This feels like a good time to chime back in. How have you been doing through all of this? There seems to be a wide range of responses to this question, depending upon how directly your life has been impacted. Personally, I had to shut down Austin Ashiatsu which definitely gave me a bit of anxiety in the beginning. Partly because my decision wasn’t just affecting me, it was affecting my entire staff, but when I got out of my head and listened to my heart, there was no question. Looking around now, it was clearly the right choice.
As I reflect on this past year, it has undoubtedly been a pivotal time for me. I honestly feel like I have been in a pressure cooker of personal growth and I have been delivered to the other side (still working out how to use my new legs).
As you probably know by now, I have been a seeker of the truth for most of my adult life, mostly approaching it from a state of curiosity. Then in 2013, I got slammed head first in the mud, having to face the scariest thing I could ever imagine a parent to have to face. In the blink of an eye, I felt everything I had built my life on collapse. I had the rug pulled out from under me. From that point forward, my spiritual and emotional growth wasn't just a luxury, it was a life line. I think the most important thing I learned out of all that was humility. Up to that point, I thought I knew something. I thought I was in control. Now I know better. Before that point, I only had conceptual knowledge of what it means to surrender, to let go. I am grateful for those excruciating lessons, because as it turns out, being good at letting go can come in quite handy.
Looking back, I see that all the work I did to get through that madness, gave me the tools to walk through the unknown of a pandemic. To be able to let go, and shut down my business with no idea when it will be safe to reopen. For some of you, this is the metaphorical rug being pulled out from under you. For some of you, this is the break you have needed for a long time, but just weren’t willing to take it. Some of you are going stir crazy being cooped up 24/7 with your partner or your entire family (or just being cooped up with your own thoughts). For some of you, this break has helped you realize what is truly important. The beautiful thing is that no matter what your response might be, we are all in this together. That is why I am recommitting to showing up in this format. I have a lot of gold to share from my journey, and this feels like the perfect place to start sharing it. I am granting myself permission to begin again. Right here. Right now.
And this post is about identity.
What I have come to realize about this past year is that as I have been healing my relationship with my past, I have simultaneously been inadvertently releasing parts of my personality that have kept me trapped in fear and lack. Now, I have this unique opportunity to redefine myself on my own terms. In order to get to this place, I have had to release and let go of the beliefs and the stories that were actually hurting me.
Letting go of the things that aren’t serving you so you can make room for what you want isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. However, this global crisis, believe it or not, can be used as an opportunity to clean out your closets, both literally and metaphorically.
You may have noticed yourself getting triggered in one way or another during this time. Whether your partner is pushing your buttons or you feeling fears about money or just fears about the unknown. This is totally normal. Catastrophe tends to bring to the surface everything that is needing to be healed. When you are aware of this, you are in a much better position to meet it with curiosity and compassion, instead of fear and blame.
In order to claim the life you want, you have to clear out anything and everything taking up the energy and space you need to have available for welcoming the life you want. The reason I say literally and metaphorically, is that your stuff is actually a metaphor for your life experience. The reason why cleaning out your closets and getting rid of clothes that no longer fit feels so good is because there is a direct connection between what you hold onto physically and what you hold onto mentally. That dress that no longer fits you is taking up room in your closet that could get freed up for something that makes you look and feel great. Just like that negative habit you have been meaning to let go of for years is getting in the way of the healthier habit it could be replaced with that would give you more energy and make you feel better. See what I mean?
There are all kinds of things we hold onto consciously and subconsciously. Start with the ones that are being revealed to you. If your partner is irritating you, more likely than not, he is mirroring something important. The only way to figure it out is to get really curious. If I start blaming someone, I see this as a signal there is something being revealed to me that I still need to heal. I first ask myself, how am I like this in my own life? Then I search through all areas of my life to see if I can find where I might embody this same quality. Most recently it was me judging my friend for judging. That was quite revealing.
If I cannot find any area of my life where I, myself, exemplify this characteristic, I ask myself, who else in my life has employed this characteristic? What I might find is that there is someone from my childhood that I still have not forgiven. As you well know, If I withhold forgiveness, I am holding myself hostage in resentment which means I am not free!
So I encourage you to use this unique time in history as an opportunity to come out more solid and centered on the other side of it, ready to embrace a version of yourself that aligns with who you choose to be.
Through the past several months, as I have landed in my worthiness (because that is what has happened), I realized that everything I have done in my life has been motivated by a need to prove my worth. All my accolades, my accomplishments in my field, my prosperity, even my spiritual pursuits and emotional growth have all been motivated by lack. I realized that I have lived most of my adult life from a place of striving to be better. When all the while, not seeing that I am already enough and I have been worthy the whole time
Just for fun, imagine this global shutdown is like a prep for a system reboot. If you had the opportunity to redefine yourself during the shutdown, who would you choose to be? One of the ways to think about this is to take some time to journal about what you really want in all aspects of your life: love, family, health, money, recreation. Really get detailed about what you really want. No matter how practical you think it is. Just allow yourself to really just dream. Once you have it all written down, ask yourself, who would I have to be in order to have these things? What aspects of myself would I need to embrace? What have I been holding on to that does not support this life? What do I need to believe about myself in order to embrace what I really want?
So now the question has become, if I am not this person who is striving to be better, then who AM I? This morning I did the “who am I” meditation. Have you heard of it? It is a practice by Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi around the turn of the 20th century. It is basically a meditation on the question, who am I? You repeat the question silently over and over again allowing your mind to explore deeper and deeper and as you look, you will find you are not who your ego has led you to believe. Your true identity is much bigger than your sex, gender, race, preferences. Following this question deeper and deeper leads you to an expansive place within, which is like a blank slate. It’s a peaceful place of non-duality.
What I now see is the emptiness of the canvas where we can CHOOSE an identity, one that aligns with who you decide you want to be. An identity that is not anchored to the past. Not anchored to what you experienced, or the story you made up about yourself based on how you were treated by your peers or how available your parents were when you were growing up, or how well you were treated in a relationship. None of it. You can even try on different personas until you find one that suits you.
The life of your dreams awaits you on the other side of healing it all.