gut instincts



This is a scary post to write.  I'll be honest.  I'm sharing very private feelings with you in a very public forum, but I believe these are important conversations that we are failing to have with one another.  This post is not a cry, it is an acknowledgment that you might be working through these feelings as well and you aren't the only one.  These feelings are uncomfortable, and that doesn't make them bad, in fact I want to get cozy with them so that I will understand.  I want to understand these sharper edges of life, explore the dull ache telling me that something is not right, and dig into the quiet knowledge that there is another way. As a yoga teacher I think and talk a lot about Alignment in the physical body.  My goal is to help students move into postures that allow them to make space in their bodies.   The hope is all of our extra space in the body will create extra space for our souls to breath, explore, create, enjoy and handle what the world throws at us.

After feeling generally not good yesterday I started to think about how maybe not feeling good is a sign that I'm out of alignment not within my body, but out of alignment with a deeper place.  My soul and spirit feel stuck and stagnant.   If I'd covered up my feelings, with various different distractions, I wouldn't have come to that conclusion.

In yoga it can take us years to find the right physical alignment in yoga postures.  I don't think the spiritual space and alignment I'm looking for is going to happen overnight, just like it won't in our physical practice.  It will take more than getting over my cold, a few fifteen minute meditation practices, or hot soaks in the tub (although those things do help!).  Finding the alignment I'm looking for might be unattainable, but the first step is acknowledging a problem even if I can't tell you exactly what that problem or solution is.  What I do know first hand is that the physical practice of yoga is a long bumpy journey.  You don't ever perfect or arrive at a pose, they are new each day.  Some times a pose that normally feels magnificent in all the right ways suddenly feels painful.  If I'm looking for alignment in my spirit and my soul then I'm sure it will be a bumpy journey to find what feels right for me.  

This journey for a deeper spiritual alignment has begun because now that I know there is a problem there is nothing else to do but start walking.

On the surface there is nothing wrong with my life, in fact there is an abundance of greatness.  Greatness includes but is not limited to my wonderful partner, my deep and caring friends, the community that is growing at my studio, the colleagues I work with at my day job, and of course my family.  Once you get past the surface I can tell you there is a storm brewing and it needs to be addressed.  I have a hunch that coming into alignment might take some courage, it might take big steps and leaps of faith, and require me to make big decisions that I'm not yet ready to make.  Maybe I'm not ready to do it all at once, but I'm ready to explore.

I don't plan on inviting you into my thoughts every time I'm thinking this over, I've got much more interesting content I intend on sharing here. Yet, as I ponder this journey for personal alignment, I'll check in once in a while and let you know what I'm doing to find the deeper alignment in my spirit and soul.

Thinking about little girls: Gut Instincts

Little Curly Haired Girl I finished reading " Lean in" this week by Sheryl Sandberg.  I'd strongly recommend you read it as well.  Frankly I think everyone should read it (man or woman).  It's got me thinking about many different aspects of the female life, not simply workplace related.

Given the current cross roads I've found myself in, I've been thinking about how we don't teach our children to trust their gut, especially our female children.  Maybe you are teaching your daughter how to trust herself and if so this is great, but looking back on my childhood trusting myself, my gut, my instinct was certainly not talked about or cultivated.  This is not a criticism to my parents, it's more a commentary on society in general.

When I think about decisions I've made in the past, I know I've made really big decisions more on calculations of what I think the "smart choice" in life is, than on what I really wanted in my heart.  Have you done that?  For example in college I would have loved to do a semester abroad.  I reasoned that I couldn't afford it, I couldn't afford to live abroad for a semester and not be working ect...  .  Yes, on paper that was a very smart choice right?  But regardless I'm still paying off student loan debt, I'm not sure that a semester abroad would have really made it any worse than it is and the experience would have been priceless.  I've taken and stayed with jobs I've not been completely jazzed about because they are the "smart" financial choice.  I've dated men long-term because they seemed like safe bets, choices that wouldn't break my heart (clearly this one has not worked out for me at all).  I don't always say no to people and events that I should say no to.  It comes down to not trusting myself.  I don't think I'm the only person who does this, I believe there are many, I'm sure some men do this, but I have a hunch that it's more of a female thing.

I'm happy to report in most of my adult life thus far, I think I'm getting better and better about trusting myself.  Finding and listening to what my gut is telling me is still hard, but I'm stopping to try to figure it out.  Even still questions still nag at me.  How do I continue to cultivate a trust in myself, a trust of my gut feelings and gut desires?   Not just go with them, but recognize and walk with them.  In the times that I do listen to my gut, it's typically gone well, but I don't always  know how to distinguish what my gut instinct actually is.

Let me take this a little further, not only do I wonder how to cultivate it for myself, I wonder how we teach little girls to cultivate a trust in their own intuition?  What if I ever have a little girl? (I'm not planning on having children, but never say never.)  How do we teach little girls to trust themselves, listen to their hearts, be strong, stand up for themselves, and be their own strongest advocates?  How do we teach this?

I've given it a lot of thought recently, I certainly don't think I have all of the answers, but I have a hunch that a few of these would help.

1) Turn off the TV:  This simple thing will get rid of the bombarding of girls with bad messages that you are fat, ugly, not good enough, popular enough, pretty enough ect....  The TV (with rare exceptions) belittles self-esteem.  Get rid of it.

2) Attempt regular conversations with little girls (and yourself) about what their hopes and dreams for the future, help them on the path that they are interested in, constantly brain storming ideas with them about how they can make their dreams come true.  Think about possibilities not road blocks.

3) Teach girls yoga and meditation.  If I had these tools when I was younger, I would be a different person today for sure.

This is what I've got for now.  Do you have anything to add?  How do you think we are doing on teaching girls to listen to their gut instincts?  I'd love to hear your thoughts especially if you have little girls!