Over the last few months I have been open and even seeking a guide or a teacher for my life. Having grown up in the church I am beginning to understand the benefits of the “pastor” but have pulled away from religion. I have seen how so many friends and colleagues have found guidance in a yoga teacher, mentor, spiritual guide – and I have struggled to find my own guide. Two weeks ago while on a work trip to L.A. I stole a few moments away to walk on the the beach. In that quiet reflective space, while questioning where this teacher was when I was so ready and open, a small voice inside of me begged me to stop looking outward for this teacher. The voice – which often gets buried by my racing thoughts and fast paced life – asked me to just listen to myself and to the cues around me, and I would find my teacher within. Instantly I knew this was right. My heart warmed with the idea that I no longer had to wait but that I already had a teacher within me that was ready to show me a better way to live my life. After a few days of really listening and finding peace with this internal teacher, learning something new every day and really dwelling in this new space of listening I thought I was on an enlightened path. And then my family descended upon me for the week of Thanksgiving! Well holy freaking moly did my learning and listening take on a whole new dimension. Who needs a guru when you could just spend a week with your family over Thanksgiving and be challenged in every single area of life you’ve been working on??! Be careful what you ask for is ringing in my head. Oh my goodness!
This week was more than just learning – it was full on applied learning. Talk about coursework from my teacher! I think I learned more than I would have ever learned from a guru in a year! And now is the time to let what I learned simmer.
Here are a few tidbits of what I am continuing to learn:
- Be gentle. So much of what irks me the most about being with my family is that they have not bothered to see who I am now and instead respond to me as if I am still the irrational teenager of years ago. In feeling this I begin to become overly harsh on myself and on my family – by reminding myself to be gentle both to myself and with my family I was able to be more of what I wanted them to see… and not become the irrational daughter and sister that is often projected upon to me.
- Wait. This will be my continual lesson in life – and my teacher in this field has been primarily my husband who is very slow to respond or speak. I on the other hand speak too soon and jump to conclusions too fast. I feel like everything has to be sorted out right now. Waiting is ok – it requires that I stay actively present, instead of living in regret or anxiously chomping at the bit for what is next. Patiently waiting allows what will be to unfold and fabulously the Universe delivers the very obvious right timing to say what needs to be said or do what needs to be done.
- Be calm. When all hell breaks loose at the Thanksgiving dinner table it’s always important to be calm. For example, when Brother becomes defensive and accusatory because of something said in inquiry the important thing is to stay calm and listen. I have no clue where I channeled that inner calm but it came at the exact right moment and allowed me to listen, not speak to quickly and helped me to be what I needed to be in that moment: honest, firm and loving.
- Live isn’t about events – it’s about the moments. My family is an event-oriented family. We have learned to bond over very planned activities. And yet it continues to be that in between the events and in our down time we become closer. Unlearning the need for planned events and just being is such a continual important lesson. It is in these times where growth and connection occur.
- Forgive… Forgive… Forgive… I think I may need to tattoo this on my forehead. I need to learn the importance of continual forgiveness and waking up each day fresh and full of love and not judgement for what I expected someone to do. I am full of expectations on others and when they don’t meet those expectations I have such a hard time forgiving them! What a horrible way to live life so full of unmet, unattainable expectations that keep me from really connecting with someone and then holding those expectations over his/her head and not knowing how to forgive. Expectations suck and forgiveness really is an easier way to live life.