We live in a world that is constantly telling us how to best live our lives. Everything seems to be fair game too, from the food we eat and feed our families, to the exercise regimens we implement, and the daily habits we cultivate. It's all being spoon fed to us by various "experts."
From a very young age, we have been taught that somehow, we don't know what's best for us. We are disempowered to believe that we are flawed at our core; that if left to our own devices, we would have no concept of moderation or setting healthy boundaries, no sense of social responsibility or altruism, no internal compass guiding us. We've been told that our very nature as human beings is to control, to kill, to be completely self serving, to be competitive, to struggle to survive.
Fascinating evidence in the fields of biology, archaeology, anthropology, and psychology have revealed, in stark contrast to these assumptions, that human nature actually functions largely in service of the whole. In fact, it appears that systemic cooperation is what drives evolution, not fierce competition.
To me, this evidence reveals a culture that has been created to manufacture competition and scarcity—thus establishing value for knowledge that only a select few have access to. Establishing competition as a systemic norm creates a set of beliefs based on division, on separation, on an "us-versus-them" paradigm. We are left with a society that values hierarchy, cut-throat competition, extrinsic goals, and winner-takes-all. This same society thus devalues sovereignty, community, ancient knowledge, and intuition.
Also, at some point it became easier to study the world in a mechanical fashion, applying mechanics thinking to entire systems. Like the moving pieces of a machine, the functions of ecosystems, bodies, energy, and chemicals were broken down into clearly delineated, easily identifiable divisible parts. This fostered the creation of the plethora of academic disciplines and focused specializations we have today. But what we are now understanding is that the whole is much greater than the sum of its many parts. How one part functions is never independent of the function of the greater system at play.
I don't know about you all, but I am ready to throw this whole paradigm on its head. We, as living bodies, as earth-based cultures, as beings of divine descent, are not mechanical. We are organic. We are interdependent. We are whole and we are connected to the whole. There is a grand micro/macrocosm of which we are woven into, from which we cannot be separated. This has great implications for how we view the world and how we function within it.
Turning this knowing into holistic knowledge, I realize that there is no better expert than me at how to live my life. I LOVE to learn and I deeply appreciate reading what various experts and teachers have to say, but I'm becoming more appreciative of my growing discernment and self awareness in how I digest and integrate information. In choosing to implement certain regenerative and life supporting practices that affirm cooperation and holism, I have become less concerned with what is trendy and breaking and more content with what works for me personally. In deciding to live a life that supports my own health, as well as the health of the greater world, I see that the two are not mutually exclusive.
As a holistic life coach, yoga teacher, nature guide, and blogger extraordinaire, my M.O. is less white & black, good & bad, healthy & not healthy. My goal is not for you to live your life exactly like me. My main objective is for you to live your life FOR YOU, in a way that supports the lifestyle you desire to cultivate. What works for me may not work for you. I understand to be the best teacher and guide I can be, I must be an example of that life and walk my talk. I must be the change I wish to see.
My formal education was spent training to be an environmental educator. It began to feel like a lot of preaching, and standing on soap boxes, and admonishing others into changing their behavior. I realized that I didn't feel comfortable guilt tripping people to change. I didn't feel right bringing children out into wild nature and then castigating them for not following mostly arbitrary rules. I didn't see how always telling others what to do was empowering them in any way, shape, or form, to make positive and lasting change in their lives.
I remember in the first yoga teacher training I completed with my teachers Nikki Doane and Eddie Modestini from Maya Yoga, Eddie reminded us that yoga is a "self reliant healing system." Which means that as yoga teachers, our biggest role is to hold space for someone else to do the work they need to heal themselves. We provide the support that is helpful to guiding someone towards health and healing, but the system is not reliant on us. It is reliant on the student's commitment to the practice. Ultimately, this belief applies to all kinds of healing and transformation.
As an educator and a community leader, I have found deep learning based on self inquiry and hands-on experiences exponentially more effective than the typical "producer > consumer" model of teaching. This means that instead of just telling you what's right/good/healthy and what's wrong/bad/unhealthy, instead of just spoon feeding you information, instead of just positioning myself as a "greater than" expert, I am really here on this path WITH you... Choosing to be a companion and a witness on this journey of discovery, deciding to meet you in this moment wherever you are, and seeking to ask the right questions that will unlock the answers you already contain. That is what provides an environment for sustainable change.
I'm no expert on your life... YOU ARE. I only seek to guide you back to that innate knowing I believe you already hold within. I have tools to share that have been invaluable on my own learning journey, but I know these same tools may not be what you are needing. And I respect that.
This path is not for everyone. Not everyone wants to feel the power that it takes to take full responsibility for one's own experience. Not everyone is ready to forge their own unique path. But I KNOW that my own healing has required that from me. I KNOW that my own path to wellness has asked of me to ditch the one-size-fits-all approach.
This journey has opened my eyes to the importance of being my own greatest guru. This means that I take everything I read and hear with a grain of salt. This means that my own experience is an ever evolving grand experiment to see what foods, movements, habits, etc. support the life I seek to live. This means I stay awake, aware, and interested in that experience, moment-to-moment. I investigate and honor my cravings, my desires, and what my body is asking for, knowing that my body and my feelings have an innate intelligence my mind cannot always fully understand. This also means that I listen more to my intuition that to anyone or anything else. Yes, it is a messy process of learning and a evolving time of flux and change... It is not always so clear cut, or picture perfect. But it is 100% mine, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
For instance, over the years of finding the path that is wholly mine, I've been vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, paleo, and gluten-free. I've been a consistent runner, a committed dancer, a dedicated yogi, an avid gym-goer, a weight lifter... the list goes on. I've eaten green drinks, and cleansed my liver, my kidneys, and my gallbladder. I've practiced the ancient science of ayurveda and the modern science of macrobiotics. I've also struggled with eating disorders, fluctuating weight, drug addiction, and pill popping. I've taken wrong turns and sidetracks, but consistently, I come back to what FEELS right for me as an individual.
By turning back to ourselves, our source, we begin to trust and develop a relationship with the highest intelligence we contain. We begin to manifest an incredible resource for learning and wisdom. We begin to understand how to read that internal compass, feeling and knowing what aligns with our highest and what does not. We are shown that symptoms are not caused by an attacking foreign entity or an imposing external force, but they are the system's way of relaying a message that we are doing something that is out of sync with our highest. Returning to ourselves, we are gifted with clarity, and core power, and creative expression. We see that everything that happens to us is a gift for greater learning and an opportunity to step into our highest.
So, how can you begin to be your greatest guru?
- Discernment. I think of the new scientific study being released on the incredible health benefits of (A) or the side effects of too much (B). And these studies often contradict one released just the week before... It's impossible to keep up with it all! What this path requires is a practice of discernment in determining what works for you, and what doesn't. It means you're steadfast: you are not swayed easily by the latest and greatest, but are committed to figuring out what fits for you, tried and true. And learning discernment demands...
- Experimentation. This path is very much about trying out different practices and seeing what lands. It's about having FUN with the whole thing and not taking it all too seriously. Experimentation should be precise enough to give you information that is of value, but loose enough so you it doesn't feel like torture. For me, the process of experimentation not only supports my state of wellness, but unlocks my wild soul from its cage and allows me to live in a way that is supportive of my whole system. Experimentation is really about exploration, about maintaining a beginner's mind, about accepting life as a constant process of learning. And a huge part of experimentation is to be intently aware of yourself and your experience...
- Awareness. Being present to what is going on is essential, otherwise how will you know what food is causing you to feel crappy, or what yoga posture caused your back to go out, or what relationship in your life is draining your energy reserves? Present moment awareness is the key to understanding the power of intention behind the decisions you make and their unfolding outcomes. Awareness is invaluable to staying on the path of self-discovery. It goes without saying that the body is not something to be subdued, restrained, or domesticated, but listened to, empowered, and honored...
- Intuit. No, I'm not talking about the Alaskan indigenous people. To intuit is to pick up on the subtle messages that are constantly presented, moment to moment. And becoming more intuitive greatly requires discernment, experimentation, and awareness. It also means getting out of your mind and back to your senses. How are you FEELING through it all? Your feelings are an incredible compass for indicating what is working and what is not. This may mean you will have to make important decisions on the boundaries you establish with yourself and with others so as to honor what you're feeling. It may mean that you go AGAINST the grain and honor what your gut is saying. It also may mean that you take a huge risk that your mind doesn't quite have its head wrapped around because you know in your heart it is the right way.
Are you ready to take back your power? Are you ready to become an expert on your own life? Are you ready to trust yourself and your experience? Are you ready to be your greatest guru? I believe in you. In the end, no one can stand in your shoes. You truly are your greatest teacher and guide. I know you have what it takes to come back to yourself and your health. And I am ready to support you in any way possible to do so.