How Can I Serve?

yoga woman
Image Credit: Pixabay

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 next 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 (it was a paid program) 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! 

For Truth.

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. And, 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.


Lists for the Universe

When I was a teenager I was obsessive about making lists. I would put everything I needed to do for the day or the week on my lists, outside of the ordinary sort-of things like brushing teeth and making my bed. I even had a scrap of paper that I would pull out every couple of days and tack to the bulletin board above my desk that said, “Shave Legs” in curly cue letters. Yep, I had a bit of OCD.

By the time I went to college I had stopped making lists. Instead, I secretly laughed at my over-organized classmates who would pull out their planners with every minute of their day scheduled. I figured, if I couldn’t remember what I needed, than it either wasn’t important, or I was on an early road to senility.

Of course there is something to be said about those list-makers. The one peer in particular who comes to mind, although a bit uptight, was an excellent student. Someone she managed to graduate from Bowdoin with a triple major. I thought I was doing well with a double!

Last week I started a list and fixed it to the side of my fridge. No, it’s not a grocery list, although I discovered the advantages to having a regular log of “foods needed” once I moved out of my parents’ home. The list on the side of my fridge is a list to the universe. Yep, the universe.

If you’ve read or watched The Secret you probably have a good idea already about what is on my list.  Instead of items I plan to get though, I have statements such as “Alethea has a published manuscript of her memoir and a great agent;” “Alethea’s chakras are open and she no longer needs thyroid medication;” “Alethea no longer grinds her teeth at night,” etc. You get the picture?

Actually it’s all about pictures. The idea behind my list (which is currently 13 items long), is to state desires and goals as though they have have already been achieved. I was spurred to make the list, not by The Secret, but my psychic dev. instructor. I had heard about this concept through several sources, and thought okay, time to give it a try. Apparently within days of stating on her list that she had a set of “four almost-new tires,” for her mini van, my instructor’s neighbor had set out four tires on his front lawn with a “Free” sign attached to them. They were in great condition, and they happened to fit her van.

A coincidence, or was it the universe working to make her dream a reality? Think about how easily things come to some people, in particular people who don’t worry excessively and always seem to have a sunny outlook on life. Kids are a great example. Within months of deciding she wanted to have an American Girl doll, my daughter suddenly had five. Yep, five (only one is new). It’s called the Law of Attraction. The universe gives to us what we send out. If we worry obsessively about money, we’ll be over-whelmed with financial challenges.

I have an obsession with being late, just ask anyone who knows me. I worried so much about being late for my first psychic dev. class,  that I was late. Hours before the class I thought obsessively about the weather and if it was going to turn to freezing rain and delay my journey. I worried about my husband making it to our meeting place on time to pick up the kids and whether we would find parking places near each other. I worried about finding the classroom and the right entrance to the building.

The rain had stopped freezing by the time I was on my way to meet my husband. (A small sigh of relief.) I got to Main Street and searched for a place to park near the restaurant where we were to meet up. None opened up. Panicking, I ended up parking in a fire lane, while I called my husband. The call went through, then it cut out. I called again, same. And again. Yep, his phone happened to break on this night. To make a long story shorter, I finally found his car, gave him the kids and cursed my way to class. I went in the wrong entrance and found a kind man who helped me navigate the maze of hallways. I was ten minutes late. Could have been worse, I know, but my obsessive worry had manifested into reality.

So, I’m going to give this list thing another go. Jean Houston,, is one of the many spiritual leaders of our time who talks about this concept. Not only does she recommended putting that statement out there, but imagining, living and breathing it. If you want a new car for example, in your mind paint it the shade of blue you desire, visualize the model and year. Step inside of it and inhale that new upholstery. Turn the key and shift it into drive. Feel the rhythm of the tires on the pavement. Hear their hum. Taste that glass of wine (or beer, or soda, or water…) you’ll drink in celebration after you’ve signed the paper. Cheers!