My friends keep telling me I’m not the same. When I ask them what they mean, they say that I just seem different, but in a good way. Maybe it’s my hair? I know my highlights are a little brighter than usual. Maybe it’s my tan? I ride my bike and walk as much as possible these days. One more thought emerges, but I now quickly let it go. Sadly, in the past I would have immediately thought they were trying to nicely tell me I was fat. Yes, I admit it. My mind was wired to associate happy with skinny and sad or “different” with fat and failure. It’s so effed up, I know. So what is it they are referring to? What are they SEEING? I embrace the smile on my face as I realize that they are seeing me: the REAL me.
For the past few years, I let the struggle of fulfilling a synthetic version of myself supersede my emerging longing to simply be myself. I’ve watched my sadness slowly dissipate as I journey deeper into my real self. I think they call this self-realization. It’s when you do something and fall in love with it, then realize you’re falling in love with yourself. It’s not an act of narcissism, but rather the purest effort of changing the world by fulfilling your dharma and being you. This thing, for me, was yoga. Although I’d been practicing yoga for 10 years, I hadn’t let myself go deeper into what it was that I loved so much about it. Then my better half (aka my monk) encouraged me to do a teacher training and voila! Joey emerged.
Through yoga, I come to a place where the noise in my mind is muted (Russell Simmons refers to this in his book, Super Rich), leaving me alone with feeling. Just feeling. Here – I’ll try to explain it. When you sit and your entire being is buzzing with feeling, sensation, energy, whatever you want to call it, you feel so deeply connected to this world you almost dissolve into it. This may sound like you begin to feel insignificant; however, it’s actually the opposite. You feel so valued, so powerful, and so critical to everything around you. You feel as if you are a node in the grid of the universe, one of the twinkling stars, one of the sparkles in the ocean, one of the diamonds in the rough. Beauty is EVERYWHERE! It’s crazy. It’s like you’re on the highest high. Then you begin to glow. There is a reason they call it yoga glow. You start to emanate beauty, love, and compassion because you’re practicing these things for yourself everyday through yoga and you become infectious. One of my friends actually said my positive energy was almost too much for her to receive while she was in a down state. However, she later shared that it helped bring her to the path of finding peace and balance in her life. So now I’m happy and she’s happy. Done and done. Mission accomplished, right? Not so fast.
Even as a yoga teacher, I still question my positive impact on others. I wonder what more I can do to help. I recently read that Mother Theresa questioned what more she could do to be closer to God, as if her efforts weren’t enough. If the mother of all mothers questioned her actions, it must be okay to question mine. Just when I felt justified in my questioning, my answer came.
Two weeks ago I went to Ojai and heard the answer from God/Source/the Divine/Allah/whatever name you prefer. I’m not crazy, just listen: During a yoga class the question was posed: “Think of one person you are grateful for”. Later that night two of my friends independently and lovingly shared that they thought of me. I almost cried. Okay, I did cry but it was silently afterwards by myself in the bathroom. I felt so good for impacting the lives of two incredibly beautiful and talented women. It was at that moment that I vowed to always ask myself a question, which I will now ask you: Given a room full of people, who would be grateful for you? Who are you grateful for? Consider that YOU are the answer.