The Spark

Start and Don’t Stop

“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just… start.”

― Ijeoma Umebinyuo

These were the first words I heard spoken at my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) and something that has stuck with me ever since. So I thought, why not make this the first installment of Your Monthly Spark.

Dharma is a small word with many translations. It’s seen in many religions and ways of life including in Buddhist, Hindu, and yogic literature. It’s meaning ranges from cosmic law to path of righteousness and my personal favorite, the right way of living.  

I started actively living my Dharma on the day I decided to become a yoga teacher (and quite possibly long before). It was more than a calling; it was who I was always meant to be. And when I heard my teacher speak those words, with hands shaking, I knew that was how I was going to break through the fear of pursuing this work.

Throughout my entire life, I’ve gravitated towards helping others. Whenever I had a friend in need, I made it by mission to be there with open arms and ears even at the sake of my own peace. Not only did I gravitate towards those who needed an ear, but they connected right back to me. I realized I did something a lot of people have a hard time with these days: I listened. I showed compassion. I didn’t make every problem I heard somehow about me.  I recognized the power of just being present for someone; to hold only space and nothing more, and I felt called to figure out what that meant for me. Let me just add that by NO means was I perfect – I was a very irresponsible young girl and made my fair share of mistakes in friendships. But, I digress.

By the time college came I thought, Maybe my calling is to be a therapist? …and thus embarked on my journey to a degree in psychology – focusing on abnormal psychology and populations in high-maximum security prison systems. I wanted to help the worst of the worst. Those who were born without a conscience. Those who learned through abuse and neglect that antisocial behaviors were the only way to live. I thought, and still do, that they should not be left alone. They should have a chance. Someone should try to help them.

I got out of school in 2010 and was hit with the same problem many my age can attest to: there were no jobs. I worked with the school, internet job boards and newspaper ads, family, friends, you name it. I landed my first job at a company that had nothing to do with psychology (or so I thought). It was a small, family owned business with low morale, some unnecessary turnover, and a lack of a human resource department.

Que my next venture: Human Resources. I went back to school to obtain an HR Management certificate and knew my psychology degree would compliment it well. After all, psychology is not just for knowledge of mental illness. I wanted to be a resource for organizations to help foster human capital – the most important part of any business.

Somewhere in between all of my professional development I began my yoga practice, which led me to my YTT seven years later. I immersed myself in study and truly began to grasp the spiritual side of yoga. The study beyond asana.

I was approached by a local school to teach my very first class ever to a group of mostly first year students and I was frozen with fear. And ringing in my ears were my teacher’s words, with hands shaking, with hands shaking, with hands shaking. 

Maybe someday I’ll get into more detail about my first teaching experience, but for the sake of this month’s talk I’ll simply say this: I walked away from that class in tears. Tears of happiness. Tears of pure joy. I had a student approach me who told me I helped them dearly with coping with their first few weeks at school. More tears. More hugs.

And that’s when I truly knew that this. This. This is my dharma. A forever student. A compassionate teacher. Someone who is truly meant to live a life full of service. To lift people up and help them realize if they don’t see themselves, I do. And I’m here for them, for you, always.

My plan is to continue to teach to anyone who wants to learn. I have big plans of bringing yoga to as many people as I can and maybe even to the prison system someday. I’m still a fairly new teacher with a lot to learn so as I continue to blossom, so shall my garden.

And now I ask you:

What is your dharma? What calls for you when things are quiet enough for you to listen? What is your purpose?

If you know what your dharma is, what’s stopping you? Is it fear? Because if it is, we can work with fear. Know that if you’re afraid, I am too. Everyday.

Maybe you don’t know what your purpose is right now. Maybe your purpose right now is to find your purpose and that’s okay. Just make sure when you find it, you run with it in your arms. Give it meaning and give it light, even with hands shaking.

2 thoughts on “Start and Don’t Stop”

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