“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor E. Frankl
MERRY CHRISTMAS. What an amazing time to celebrate and embrace family. Also an amazing time to trend back and see how to evolve from the lessons we learned from the year before. I have been writing a lot over the past few weeks, however, I have not posted them because I have really wanted to reflect on my greatest challenge in this journey which has been cultural boundaries.
Reading back to other posts, I have talked before about this journey being a gift and a great teacher for which I have learned so much. I do not think that I could have evolved more then I have going through this experience as it is continuous. I am learning to identify the ego voice in my mind that is always a warrior of fear. In addition, I have learned that anger and sadness are great healers and should be expressed. One night, I was having a particularly difficult time with my thoughts and fear. My mom sat with me and hugged me sharing what she knows to be the truth from God. One idea that was really amazing to hear was that this journey is not only a gift for me, but for those that are going through it with me. As a mother I believe she wishes she could take this for me, but this is the spiritual bootcamp that will set me on a path for living and healing. However, the greatest lesson has been a struggle from the start.
As a society we have created great fear around the word “Cancer.” I too felt it to be so fearful that I used a supportive tool, renaming it loveolution. (This now has been what I refer to as my journey) I would cringe when someone would forget my request and call it cancer. First, I think that I still was in disbelief of how I could have this and second it was scary. But moving past the whys and hows early and embracing the journey was very important. Society creates a personality of cancer and/or any illness, wrapping it with fear, resistance, and a number of other things for political and financial gains. However, I knew that I would need to ask myself why this word bothered me so much and as I made my list much of it came from an external idea. I will say that I am amazed at how each individual embraces this journey and how they will overcome this challenge; As each path is meant to be a teacher. However, there is no question that the subculture creates a lot of hurdles to jump over before you can start your journey. I want to make clear that there is no blame in this, we as a society fear the unknown and sickness. However, maybe this is the time for a shift.
As I have realized the cultural boundaries that are attached to illness, I have been so grateful because now I see this truth. It is a choice to see through the eyes of society in fear or know that your spirit can never be broken. As a yoga teach, it is no secret that yoga is most commonly known for its physical practice which is amazing. However, it is the practice of living yoga that is the most challenging. I am going to share a letter that I sent in to a yoga magazine in hopes to shed light on this cultural boundary and focus on the “shift”.
I want to thank all the yogis that inspire me to live yoga and all those that I have learned from that spirit is ALWAYS DIVINE! This journey continues to be an amazing one of all kinds of emotions. Each day presenting its own mini challenge. This has been the hardest experience of my life, but I am grateful to recognize these truths and move forward stronger, most importantly loving harder!!
Teaching and practicing yoga has been a part of my life that flows beyond words. The opportunity to live yoga as a student and share the teachings and principles is simply a beautiful way to embrace life. Each time I step on the mat, I take a moment to breathe the sweetness of a tradition that leads to freedom and peace. As a teacher, I guide each class with a direction of love and kindness, teaching with an underlying theme that each student can take off the mat, into their life. However, it is this combination that can sometimes be the greatest challenge.
For me, the practice of living yoga was put to the ultimate test on Oct 6, when I was told that I had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The thoughts that flooded through my mind, as my two year old lay asleep, and the tears, each carrying a message of fear, sadness, and anger, flowed down my cheeks. In one week I was on a plane, heading to Dana Farber in Boston; life turned on a dime.
What I experienced in the weeks that followed was more extreme then I expected. Society emphasizes and creates such fear in the face of illness, selling it on every stage possible and placing with it a sense of guilt and shame. As I shaved my head it was so hard, not for the loss of my hair, but for the profile that I now fit as a “cancer patient.”
During this time it all melted into one, each yoga class, each book, every lesson came together to form a great toolbox. In combination, it allowed for me to recognize that I am not going to make an enemy of this illness as our society would suggest, nor am I going to judge those around me who get caught in this web of fear. I choose to breakthrough this cultural boundary, embracing this journey as a gift and amazing teacher.
This is a challenge. It is not that different from others who experience financial distress, homelessness, or depression. It is an opportunity to see the truth and make peach with layers of emotion that may be prisoner deep in the seat of your soul. It is the realization that there is a choice in how you react and display courage, presenting the chance to change your life in any direction. Most importantly it is an opportunity to forgive, so that you may truly start to live in this moment.
Yoga has given me insight, strength, and great wisdom to see that it is time for a shift. It is time that we collectively and consciously work together to step out of the shadow of fear and cultural handcuffs to create a higher awareness of love.