Learning to step aside and allow the unfolding of the self is, I have learned, a multilayered process. There is a shedding of the old in all of its preconditioning through past events held largely in the grasp of Fear and the many cloaks it wears. It’s almost funny in its irony. Holding onto the guise of protection only serves to limit the energy of the true self. Who, or what, then are we protecting?
When I started asking the question “How can I serve?” I found I needed to let go of the preconditioned self. And, I also needed to let go of the envisioned path. When I added the words, “Show me the way,” there came with it a relinquishing of conditions. I have found, although others may disagree, that The Secret to life is not to hold a vision so firmly in one’s mind and being so that it manifests into one’s reality, but just the opposite. The Secret to Life, at least one lived through the True Self, is to do the opposite.
The will of the mind, when removed from its throne of power, provides a seat for the soul to flourish into true being.
It’s a terrifying process, this becoming naked from habitual wraps, and the relinquishing of the mighty reign of the mind. There comes a moment, or progression of moments, when one must return to the stage of birth in all its wonderment and vulnerability. What we have hidden within the folds of our donned garments becomes exposed before it is shed as an aspect of the false self it protected.
Just over one year ago, I walked the hills of Ojai, California hoping for, if I am brutally honest with myself, one of those transcendental experiences of mystical enlightenment that many of us read about, but few of us experience. Instead, what I got was the still, soft voice within urging me to embark upon the path of yoga. It wasn’t vague, and it didn’t speak just once. Instead, it crept into my thoughts often throughout the course of several days and nights, always speaking the same words, “enroll in a yoga teacher training program.”
And so I did.
I signed up for my first yoga class more than twenty years ago while I was living in southern Massachusetts and working toward a doctorate degree in molecular biology. The yoga class, I told myself and the instructor, was my outlet. A means to destress the stressed mind. I had no intention, twenty years ago, or even one year ago, of ever teaching yoga, but just practicing it from time to time for a little more balance and peace as I went about my daily life.
The funny thing is, the inner voice, as it always is, was trying to talk to that much younger self who thought she was going to be a geneticist one day. It was not soft, though, but loud. It would wake me from sleep (I was too stubborn to hear it by day), stepping outside of my body to press against my ear before it
yelled whispered my name, Alethea!
We don’t truly hear the voice of the true self, though, until we are ready to. And, thankfully, I don’t regret not listening to it those many years ago, because I know I was not ready to hear what it had to say. There was too much learning to do. Too much holding onto before I let go.
Now I find myself sitting on the sofa, with two dogs I never thought I would have as beloved companions bookending me. I am typing away on a computer while my stomach flutters with excitement. Tonight I will be teaching my first yoga class to teens. I am only halfway through my 200 hours of yoga teacher training, yet this is where the asking, How may I serve and Please show me the way has brought me. It feels like home. I can’t tell you what tomorrow will bring, or even what later in the day will bring when I am standing in a room filled with thirteen and fourteen-year-olds. What I can tell you is that it feels like Truth.