Tag Archives: fate

Moments of Reflection

I heard something a few months ago that has kept sneaking back into my thoughts as I continue to work with students who, in turn, are working through their own obstacles and challenges…I don’t remember where I heard it, which is so often the case when the universe offers up another grain of truth, but it was something to the tune of, “We marry at the level of our self-esteem.” So concisely expressed, with such weight and relevance to it…Obviously, what is being communicated is that we look for a mate, a partner, someone who will reflect back to us how we feel about ourselves at the time of our search. We are looking for solace and acceptance in the arms of another, someone who won’t push us or demean us into territories we’re not ready to delve into. I find this absolutely fascinating, because in most instances, I believe it to be true.

I believe that we are our own worst enemies, and that we unconsciously (and sometimes intentionally) go to great lengths to sabotage ourselves, pandering to the deeply rooted belief that we’re not worthy of that which is great, that which will elevate us to new heights and realities. We stand in our own way. And so if we haven’t yet tapped into our beauty, into that which has always been with us but which has been buried under years of defense mechanisms and insecurities, then we seek out that which is relatable, safe, non-threatening. We don’t limit this search solely to our partners, which is why I have been allowing the word “marry” from the quote to become the umbrella term for any connection or process of seeking out that we undertake.

I believe that if we don’t understand how capable we are, how the only real thing standing in the way of achieving everything we’ve ever dreamed of is our own fear, then we make agreements to the people around us, to the responsibilities we assume, and to the roles we play…agreements to settle for what is in front of us, that which requires little or no effort to attain or to maintain. We align ourselves with mediocrity. We resign ourselves to what we believe is our fate, not grasping the concept that what awaits us is a myriad of possibilities, much like the Choose Your Own Adventure books…different outcomes lie in wait as we attempt to make the best decisions for ourselves, and in keeping with the understanding that no one is ever one thing all the time, we don’t have one scenario waiting for us in life. What happens to and for us is a direct result of the decisions that we actively make using the resources available to us.

And so if we marry at the level of our self-esteem, then we also work in an environment at the level of our self-esteem. We foster friendships with people at the level of our self-esteem, and we afford or deprive ourselves the lifestyles we have at the level of our self-esteem. We take care of ourselves at the level of our self-esteem, and we treat others at the level of our self-esteem…and, ultimately, we allow them to treat us at the level of our self-esteem.

Last week I asked the students in one of my classes how yoga has changed their lives, and the general consensus was that it brought a sense of calm and peace to them, which translated to a boost in their self-esteem, which affected every other aspect of their lives. This is what I’m trying to convey with my work. If people come to practice yoga for purely physical reasons, great. And if they’re searching for something other than that, great. Ultimately, yoga is a system of tools that seems to give people the justification they need to let go of that which has stopped serving them, that which has morphed from an asset into a liability. That’s it. Really.

Need I say more? 🙂

In Our Hands?

Ever since I made the decision to delve into the world of Yoga as a career, I’ve found myself on occasion contemplating the concept of free will versus fate or destiny. When I worked in retail management, opportunities presented themselves to me as I first began making my way in that industry, and due to my age and inexperience, I assumed that life would continue to unravel in a similar fashion…I would continue to follow the paths offered by these opportunities, and all would be rosy. After allowing this philosophy to guide me through 13 years, I found myself lacking any sort of satisfaction or contentment from my professional life, at which point I decided it was time to retreat, regroup, and rethink my approach to my own life.

A couple of weeks in 2008 found me in Greece, deeply focused on not focusing on my quandry…in fact, I pulled one of those moments where we offer up our dilemma to a higher power and ask that the answer manifest itself with the reassurance that only a sign from above can possess. During these weeks, I was reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and one paragraph from her travel tales jumped out at me:

Destiny, I feel, is also a relationship – a play between divine grace and willful self-effort. Half of it you have no control over; half of it is absolutely in your hands, and your actions will  show measurable consequences. Man is neither entirely a puppet of the gods, nor is he entirely the captain of his own destiny; he’s a little of both. (freewill) We gallop through our lives like circus performers balancing on 2 speeding side-by-side horses – one foot is on the horse called ‘fate‘, the other on the horse called ‘free will’. And the questions you have to ask every day is, Which horse is which? Which horse do i need to stop worrying about because it’s not under my control,and which do I need to steer with concentrated effort?

For years, I had a strong foothold on the horse called “fate”, until its grip loosened enough to make me question if my foot had ever been comfortable there to begin with. With the assistance of the universe around me, I dug my foot into “free will” and started riding away from that place of uncertainty, not once darting a questioning look back over my shoulder. The metaphor of the two horses  made perfect sense to me, especially because it described the balancing act that we all attempt to master throughout life, regardless of the fact that mastering it is near-impossible…we can always do our best, and then re-assess our approach when that balance starts to teeter one way or the other. The ironic thing is that despite relating to the idea of balancing between destiny and free will, my actions showed me that my approach showed absolutely no inclination towards balance. I was literally riding one horse completely, with both feet firmly dug in, until it stopped serving me, at which point I jumped on the other horse until I felt stable enough to replace on foot back where it had been for years before.

Since then, I find myself carefully taking stock of where I am professionally and where it seems to be leading me, and adjustments are made constantly. The past week has found me immersed in another fantastic book, Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner, a Montreal-born author whose work I’m loving right now is also partly based in Montreal. Cut to me, 30 minutes ago, on the sofa reading (and nursing my traumatized kidney that passed a stone a couple of days ago), and, once again, a passage jumped out at me that I believe may have created in a shift not only in my perception, but in my consciousness as well:

Most people have clearly defined opinions on the subject of free will: Fate (no matter what you call it) either exists or does not exist. There can be no approximations, no in-betweens. I find this hypothesis reductive. In my view, fate is like intelligence, or beauty, or type z+ lymphocytes – some individuals have a greater supply than others.

The notion that fate may not strictly be something consistently definable from one person’s life to another fascinates me, and also leads me to the realm of thinking where I find myself wondering if destiny is something that can unfold based on the active decisions we take in our lives. Much like the Choose Your Own Adventure books I devoured as a child, can fate guide us to where we’re supposed to be after we take the necessary steps to unlock the door of possibilities? Or are we always where we’re supposed to be? What do you think?