So what does that mean for us as humans? Clearly we don't want to go around lighting ourselves or our stuff on fire to promote growth. But couldn't we do a better job of letting go of the things, people, places, or situations that are no longer serving us? Don't these things sometimes become the fuel that lead to a massive destruction we would rather not have experienced?
And what about the destructive times in our lives? Aren't they often the catalysts to better things on the other side...perhaps the heat generators for those dormant seeds of what we REALLY want?
I tried not to employ this tactic at first...because frankly the idea of burning down a life I'd worked so hard to build sounded a little crazy. But the Universe had other plans...and kindly helped me along a bit by orchestrating a lay off in 2008 when the economy was wobbly. I didn't so much WANT to start my own business, as much as I needed to if I wanted to continue doing things like eating & having a roof over my head. At some point the stress of a big mortgage in a big city AND trying to start a new business got to be too much. So I did what my teacher had said. I lit the match. I burned down a few things that I really, really loved.
I sold my amazing condo in DC, which broke my heart...at first. In the long run, this was the beginning of the realization that I don't need as much stuff as I always thought I did. I sold every piece of furniture I owned & downsized as much as I thought I could at the time. This still entailed 44 boxes I had to ship across the country AND a carload full of art, clothes, kitchen supplies, & a vacuum cleaner I just couldn't live without (it's a Dyson. I hated vacuuming until we came together. I stand by my decision to hold onto it).
Somewhere in the 2 months I didn't have access to those 44 boxes of random crap, I felt how lovely it was to have space in my life instead of stuff. And when I finally got settled in my new place, I got rid of many things I had shipped to Las Vegas because I thought I couldn't live without them. Turns out I could.
Then my body was apparently ready for more space, because I lost 15 pounds I didn't think it possible to lose & got to a weight lower than what I had weighed in high school. I also dropped something else I'd been lugging around along with those 15 pounds...the limiting belief that I am not an athlete. The 4 years I spent as a cadet at West Point & the 7 years on active duty in the army were a little rough on me in this department. I constantly heard the message that I was "too slow & too fat." I heard it over & over & over again for 11 years...long enough that even after I left the army, I continued telling myself the same thing.
Until I read somewhere, "A belief is simply a thought you keep thinking over & over again...which does not necessarily make it true." Since I no longer struggled with weight, maybe I wasn't actually too slow either. To check it out, I decided to train for a half ironman triathlon. Turns out I actually was slow...but I had endurance! I finished the race & went on to run a 50K later that same year. I may not be fast...but my legs had a message for me:
"You just ran 50 kilometers. In a row. All at once. Speed is not the only metric one can use when deciding athletic prowess. Anyone who moves as much as you do is an athlete, okay?! Hear it & believe it, sister!"
Fast forward 2 years. Running has become a little tiresome & I have a hip injury. Being that I'm an athlete (thank you for the message, legs), I needed to find something to replace running while my hip healed. So I decided to go back to an old form of exercise with some good healing properties...yoga. Just a few months on my mat & I started to feel better...physically & mentally.
So I decided to take it a step further. I enrolled in a 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program. Mostly to deepen my own practice...NOT because I ever planned on teaching yoga. No way. Not this girl. My whole life people have been telling me to slow down & be quiet...which does not sound like the makings of a person who should instruct yoga. Besides, I may be some version of an athlete...but the little voice in my head said, "You can barely touch your toes, smarty-pants. Isn't that sort of necessary to demonstrate yoga poses?!"
But I love doing yoga & wanted to learn more about the philosophy, so I signed up for the class with the intention of learning how I can incorporate yoga "off the mat" in my corporate classrooms.
But wouldn't you know it. There is a piece of me wondering if that little voice is wrong again. I mean...it's been wrong about a million times before.
So I have been wondering...do I REALLY need to touch my toes to be a good yoga instructor?! My ego & the voice in my head would like me to think so...but I do not believe they are correct. Maybe...just maybe...having a teacher that is only a few steps ahead of you instead of miles & miles down the path you are just starting on can be a good thing. Maybe it makes the learning more accessible. Maybe knowing the teacher struggles too will inspire students to take on yoga as a life long practice instead of a few classes to fix an issue (stress, injury, etc.). Maybe, maybe, maybe...
And so I stand on the edge of my life ready to light another match. To burn what I need to so I can make space for this new adventure that may not fit into my life if I keep all the old adventures on my schedule as planned. Even though I have burned parts of my life down before (selling homes, purging closets, changing jobs, ending relationships, parting with friends) it still makes me hold my breath every time.
Thankfully, I'm studying yoga & have learned the importance of breathing. In fact, some believe that yoga poses are simply a way to access & become conscious of the simple act of breathing. Just like lighting the match is a way to help me feel what I DON'T want to burn. That list is actually relatively small. Everything else is lovely...but can be replaced.
What about YOU?! What is ready for a "controlled burn" in your life? Sometimes thinking of the seeds it can unlock is just the thing to help you light that match. So...what seeds are just DYING for you to do some burning? Letting go? Moving on? Making space?
Let me know if you need a match...