How we choose to participate

Written by Teresa Phelps Martin

On June 10, 2014

Directly impacts the quality of our life. Right? This is probably a main theme I have been contemplating and teaching from for the past year. Destiny, fate, free will, everyone has a different view point and really it's all subjective, (just like this post) we will never really know. But what I have come to realize is I don't have much of a say so in what is happening, but I have a huge say so in how I choose to respond. This is not a new and radical idea, but thinking about it, taking the time to integrate it, feel it and live it…consciously, this is a new process of wholeness for me.

Almost a year ago it was brought to my attention that I was selectively choosing when to be conscious and caring and well, when I wasn't. Let's just say it wasn't fun for those around me. Regardless of how I arrived at this point of despair, I had to become responsible for my actions, my behaviors, that all were a result of my choices. The biggest revelation, I was not allowing myself to feel and be real. Shoot, I was/am a yogi, and all the years practicing and studying, I was well beyond the average person. HA! Yes yoga has helped me process the events of my life, to gain insight and manage chronic pain. Yoga has been an amazing light in my life dealing with the mental, physical and spiritual aspects. It is a practice that allows you to engage with a level of consciousness that improves your self awareness. This was me, the responsible, adult yogi…until I realized that the practice was actually hiding what really needed to be worked on…my relationship with myself, how I was choosing to participate with my inner messy reality. By the way…I am not the only one that does yoga and ignores their raw truth.

Yes, really, people do yoga and ignore what is right in front of them. They tell themselves that they are a yogi, a great practitioner of self awareness, yet this is all a band aid for what is really going on in their life. This was me! This may not be every yogi, but there are a lot of us, and well, thank goodness I woke up to (and continue to the best of my ability) this shallow and distorted level of awareness. In my life, walls were crumbling on many levels, every element of my life seemed to be bottoming out, leaving me little by little. Slowly revealing I am HUMAN and I was breaking down. As if my whole life was laid out before me and there I was…all alone at the bottom of a well with a lot of darkness and the only way out was to wake up to my own shit. How I had been choosing to participate with this life, led me to a serious emotional breakdown. For years I chose to avoid the raw feelings, this is where the yoga mat is brilliant! The intellectual, physical and subtle had become an amazing potion to avoid my own truth.

For me, yoga is a safe space. It has been pivotal in healing from numerous traumas and has provided a level of love and awakening that cannot be undone. But it was inhibiting my own ability to actually acknowledge my own weaknesses – to accept that even I have some serious stuff and not only is it ok to feel them it is completely necessary to acknowledge and accept them. Some would say it was my ego that was in the way, and yes, if you are speaking of pride being in the way, I will say yes, that is exactly it. The ego is how we identify with our life, and I was totally identifying with my own self as if I was above or better than this life I was living. I get sadness, but I was too tough to ever be really be sad. I get anger, but this little angel never gets mad. The process of refinement, oh yes, I love to speak on this one, our flaws are marks of beauty, but I certainly was not going to expose my deepest flaws. May not make sense to you, but honestly, my attention had been focused on being a divine being rather than being human and actually participating and feeling the broad spectrum life offers everyone.

Fortunately, I am surrounded by lovely and amazing beings that believe in me. I reached out for help, which required me to admit I did not have it all figured out, and ask for their guidance. But I had  to step away from practices that were providing an escape route…mainly yoga. I never lost the faith that those practices provided. I grabbed ahold of my own heart and quietly stepped into the fire pit of my own emotions and feelings. It has been uncomfortable and well have you heard that saying, you breakdown to breakthrough….it is true. Not some superficial breakdown that sounds good, but a royal shattering of all that you have known.

What broke me down though is helping me build a stronger foundation that is grounded but still awakening to the highest. Yet it is taking shape beyond the yoga mat and well, the permission I have given myself to be more real, to not have everything look so pretty, has provided more freedom than any wild yoga pose or meditation practice. There is a lot more gratitude for all our different parts, humility, contentment and a unconditional love. 

If our practices are not allowing us to feel everything from anger to love, disdain to contentment, fear to joy, then are we really engaged and united to Grace, the divine, are we really practitioners of consciousness? Learning to connect the outer world to the inner world and back again, this is what it's all about, this is the practice of yoga – for me. Even when it get’s messy, we can build a deeper path that is clear and in harmony both with our inner vision of ourselves and our outer expression. But we have to be vulnerable, willing to take risks, and hold a level of self-compassion in order for it to work. We can not simply intellectualize it, make it all look pretty and think that we are creating a strong sense of alignment. Yes, go deep, but pay attention to your own tendency to bypass, or excuse some major aspects of your own self. Learn where you are and how you are truly participating in your life.

What happens to us in life is not the only thing that defines us, it’s our ability to choose how we are going to participate with these events that creates our reality. Creating a life based on the whole heart….this is how I now choose to participate.


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1 Comment

  1. Sheila

    Thank you for being so honest; this was writing was brave and beautiful.  


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