It was a warm afternoon, August of 2015, in Ojai, CA. I was attending a 10-day teacher training with Saul David Raye as part of a 300 hour advanced studies training.
I knew I was there because I wanted to deepen my education and I LOVE learning, but intuitively I knew there was an even bigger reason why I was SO called to sign up on a whim for the training.
The training itself was a Bhakti Yoga Training, which meant that there would be singing and chanting.
While I was familiar with these practices, the idea of leading chants or playing the harmonium (an indian instrument that often accompanies chanting) was foreign to me.
Yet the harmonium was like this magical box that kept drawing me closer to it; tugging on my heart strings.
On that warm afternoon I shyly went up to my new friend, Denise, and asked her “would you be willing to show me how to play the harmonium?”
She graciously said “of course!”
As my hands touched the pearl keys and began to pump the bellows it was like a part of my soul and expression that was previously dormant began to awaken.
I began to play and sing, and it felt like a home-coming. This is the power of Bhakti yoga and the chanting practice; each mantra and song is an invitation to connect and re-unite you with your essential self.
In that moment, I knew that I had come home to a practice that was deeply embedded in me.
As soon as I got home it was time to buy a harmonium and start playing, which I did, but it did not come without some major intense fear and self-doubt.
Here are the thoughts that crept in:
“What if I start leading these chants and people think I am crazy or weird?”
“My community knows me and is familiar with my teachings
looking a certain way, what if I scare people away or they don’t
like what I am offering anymore”
“People are going to think this is religious or a cult or something, and
how do I explain to them that is SO not the case?”
I struggled with these thoughts A LOT in the beginning and at the same time I knew that if I were going to really walk my talk around being my most fully expressed self, this was part of it for me…
Of course, another option would be to go back, hide, and keep it behind closed doors so I could “control” the responses of others. But at the end of the day, my interest in meeting my full expression and giving space for it was so much more important than hiding it.
So I came back from the training and while some of my worst fears did come true, including the leaving of a yoga community and studio that I had been part of for 4 years, at the same time I also felt immensely liberated because I was expressing myself in a way that I had been missing for so long.
SO I am sharing with you today for a few reasons.
One, to come fully out to you! While I have been sharing bits of my journey with chanting on Facebook and with my clients, and hinted at it in these newsletters, I haven’t come all the way out with you. And one of my desires as a leader is to be fully expressed with you it inspires you to do the same.
Second, I am sharing because I would love for you to feel into your own version of my story.
Maybe, in this very moment there is a place you are hiding, or holding back on a part of your expression that you know is ready to come more fully to the surface.
There is so much input from the outside world telling us as women how to behave, telling us what is appropriate and what is inappropriate when it comes to our expression, AND I don’t know about you, but I am DONE with trying to squeeze myself into a box just so I can “control” what I actually have no control over in the first place: people’s responses of me.
So how do you break this cycle of squelching your expression for the sake of others’ opinions? ?
Just like in my story, you take the first step.
You realize that you actually have NO control over what people think about you: good or bad.
And you start expressing the truth and realness of who you are.
What’s one small way you can express yourself today?
There are many types of expression and we were born with the need to share them. Whether it’s your artistic creations, your feelings on politics, or simply the sigh you let out when a gentle breeze brushes through your hair after a long day… it’s all natural and vital to express. Your gifts are an essential part of our future and the consciousness of our planet, and you aren’t meant to hide them.
As Martha Graham said:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”
Hit reply/comment below and tell me what is resonating for you. I would love to hear!
And stay tuned for the next email in the series, where I will be sharing a vulnerable story I’ve waited a year and a half to say out loud to you.
To your freest expression,