Returning to my blog after a couple of months feels like a little homecoming. This practice of writing is like a touchstone that I use to check in with myself, anchor some of my thoughts amidst all that is changing and share what's relevant in my life at the moment. I have been busy doing the work that I love--teaching yoga, working with private clients, facilitating a women's circle and collaborating on several projects. I recently embarked on a year long Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training program. I am navigating single motherhood with two children--one a middle schooler! These days I am finding and establishing a new rhythm for my life that allows for time doing all of the things that are important to me as well as giving myself the space to simply BE. While all of that has been happening outwardly, I have been participating in my own personal transformation. It's what my teacher, Dr. Estés, calls the "river beneath the river." It refers to the deeper, inner work that runs like a current underneath the surface of our lives.
A big part of my inner work has been about dismantling the people pleasing, "good girl" conditioning that keeps me from being true to myself. Like so many women, I have been groomed to put the needs, desires and feelings of everyone else above my own. Not wanting to disappoint or hurt another, I trade my truth for their comfort and approval. What I discover is that, over time, this kind of self sacrifice leads to resentment, anger and exhaustion. As a result, I experience the ultimate betrayal--a disconnection from my own soul.
Over the last several months I have been conducting an experiment in my own life. I have been making pleasure a high priority in my everyday life. Rather than putting so much effort and energy into trying to be good or do good, I am committing to doing the things that make me feel good. This seemingly small shift is creating big adjustments in my life. I am much more aware of the people and situations that compromise my joy and those that increase my sense of fulfillment. I am called to continuously confront the critical and fearful places inside that try to convince me that the pursuit of pleasure and self-fulfillment is unrealistic, immature and selfish. I notice the ways that I am tempted to deny myself pleasure everyday. I have been committed to practicing the art of feeling good. And it feels good.
I am calling it "the pleasure principle" and as long as it feels good for me and doesn't directly injure or harm another, I am free to pursue it. What I am finding is that rather than leading to any kind of irresponsible debauchery, I am experiencing a new state of freedom and joy in my daily life. It really becomes about choosing what would feel best in the moment and doing that in place of the thing I believe I "should" be doing.
While experiencing true pleasure often happens in simple ways, it's not always easy. The reality is that some people will be hurt or disappointed, despite my best intentions. Choosing to stay true to what I hold sacred and what makes me come alive, will inevitably create a gap in certain relationships and commitments. However, I am recognizing that the most important relationships in my life--with my children, family, close friends and work are actually nourished more deeply from my feeling good. We all benefit in the process.
What if feeling good today was the highest priority? How much pleasure can I allow myself to receive? What needs to be released, forgiven or healed so that I can truly experience the joy of my soul? These are some of the questions I've been asking myself everyday.
I invite you to step into this exploration in your own life. Begin by taking one day to pursue your own pleasure and see where it leads you.
My soul lives naturally in a state of joy and celebration. For me it's best expressed through dancing and letting myself feel the freedom of movement from the inside, out. When I dance I'm not thinking about how I look or what the next move should be. It's not about right or wrong, good or bad. Dancing is an authentic expression of my soul's joy--it's a moving prayer and a communion with my Self. Ultimately, I long for my freedom and joy to serve others and set them free to live their own unique beauty. Can you imagine all of the people in your life living in this way? It begins with you and taking the exquisite risk to be free. Our self-fulfillment is our greatest service to the world.
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