“Who wants to share?” asked Paige Elenson, leader of Baptiste Yoga Level 2 training. “Do I want to get up in front of over 100 strangers to spill my guts out?” I thought to myself. This scenario was unlike any presentation I have had to give during my banking career. Why? This stuff was personal and unlike a financial model or a pitch to a client, I did NOT have all the answers. I could not come fully prepared. I could not hide behind my knowledge and confident facade of an investment banker. When someone got up to share, there was no hiding. We were fully exposed in all of our vulnerability. So did I want to go up and share? No chance in hell.
So I asked myself, what was I so afraid of? Sadly the answer was that I cared WAY too much about what others thought about me. I was afraid of others judging me. I had this ridiculous need to look good, to be “perfect”, confident, witty... and for all of it to seem so effortless.
Day 3 of the training was a turning point for me. The afternoon session began with an exercise that filled my body with so much fear, all I wanted to do was run out and hide. You’re perhaps thinking it was some crazy advanced yoga pose? Think again.
We were all split in 3 large groups and then asked to each get up in front of our group and... wait for it... SING! Oh and a nursery rhyme no less. We had been given a choice of 4 songs and after much hesitation, I chose “itsy bitsy spider”.
But this was no ordinary singing. We were asked to sing and dance our hearts out, the kind of singing and dancing you would do when NOONE is watching. I’m talking crazy, messy and perhaps even psychotic behaviour. And we were told to keep going again and again until we dropped any remnants of a shield or a mask... until we allowed everything to unravel, all layers to peel off.
“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” Alan Watts
Ultimately, through this exercise, we were asked to get in touch with our inner child. If you ever watch small children, you will notice just how free they are and how little they care about what other people think of them. They are their true natures. They don’t care about looking silly while they dance or sounding unintelligent when they speak.
As adults, we play roles to fit into society and we suppress our true nature out of fear of what others think. Children however are just pure love and light. If you really want to get in touch with your inner child, become freer. Get out of your head, stop analysing, overthinking and start to feel into your body, play, have fun and enjoy the moment.
As the layers started coming off, something clicked and I felt an exploding sense of freedom.
"Maybe the journey isn't so much about becoming anything. Maybe it's about unbecoming everything that isn't really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place." Unknown
That same evening, when Paige uttered those same words “Who would like to share?”, I immediately raised my hand and stepped in front of the mic. I asked myself “What would I say and how would I act right now if I did not care about what others thought of me”. I allowed myself to be exactly WHO I AM. I felt my light shining through and the words came out with ease.
We are often so afraid of being judged, what others will think, that we shut ourselves off from the world. Sometimes all it takes is to plant our two feet into the earth, ground ourselves, take long deep breaths, and more often than not, we will surprise ourselves.
How often have we all either heard or uttered the statement “just be yourself”; but do we really understand what it truly means? I certainly did not. I never would have guessed that I'd find some of my answers buried deep under the “itsy bitsy spider” :D
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