I’ve said this before - there are two monumentally life changing questions that usually dawn on us at some point in our journey. One of them is: What do I want?
And the other - even more profound, is Who am I?
Once either of them is bestowed upon us, we can count on the fact that our life we will never be the same. Not in a bad way. Actually, in a very good way. A transformative way. Because you can’t be presented with an existential question like that and not feel compelled to wonder about it.
It’s at that pivotal moment that a richer life suddenly becomes available to you. One where you get to look into the depths of everything that you are. One of self inquiry.
The kinds of questions you ask yourself will change your life
And so it begins with a single question. What follows is a colorful journey filled with trials, triumphs and lessons. Your story becomes a striking thread in the fabric of all existence. For some, your story will be that of guidance. For others, a point of connection.
Today, we get to hear of one such story. We get an inside look at what fellow yoga teacher, Janice Brown’s, journey has been like ever since the question of Who Am I? dawned on her. What’s it been like, what has she learned and how did/does she navigate the confusion and messiness that sometimes comes with facing our truth.
Janice is also a respiratory therapist who is working to bridge the gap between wellness and healthcare by making yoga practical and accessible to everyone.
The topic is deep but the conversation is full of laughs. We even talk about play at one point - and discovered that both of us have a childlike sense of fun (which I love!). The biggest message: IT DOESN”T HAVE TO BE SO HARD!!! Plug in those earbuds to get inspired and laugh along with us!
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Reminder that we are holistic beings - mind, body, spirit and emotions work together. You can’t change one aspect without affecting the other. It’s this basis that motivates Janice to bridge the gap between wellness and healthcare.
Yoga and the Path of Self Inquiry
There were so many great reflection questions that came up in our conversation. When Janice first contemplated this question of who am I? Some follow up questions included:
Who is your true self?
What parts of your life have you been living as your true self?
These questions would be so good to journal on!
We live our life in paradoxes - even when it comes to something as holistic as yoga. Yoga is the union within yourself and outside of yourself (reconnecting to yourself but also realizing that we’re all interconnected). In in the physical poses, you can be both grounded and flying at the same time like in Warrior III. Yet in life we’re taught to live in a structure of boxes and labels. You are A or B (or in our conversation we used the Friends quiz as an example - you’re either Phoebe, Monica or Rachel. There’s no quiz to tell you how much of each you are). But it isn’t necessary to have this all or one mentality because we aren’t all or one. The truth is, we live on a spectrum. Our own unique cocktail of various traits. It’s when we force ourselves into boxes or labels that we force ourselves to be who we are not and in turn, suffer (because we’re living against our truth).
Lessons to Share From Self Inquiry: how did you perceive life in the world before vs. after moving toward self inquiry
Just like the labels, life used to be a set of rules but now life is so much more open. Janice lives with a lot more ease and the ability to chill out and trust. There’s definitely more faith that it will all turn out…and it always does.
One lesson Janice shares is that you don’t always have to follow the rules that were given to you. The world isn’t just a bunch of boxes &labels, it’s more dynamic than that. In fact, boxes & labels feeds into judgement.
Big idea: when you see things holistically, you suffer less. Ex. If you want to heal people and think that in order to do that, the only solution is to be a doctor, you trap yourself. You are devastated if you fail your MCAT. But the truth is, being a doctor isn’t your be all end all. If you really want, you take the MCAT again, but perhaps there’s something more magical in store for you. There are so many ways you can help heal others - but if you’r in a box you won’t see that.
What has the path been like
In Janice’s experience, it’s not like there were big stepping stones. It was more like a little pebble trail. First thing she learned to move forward was knowing to say no to what doesn’t inspire her and simply saying YES to all that inspires her (ex. Backstage work at community theatre, improv…). These little pebbles all lead her to where she is today
There will be moments when you have a hard time deciding. You’ll wonder if this is the right thing. And there will also be times where it’s messy, confusing and basically you’re wondering WTF. It all makes sense in hindsight. Plus you don’t even need to know exactly where it’s going to go anyway. Just keep following what inspires you and trust that, that will lead the way.
Yoga can be a powerful tool to help you sit with what is. To let go of the clinging and attachment of needing to know and holding onto control.
Important Questions when things don’t go the way you want them to:
What is this telling me? If you don’t know, just let it go for now. The answer will come. It always works out for her. Just chill. Let go. And it all works out.
Slow down and pay attention to your emotions. What’s it telling you, where do you feel the discomfort.
IT DOESN”T HAVE TO BE THAT HARD!!
Tips for having fun:
Fun is creativity and aliveness
Look for what’s fun: find what inspires you
Ultimately, as you learn to let go and not force yourself into a box and look cool or professional and whatever else you think you should be like, ask yourself the question: WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE?
One of Your Biggest Lessons So Far:
Get to know yourself. Do this by looking for what inspires you. To know yourself means ease. It is sukha (sweetness)
What is one nugget of wisdom that you would share with fellow seekers who are on this journey of growth and transformation?
Be kind to yourself and get selfish. It’s totally okay!
If you have any questions for Janice or want to learn more, connect with her through:
Facebook: @Yoga Moments