Lovelies - many of you know that I am in a difficult season: the tears, pain and angst that come from major life change presenting themselves to me at random.
And I haven't been sharing them with you for your pity or attention but rather to demystify the false belief that following a spiritual path exempts us, somehow, from the natural human emotions of sadness, loneliness and grief.
Lately, my practice has asked me to keep being REAL with MYSELF during this difficult time: giving myself the permission to be messy and to deeply listen for what I need (which cyclically varies from a yoga practice, to a meditation, to a bath, to a cry, to a bestie chat, to some pizza / wine / ice cream / Netflix).
It's not easy, though, in a world that pulls me all in a million directions and tells me to put myself last.
Last weekend, I was gifted time alone on the beach by myself (which seems to be where Spirit speaks most clearly). I was immediately drawn to the gorgeous shells lying on the shoreline I really wanted to find a *perfect* one to bring back to Maple, but... I couldn't! They were all broken: one in half, another in the corner, another in the middle. Where are the PERFECT ONES?!? I shouted.
A question to which I, almost immediately, threw up my hands, looked to the sky, and laughed at God. Oooooh, riiiiiiight. They are all broken. I forgot.
So, I sat with one for awhile and let her speak. I fingered her delicate groves and intricate design contemplating how this beautiful creation just popped out of nowhere to supply a creature with a home for a short while.
Can you see that, while I'm broken, I'm beautiful, too, she asked? Yes, see my wound, but also see my beauty, okay? Please pay attention to both. And so I did, looking into the most perfect mirror for me in that moment, taking in its medicine.
After the message was received, I began to head back to the car when I came upon a small crowd. What could they be looking at I nosily wondered as I nudged my way through to see the action.
In the midst of the circle lay a gorgeous ocean bird with broken legs, sweetly sitting with her eyes closed, patiently waiting for death to come. We stood there almost ceremoniously, our silent prayers woven around her body like an ethereal wreath.
I couldn't help but notice how this beautiful, broken one was so attractive to us, surrounded by so much unconditional love in her time of need. With eyes closed she couldn't see it, but I know that she felt it and maybe that was what mattered the most.
And on my meditation seat, when I take a moment to pause in the midst of my suffering, I can sense that while I feel so alone these days, I'm not. That amidst the pain, "there is an immense tenderness that is endlessly giving itself to me in all situations" (Fr. Richard Rohr).
That this loving and gentle One is still holding, rocking and comforting me during this cruxifixction; if I stop and pay attention, I find Her right here with me at all times, circumstances and places, reminding me that "while pain is inevitable, suffering is optional" (Buddha).
And just like the attractive yet broken bird, I can sense that in my darkest moments I am a magnet for angels, loving ancestors and guides who are, no doubt, all circled up around me, praying quietly, offering comfort, just waiting to help if I give them permission.
This belief that my brokenness makes me unlovable is one I'm trying to heal, one moment at a time, remembering that, as my guru Brene Brown says, it's in our brokenness that we make the deepest possible connections to one another and to life.
The real medicine, though, comes when I personally keep showing up for myself in these dark moments, just as the God(dess) does, offering myself the same unconditional love, compassion, and tenderness that this Loving Presence so effortlessly gives me.
I am over the moon to be able to share the gifts and teachings and tools that are helping me through this difficult season with my Milwaukee yogis this winter, when powerhouse singing bowl goddess Kathryn Rambo and I will team up to teach a research-based workshop on how to love yourself in the midst of your own dark season, whether that's simply through the winter months or your own spiritual journey from darkness to light.
I hope you can join us (read more about the workshop here and contact me to register), and remember to take a moment to find both the cracks and the beauty that is you the next time you pause to sit with this one right here.
So much love to you always.
Yoga Teacher and Student, Speaker, Writer, Mother, Wife, Friend, Daughter, Sister, Human