as she was struggling with some deep emotional issues. I could honestly respond with, “Yes.” Yes, when I accept and observe my ever-changing emotional landscape with tender curiosity rather than harsh judgment, things are easier. This took time. A lot of time. Time on the mat, time with myself, time being quiet and still and lightening up. The extreme highs and lows have evened out and a deep peace is more available than ever before.
Do I “have it all together?” Yes, indeed I do!
From self-doubt to self-confidence and everything in between. It’s all together, right there in the beautifully continuous circus show of my mind. The difference today is the relationship I have to the unpleasant sensations. I am lighter and easier with myself knowing that this is "normal." This is human. This is the glorious ride of being in a full-feeling body. It’s much more fun to throw our hands up in the air than it is to grip tight. The embarrassment about being human dissipates and there’s more space for compassion and understanding. Be easy on yourself, my friend. You are extraordinarily normal!
In love and kindness,