Simply Symbolic

I have finished the paperwork for my new Visa, an extension of 3 months has been requested and paid for as of today. It buys me time in the country to see what is next for me here. Justin, my host, has been such a great help to me during my transition into living in Rwanda. He is a Christian and yet somehow he understands everything that I speak about in terms of my process which for me is the practice of Yoga. Yoga literally meaning “Union”, the union of the Divine Self and the Human self  and is really a search for understanding the pure light nature  that exists within us all. Some people call it God, Light, consciousness, Spirit, Soul etc. Whatever you call it, to me it is all the same and we all have different ways of finding it within our own lives.

At Yasodhara Ashram (www.yasodhara.org) Swami Radha’s teaching focus on symbolism and I learned to see that my mind had created stories and ideas about things in life including myself, other people, even objects. The mind likes to label, judge, categorize and color things with imagination in order to make us feel safe and secure. By unraveling these stories and looking at the symbolism that I had created for my own life I began to see how those stories kept me stuck in a lot of places in my life. A simple example would be: “I don’t like peanut butter.” Sounds harmless enough but the fact is that I love peanut butter and had as a child as well. Somewhere along my life I created a story that I didn’t like it and it became a fact in my mind that I believed. It wasn’t until I was living at the Ashram and had very limited control over what I ate that I began to explore eating PB with the apples we were given for snack once a day. When I was faced with the reality that I had limited access to things that made me feel comfortable ie: favorite foods, I had to challenge that story and see where it came from and if it still served me. Although the possibility now lies in the fact that I now have created a story that says I love PB, it at least serves me better in my life as it opened up my mind to all kinds of other foods and ultimately experiences.

Can you imagine coming to a new culture with a story like “I don’t like……such and such?”  For me, I know it limits my ability to explore new things and have a full and rich experience and I know that I learned this lesson by having my comforts taken away from me so I could really look at why they were there and if I wanted to keep them. Having something that comforts me is not a bad thing but if they hold me from living the life I want to live then Yes, they need to be worked with. So here I am in this culture that has very few things that comfort me but yet I search for them daily. I wake up every morning wanting to have a classic style breakfast with bacon, eggs, toast, and hashbrowns but that is not what I get, nor will I get at some point I need to be able to either let that go or just honor the desire for comfort and provide it in some other way.

What I know about myself is that I crave structure and routine. I also know that I have a hard time creating this for myself and sticking to it. Why is it so hard to give myself the things that make me Thrive? When I am in community with others who are working within a routine I do much better but since leaving the Ashram I have seen just how hard it is to do it on my own and without the community support. It all comes down to self-love and self-worth for me. If I love myself I do things that demonstrate that love. If we all loved ourselves we would give ourselves  what we truly needed everyday, first not last! I see how creating a routine for myself that I can do anywhere I go will provide me with the structure I crave and allow me to Thrive in any situation. So that is my plan for the next week, to come up with a small practice that will help me to fee more secure within myself and stop seeking (so much) external things to do it for me. The truth is that nothing external can last forever and the only real thing I can count on is within myself. I know this from experience and my spiritual practices can be as simple as waking up every morning at the same time and saying “I am the change I want to see in the world!” but make all the difference in how I feel for the rest of the day.

Today I decided to love myself even more than yesterday and put it into action so I went out for a walk to get lost in the city of Kigali. It was a wonderful adventure and it lead me to a greater appreciation for this experience that I have created for myself in my life. Bravery doesn’t have to look at certain way or be a certain thing, but today I felt my courage being demonstrated to myself by my confidence and ability to navigate my way around in the city. I am seeking now how much this experience for me is about empowering myself to live life the way I truly am meant to. Take a risk, jump right in, have compassion, and enjoy the every moment of the journey!

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