Jon Legend had the right idea in his song “All of Me” when he sang about loving his wife totally and completely with all of himself.
This is such a romantic concept, however many of us find it extra difficult to love all of OURSELVES totally and unconditionally. Somewhere along the lines we learned to only love parts of us. Usually those parts that our parents appreciated or our religious organization deemed appropriate. Later we learned to only love the parts of us that our significant others and spouses found agreeable or our school teachers and bosses thought positive.
But what about the bits of us that we left behind when we were busy loving only the “socially acceptable parts of us?”
What about the “edges” that Jon Legend so aptly sings about. The darkness, the hurts, the love of anything “bad.”
Well yoga has a wonderful way of allowing us to become aware of those edges and teaches us acceptance and inclusion of all those shadow parts.
Because when we only see our bright side and ignore our darkness, that darkness has a way of swallowing up our light. Creating more pain than necessary. And creating habits (even addictions) that cause even more pain.
Even in all my 20 or so years of yoga practice, I am slowly learning to embrace all the parts of me. Like literally loving and accepting all my own curves and edges.
I was talking to my friend Saiisha, a Soulistic Life Coach (Whom I must say is an amazing guide and sounding board for my own soul’s evolution. You can learn more about her program here à http://www.nestintheforest.com/), not too long ago and she basically called me “flighty.” I write this with a smile on my face because, while she did not use that word that was surely her sentiment. I took no offense to it because she made her comments with no judgement and in the spirit of love.
I have been fighting against the “flighty” title all my life. Wanting so desperately to demonstrate to the world how stable and grounded I am. Whether I do that by doggishly holding on to a business model that doesn’t work, or not changing my major in college because I was already in too deep. Truth is, I like a LOT of things (which was what Saiisha was pointing out by the way). And I’ve always been pretty damn good at all the things I try my hand at. Its just that society (and now my own inner ego voice) that says that adults stick with ONE or TWO things. They (we) are not to spread ourselves so thin, that we become Jack of all trades and master of none.
But I’m learning to be okay with being a “Jack” even though it might be frowned upon by the larger society.
This embracing all sides of me goes even deeper still.
For years I’ve attempted to banish all of the things I enjoy that are frowned upon by my social circle, or that don’t fit my own image of how I want others to perceive me.
When I wanted to be seen as an educated, independent working woman (you know like I was raised to be) I rejected the part of me that was indeed a stay-at-home-mom. Instead, I always defined myself as a work-from-home-mom. Why? Because that’s how I wanted the world to see me. As a working woman.
Then when I wanted the world to see me as a fitness professional I banished all the things that were socially unacceptable for that label.
Meat, fast food, a day of not working out, you name it! I could not allow myself to incorporate those actions into the paradigm I had set up for myself. To this day, I still Identify with being a yogini/health nut. And so, while I do eat meat, being seen eating too much of it or eating “junk food” is not how I want others to see me.
And then there is smoking. I quite enjoy it. I enjoy it in solitude. There is something about the smoke itself that intrigues me. When I was a little girl, I’d sit on my dad’s lap as he smoked his cigarettes and I’d try to capture the smoke in my hands. When I went back home after a weekend visit at Dad’s house, I loved that my clothes smelled like his smoke. Because that smell meant quality time spent with my father. Even though my father has passed on, the times I spend with a cigar now allow me to “spend time” with him, in a different way.
But oh God! Yogis don’t smoke. Haven’t you read the Surgeon General’s warning and read all the research?
Well of course I have. I’ve also read about how red meat reacts in the human body. How sugar can be just as addictive as heroine. And how being in the sun can give me cancer. Yet I don’t feel guilty about eating the occasional burger, having a bowl of ice cream a couple nights a week or taking a walk on a sunny day without sunscreen.
At some point I had to recognize that I am allowed to have preferences. And so are you. That is, we are allowed to have things that we enjoy even if they don’t necessary meet other people’s definition of “okay-ness.” We must be willing to define for ourselves what is appropriate or inappropriate for us.
When we do that, we stop labeling things as “bad” or “good” and instead start seeing our preferences for what they are. They are just a part of who we are right now. And instead of banishing them, we learn to allow them fully into our experience with a CLEAR and mindful heart.
This shift in mindset allows us to find the balance we need to live healthy lives. So we don’t smoke (or eat or shop) as a mindless escape which leads to addiction, for instance, but we do those things with the intention of mindfully enjoying them for the simple pleasures that they are. All the while balancing those behavior with their opposites, fresh air and detoxification rituals, healthy whole foods and savings accounts. Just as examples.
Likewise, we don’t over do the “positive attitude” and affirmation ourselves into simply feeling good. We recognize that some days we will be on a high flying disc, as Abraham Hicks would say, and other days we’ll be less than positive and want to scream, cry and cuss. All of those feelings are allowed in our experience too.
Those so called negative emotions don’t need to be banished with our negative preferences either. They all need to be managed. Just like everything else.
This is what loving your whole self looks like as you wake up more fully. It means allowing and even embracing ALL of your curves and your edges.
Here’s to an edge loving week Mamas.
Want to Learn How to Use Yoga to Create More Peace, Ease and Freedom in Your Busy Life? Click below to get the only yoga book written by a busy mom, FOR busy moms!