If you told me 10 years ago that I would be going to India for two months to study yoga and become a teacher, I’d ask if you were from a different universe.
Ten years ago, I was an advertising and PR specialist for a French brand, doing rounds in different publications, handing out gift certificates, free clothes and PR Kits. Midweek, I’d attend my Bible study group after work, and on weekends, I’d mentor teenage girls from church and youth groups.
I loved that community, and I loved connecting with younger girls and hearing about their boy problems (a lot of them had their lives revolving around such). These acts, these connections, gave me fulfillment from being their older sister.
As someone who was considered a leader, people expected me to be a stellar example of what a good teacher should be like – devoted, active, clear of vices, and always on the lookout to share God’s love.
And while I’ve been in that environment almost half of my entire life, and considered that place my home and second family, I started to feel less like myself when I reached my mid 20s.
I remember pondering about unconditional love. Not just as an ideal concept, but as a way of life. And I realized I didn’t really practice that in my day to day. I knew how to show love to people around me in my community, but found myself slightly holding back, especially when it came to personalities that didn’t fit my own mold. I’d be respectful and personable, but would already have assumptions in my head.
Another existential crisis I recall having was asking my mentor about the concept of grace, and that if we followed these steps in order to be free, then why did I feel like I was in a bubble? Why did I feel even more restrained to express myself as a person, as a soul? I’m sure she gave a reasonable explanation, but I guess the answer didn’t resonate with me enough to convince myself that I should keep staying in the bubble.
Soon after, I decided that I would step out of that barrier, and figure out what Love really meant. The Love that God “wants me to experience.” Little did I know that it would take me five years of searching, learning, unlearning, deconstructing old beliefs and patterns, and questioning every little thing in my head.
While I was exploring and learning how to be more in touch with my soul through several different podcasts, books, teachers and famous gurus, I also started taking my Yoga practice more seriously. I took 30-day YouTube challenges, hot yoga, vinyasa, ashtanga, kundalini, and introductions to meditation – I’ve tried most of it all.
I learned that with the practice of mindfulness and with full awareness of my body, inevitably comes pure, overall awareness. Meditation became a part of my life as way of tuning out the noise and connecting with myself more, whatever that meant at that moment. Yoga was my gateway to mindfulness, and to really understanding that mind-body connection people were talking about. You don’t really get it unless you have a first-hand experience of it. Then, I wanted to know why people chose to become yogis. What was the philosophy behind the practice? Why do people become better versions of themselves when they practice yoga outside the studio?
And this was when I went on a miraculous trip to Rishikesh, India, the yoga capital of the world. What better way to learn about it than from the soul of it? Here, people greeted each other with so much respect and love, whether they were friends or strangers. Every conversation would start with a “namaste,” which is Sanskrit for “the light in me, honors the light in you,” or a “Hari Om,” which, when thought or uttered, removes all suffering. That village seated at the foot of the Himalayas opened my eyes to a whole new world of healing and self-love. It is a world where I treated my body with more respect, and trained my mind to let go of things that I can’t control, such as things that happened in the past, and things that haven’t yet happened.
I was in awe of how the teachings resonated so much with me, such as the concept of non-violence, not just towards other people, but also on ourselves. Often, we’re so careful of how we treat others, making sure we don’t hurt or offend them, and yet here we are causing harm to ourselves by having self-limiting beliefs and feelings of unworthiness.
A mantra that particularly stuck with me during our classes was called the “completeness mantra.” Habitually, we think that we are lacking, broken, incomplete. But we can never be these things because we all come from Wholeness. If we were made in God/the Source’s image, then doesn’t that already make us complete? We tend to look outwards to find things that make us happy, fulfilled, and loved, and forget that all these can already be found inside of us.
Unconditional love comes from within, and once your soul recognizes that, you will find that it becomes easier to see it in other people.
Everyone goes through a journey and finds one’s version of love. Yoga helped me awaken to these realizations. This is why I love teaching movement and meditation as a way of connecting with our minds and bodies. Once we become reacquainted with these two, we learn to innately take care of ourselves beyond the physical aspect of the practice. We learn to truly love and appreciate ourselves more.
If there’s anything I hope for you take out of what I have just shared with you, it’s this: YOU ARE LOVE. There’s no need to find it elsewhere because it already flows through you.
Tabitha Jamlang is a yoga teacher, reiki student, and a travel and lifestyle photographer whose works have appeared in various publications. She enjoys anything that has to do with movement – yoga, dancing and surfing at her homebreak in Baler. Tabi is also into exploring the medicinal side of food and cooking meals for herself and her husband. She shares her meditations and routines via Instagram @herawakening and through her personal website at www.herawakening.com.
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Posted by INQUIRER.net on Wednesday, February 13, 2019
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