“Just who on earth do you think you are, little miss-know-it-all?!” barked my harsh, deeply unkind, inner critic.
“Yoga Expression Spirit, my foot! What are you THINKING, taking on not just one but THREE broad and grand topics?! Don’t you know you can fill a library (or two or three or more) with all the books and wisdom on any one of these mammoth subjects? What on earth do YOU think you can possibly add?”
There it was, my greatest fear, loud and proud, standing front and center. Boy, did that one get me all kinds of wrapped around the axle. I muddled and rolled around with that one for a few days, paralyzed with rampant self-doubt. Who did I think I was? What could I possibly add? Perhaps I was a wee bit too big for my britches. These thoughts had their way with me, circular and judging, and I could feel myself shrinking with each passing day.
Just a few days earlier I had uncovered an answer that propelled me out of misery and into a new adventure. All the quiet certainty that arrived with that insight had, sadly, almost entirely evaporated.
And then a quieter, but equally powerful, inner voice interjected, “Dear One, who are you not to add your voice to the chorus?”
Of the many doubts, fears and voices that daily dance through my head, this is the voice to which I listen closely. This is the thought that propels me forward.
It is true that some of the greatest wisdom thinkers and teachers have weighed in on these topics for millennia. There is nothing revolutionary that I can bring to these individual topics. Then again, perhaps, just perhaps, there is something of value in my message of their combined value to our authentic lives. I like to think so. That is certainly my hope.
All I can know for sure it that Yoga, Expression and Spirit are the tools I use over and over again to return to my authentic self and to my authentic life. While I will not attempt to fully and universally define any one of these items, I can certainly share my understanding and experience of each separately and also collectively. It is in that spirit, I offer these thoughts to you.
Y E S
Consider a wheel. It rolls most efficiently when it is 1) made of quality materials, 2) properly inflated and 3) precisely balanced. Neglect any one of these factors and your will kathunk down the road. And so it is also with what I call the YES Wheel of our lives.
While I have visually represented these three tools as distinct and separate, in reality there are no lines to divide them. Each tool blends into the other, seamlessly connected. Just as there is but one wheel, the three factors for efficiency and effectiveness (and just plain ‘roll-ability’) are intertwined. When all three are functioning, the ride is smooth and enjoyable and the wheel is a non-issue. When even one factor is missing, forward motion can be impeded or even completely stopped.
For me, Yoga, Expression and Spirit are the Athos, Porthos, and Aramis of our authentic lives. They protect, feed, nourish and support each other. One for all, and all for one!
And still, for the purpose of clarity, let’s briefly define each tool to erect the framework.
‘Y’ is for Yoga
While the definition of yoga may differ widely based on the school of thought or discipline, the following definition serves me well:
‘Yoga – A science for living well, bringing mind, body and breath together in the present moment.’
While some think only of tight or scant clothing, lithe bodies, guru-like teachers and impossible looking postures, these are the gifts that yoga provides me:
- A spring cleaning for the body and a good sweeping of the mental cobwebs
- Brings suppleness to the muscles for agility and flexibility
- Quiets the body
- Quiets the mind
- Creates spaciousness physically and mentally
- A preparation tool for meditation and creation.
‘E’ is for Expression
‘Expression – The process of bringing to life one’s thoughts, insights or feelings.’
At its heart, expression is making or creating, drawing out, bringing forth and bringing to life. The gifts of expression that I readily experience are:
- A sense of being in the Flow of life
- A form of meditation.
In the throes of Expression, my mind becomes quiet, focused and calm. I am filled with the joy of making or creating.
‘S’ is for Spirit.
This, my friends, it perhaps the most broad, deep and tricky piece of the pie. In one respect, Spirit is an utterly unknowable Mystery. At the same time, Spirit is as close as our breath. This is where my sensibilities lie.
‘Spirit – The Mystery we engage with and through our breath.’
Through breath work, stillness and meditation, I have come to know Spirit as:
- Life Force
- Inner Stillness
Yoga Expression Spirit — Y E S. By incorporating these three tools into my daily life, I can quiet my mind, live and love well and create a spaciousness for the expression of my authentic life.
Tune in next time: So, what do you mean by Authentic Living?