I heal to serve.

This seems to be the season of change. They keep rolling in, one after another, like the wind and waves on the rocky sea. I am reminded again and again – by the clouds moving across the sky, by the moon waxing and waning, by the teachings of my spiritual guides – that we are in a season of great upheaval, that we are moving fiercely towards a new way, but that the journey is not an easy one. Destruction is required for reconstruction, death for rebirth, the pain before the rising. As a dear friend recently said: the birth canal is not a comfortable place to be, but staying in the womb forever was never an option – and there is no going back once labor begins! 
 
What an amazing analogy. We have no idea what is in store for us on the other side of all of this. I have to remind myself of that constantly – I do not have the capacity to conceive of the tapestry God can weave for me, for my family, for my community, for this world. I have my ideas. I know how I think it should look. But those ideas keep me stuck more than they help me grow. What works is staying in the present. What works is gratitude. What works is faith in (and prayer to) an abundant, loving God. What works is connection and commitment to my vision – a Divine intuitive knowing – and aligning my actions to that to the best of my ability. What works is keeping the channel clear at all costs. What works is action and faith.

This is true also for our world. It is so easy to be consumed by fear, anger, and hate. To become despondent, full of despair and fury. I am reminded over and over again of love. I am reminded of my purpose. To serve. To do good NOW, to act with love NOW, to be a channel for peace and kindness NOW. Today. With you, with my neighbour, with the shop clerk, the cop, the beggar, my partner, and my kid. And also at the ballot box, on the streets, in town halls and city council meetings, in my community and in courageous conversation with friends, colleagues, and neighbours that is open-minded, loving, and concerned first and foremost with connection, with unity, and with justice.
 
I heal to create a healed world. I cannot do one without the other. I am a channel, and Spirit must work in and through me or I will implode. There is no greater expression of love than service. This is where I have found the freedom, peace, and purpose I have always sought. This is where Grace lives. My spiritual practice falls flat if it does not extend outward to the world. I heal to serve. What does that look like? God reveals it to me daily, if I am quiet enough to listen and brave enough to hear.

This post was originally my November newsletter. Click here to sign up for my monthly newsletter today. (I promise to respect your privacy.)

I believe her.

I do not know how I avoided sexual assault. I was promiscuous for years. Put myself in countless dangerous situations with men I barely knew. I was told that I was not being smart, that I could get hurt. I didn’t take it seriously. Thought those things didn’t really happen, that I knew these boys, these men, well enough to know they were good enough not to cover my mouth or lock me in a room or pin me down while they took advantage of me. Years later, knowing much more than I did then, I am surprised. It could have happened so easily. It has happened to far less promiscuous girls than me – girls who never put themselves in danger the way I did – girls who did not sneak out of their homes, meeting boys in dark parking lots, going home drunk with strangers, drinking their drinks, smoking their drugs, sleeping in their beds. 

I cannot imagine what today has been like for women – so many women I love – who were not as lucky as me.

I never tried to say no to those men. But the scarring that resulted from years of laying myself bare to men in an attempt to make myself whole has taken years of hard work to even begin to heal. It has jeopardized my mental, emotional, and spiritual safety. It threatened my marriage, my relationship with my parents, my God, my community, and today my country. But I have fought long and hard for my healing and my faith in a loving God has been restored. A God that loves us unconditionally – that believes wholeheartedly that we are whole and good already, a God who is only waiting for us to realize it ourselves. I believe this God knows this of us all – of our America, our leaders, our justice system, our women and our men. 

I believe Christine Blasey Ford. I do not believe this means that Brett Kavanaugh is all bad. Nothing in life is so simple. I do not believe, either, that this means he is deserving of a seat on the Supreme Court. I believe women have for centuries been silenced by powerful men who keep us silent and small. The pain of coming forward has almost always felt too great – not worth it in a society that will not hear your cries anyhow. And I do believe this needs to change. Women’s voices must be heard. I believe in America’s sacred role in this change. I believe in our duty to uphold the words in our Bill of Rights, the words etched into the Statue of Liberty, the values upon which our country was founded – no matter how imperfect our founding fathers were – the values men and women of all colors have fought and died for for centuries. I believe in America, and it is because of this that my heart is broken again today. 

No matter what you believe about this man and this woman, there are some simple truths that have been disrespected today because we live in a world that values power over truth, where the voices of the vulnerable are systematically silenced in order to maintain the status quo. This is not sustainable. The scales are tipping, and the quicker we realize that we will all be better off in a just world, the better these next years will be for us all. Let’s not get distracted by the details, let’s not allow our anger or our differences to separate and destroy us, but rather let us keep our eyes trained on the greater truths upon which we can all hang our flags: truth, justice, love. These are things that can unite us. These will be our salvation if we do the hard work to make them our aim. 

If you’d like to debate or disagree with anything I have written, that is wonderful – but not here. I will happily arrange an opportunity for meaningful in-person dialogue where we can talk about some of the tough issues we are all grappling with. Just let me know.

In love, 

Ariana

Blossoming into our truest selves.

Recently I have been thinking a lot about transitions and about the anxious energy that often accompanies these times of change. The seasons are changing. Here in Cape Town, it is early spring. Wildflowers are in bloom on the mountainside, fields bursting with carpets of purple and yellow along the highways. I am so grateful for the seasons: nature’s reminder that change comes like clockwork and that it will change yet again before long; that the winters of our lives will always be followed by wild, joyful spring – full of colour and hope. But transition and change are always scary. The winds pick up, ushering in new spring air at a rapid pace. The day can change from sun to pouring rain in a heartbeat – not unlike my own internal world in times of upheaval and change.  Unlike the flowers, we humans attach so much meaning to each of these phases of our lives. We get stuck in the winters, afraid to feel the cold or embrace the dark, and yet reluctant to shed the skin of it when the possibility of a new spring peeks her head around the corner of our lives.
 
My life if full up with change at the moment, as it seems the world is, too. All of us being called upon to shed that which no longer serves us – jobs, homes, relationships, cultural norms, the status quo, the old world order – for that which surely will serve us all better in ways that are beyond our wildest dreams. I am constantly reminded how much fear precedes the exact things I pray for. I pray for change but when the Universe unfolds just so, presenting me with an opening, a crack of life just bright enough to be true - I descend into self-doubt and fear, quick to reach for the familiarity of a suffocating winter instead of being willing to brave the winds and wildflowers of spring.   
 
So this month we are talking about getting real. We are talking about blossoming into our truest selves. We are talking looking ourselves squarely in the face with love and compassion so that we can shed the weight of all the patterns and behaviors that have kept us stuck. We are talking about blossoming into mothers, lovers, women, artists, healers, storytellers, and more. We are talking about becoming the women we have always been – the women we already are.

This post was originally my October newsletter. Click here to sign up for my monthly newsletter today. (I promise to respect your privacy.)

This morning I woke up whole.

"This morning I woke up whole."

~ Ariana K. MacPherson
 

We are already a week into September. We arrived in Cape Town on Saturday after two weeks in the last days of North American summer, where we got to witness the magic of families and friends joining hearts and hands in honour of the union of two radiant souls -- my sister and her new husband -- and where myself and Ian received the blessing we have been waiting for from my parents, allowing us to begin our own journey towards marriage. 

My sister got married in the Catskills, on a 92-acre farm where golden light filters through the tall pines onto forests of ferns and fields of tall grass and wildflowers. There, in that sunlight, under that sky, surrounded by those people, and sheltered by those trees, there were only a few things that were true: Love is real. God is good. We are okay. I am already whole. Life is beautiful. Of course this was only magnified when, all of us still glowing from the magic of that place, we returned to my parents home to say prayers and listen to my father play his flute in the afternoon sun in celebration of my and Ian's engagement. 

Coming back from those magical times is never easy. I feel tender, filled with joy and love at the goodness of it all and filled with sadness at saying goodbye. But this time I keep being reminded of an image I saw a few days ago on the Maha Rose Instagram feed:

All is well.jpeg

For me, this is a reminder to practice gratitude. To dwell in faith. It is a reminder of the magic of the present moment. It is a reminder that there is so much love and beauty in the world - that we are surrounded by it all the time if only we pay attention. This does not mean there is no pain, that there is no sorrow, no work to be done or injustice to overcome. It simply means that more than one thing can exist at once, and that we need not despair for beauty, hope, and grace are abundant even in our darkest times.

A dear friend of mine used to say to me when I was filled with fear and anxiety that God can make gold out of anything, and it is true. Today, in the wake of last night's New Moon, I can feel beauty rising up around me so long as I stay connected to this moment, to these feelings, to this tenderness, to my God, to love, and to gratitude. 
 

God is good. All is well. I am already whole.
Everything I need is within me. 

This post was originally my September newsletter. Click here to sign up for my monthly newsletter today. (I promise to respect your privacy.)

From hustle to surrender.

And then God said, 
"No need to worry. 
Remember the magic I can make 
With simple things like 
Water, light, and air?"
 

~ Ariana K. MacPherson
 


This was a big month. Two eclipses and a potent full moon. Lots of grief, lots of old patterns coming to the surface, lots of fear and anger and self pity, lots of energy moving up and around and through pretty much every woman (and man) who crossed my path. Of course this is uncomfortable and for many of us the first impulse is to get out of it. To wriggle out of the pain, the uncertainty, the fear and grief with all our might. So we resort to those old patterns, those threadbare tools we cling desperately to in order to numb the pain: blame, self pity, fear, obsessive thinking, busy-ness, food, sex, booze. All to avoid feeling and listening closely to whatever is bubbling up from deep down within us. The thing is: It doesn't work. Trust me - I have tried it all.

This month I was faced with a lot of my own old patterns, my self-defeating fear that keeps me stuck on loop in my mind and in my life, unable to take a step forward despite the increasing pain of staying stuck. In a Breathwork session with Erin Telford this month she reminded us of a question her teacher asks often: "Are you waiting to live your life?" These kinds of questions usually hit me like a punch in the gut, and this time was no exception. Usually this would bring up lots of feelings of inadequacy, fear that it's too late, that I've lost my chance to live the big, beautiful life I dreamed of as a girl. But this time it was not that at all. Rather, it became very clear that there is no "someday," there is only today, this beautiful life right in front of me, at my fingertips. The small, precious, gorgeous moments of grace and light, grief and sorrow, beauty and magic that lie in my daughter's golden hair, my partner's warm embrace, the light of the sun, and the sound of my mother's voice. Of showing up to my job, my art, my body, my God, and myself fully present, fully human, and fully alive. 

So this month, as we move into and out of the last eclipse of the year (August 11th), we will gather together to delve into the things that keep us blocked and how to get out of our own way in order to create space within ourselves so that we can live and shine TODAY.  Join me for the August Women's Circle on the 18th and the second session of our Healing Love series on the 21st. We return to ourselves through each other, and community healing is a potent elixir. 

This post was originally my August newsletter. Click here to sign up for my monthly newsletter today. (I promise to respect your privacy.)

Only love is real. Let's be channels of love.

I have no choice 
But to carry on 
Grieving the loss of you again and again 
And giving praise for you at the same time. 

Thank God for love. 
Thank God for grief. 
Thank God for this open heart 
Scattered across the sea.

          ~ Ariana K. MacPherson


I have to admit, June was a hard month. Here, in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the darkest, coldest, and wettest time of the year. We are not complaining about the rain because this water is the elixir of the gods, rescuing us from disaster, but it is cold and wet nonetheless.  

On top of the cold, dark, and wet it has also been heavy and sad. We hadn't made it far into the month when reports of families being separated at the US / Mexico border started to emerge. When this kind of tragic news begins to make its way into my consciousness, it always seems to start with a trickle. A slow, steady drip of what I can almost immediately tell is another piece of soul wrenching news I do not want to be real. In all honestly, it takes me a few days to be willing to hear it completely. To sink into the reality of it. And this was no different. In fact, it was one of the worst yet. Simply the thought of children being torn from their mothers' and fathers' arms still brings a knot to my throat. And I will say it again: as far as I am concerned, this is not a political issue. It is not a Trump problem or an Obama problem, a Republican problem or a Democrat problem. This is a manifestation of our spiritual disease that goes back centuries. 

My heart breaks for the many millions who have been wrongfully and tragically imprisoned, enslaved, and murdered on American soil. It is so easy to feel helpless. It is so easy to be filled with despair in the face of such large-scale, systemic injustice. But there is hope. There must be hope, has to be hope, and at the end of the day, there is only hope. Hope in the many millions of Americans (and beyond) from both and all sides of the aisles who stood up to say "This is quite enough. This we simply cannot take." To raise posters in protest, to donate money, and to spread love. What a call for healing! For how can we ever heal this broken world unless we start off by healing ourselves?  I do not believe it is possible. In fact, I believe that the only way we can heal this world is by healing ourselves.

The only way we will put an end to wrongful imprisonment, racism and white supremacy, the patriarchy in all its various manifestations, the destruction of our planet, the opioid epidemic, school shootings (the list goes on) is by healing the spiritual wound within each of us so that we can replace whatever fear is filling our hearts with love. When this love becomes the dominant force in our world, the world will be as new. 


I pray for love. I pray for justice. I pray for unity. I pray for healing.
Let’s continue to heal ourselves so that we can be channels of love


In my experience, soul healing cannot happen alone. 

Join me for our July Women's Circle where we will explore the themes of love + fear as they relate to our own journeys to connect with each other, ourselves, and the Divine. I will share from my own experience, lead the group in some breathing and meditation, and provide opportunities for journaling and sharing, as well as a chance to touch base on any intentions set last month during the June Circle. 

I will also be introducing a new series on love + relationships. Drawing on a lifetime of experience trying to run away from my own pain by running into the arms of a lover, I will share what has worked for me on my own path of healing from divorce, betrayal, and years of losing myself to others, and provide safe space for you to share a with each other as you navigate this scary and intensely healing path. Critically, we will explore how to use these losses and betrayals as opportunities to move towards ourselves and towards God, rather than continuing to run.  

This post was originally my July newsletter. Click here to sign up for my monthly newsletter today. (I promise to respect your privacy.)

Find the place where God lives.

The day begins and ends in birdsong;  
Blue ibis rising in unison from the 
Glowing sea grass, 
Flamingos with their long legs and pink backs 
Dancing through shallow, glistening sea, and 
Tiny yellow-bellied birds flitting across the morning sky 
In search of water or food or each other. 

They could simply be playing, I suppose 
Dancing through the sky for each other 
Forgetting for a moment their survival.  

This place is full up with poetry: 
The way the morning light glows against the grasses, 
The sunshine yellow bird outside my window, 
The mountains rising from the mist above of the lagoon,  
And the marshy sea grass stretching out in front of me, changing shape and colour with the tides.  

Whatever despair my heart may feel, whatever love 
I can lose or find it here; 
I can be quiet enough to find that still place where God lives 
And for a moment, call it home. 


I wrote this poem on a little slip of land that lies between the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean and the calm, dreamy waters of the Langebaan Lagoon. A place I can safely call heaven, right at the tip of the earth down here in Africa. My family and I have traveled to Churchhaven, an old fishing village on South Africa's West Coast,  for the past three years, and every year my spirit feels as though it has been created anew on those quiet shores. I am reminded of the power of God and love in the rich colours of the sea grass, the sun rising and setting before us, and the thunder and lighting crashing down in the distance. What a gift to slow down for a few days with the people you love. To be freed from distractions, from ego or fear, from the worldly clamours of our every day lives, of ourselves. When I am there, I am reminded of my place on earth, the big beautiful reality of it all, the things that really matter, and the things that don't.

I have been thinking about these things a lot recently. There are changes in my life I know need making, but it is so easy to become weighed down by fear and self-doubt and for these to manifest in anxiety, irritability, and the incessant drive to always find something more pressing - something (seemingly) more important to attend to - than my own spirit, my own creativity, my own life. As I've said previously, my desire to walk alongside others on their own journeys to uncover, discover, and recover themselves is firmly rooted in my own process of healing over the past decade of my life. For almost 10 years now, I have made the discovery and recovery of my true self - the self God created and has always loved - my highest priority, and the gifts have been remarkable. It has certainly not always been easy, but it sure as hell has been worth it.

And so it continues. As I walk this road - sometimes filled with fear, sometimes with faith - there is nothing more powerful than walking it alongside others. There is no greater gift than, emerging from one of life's great heartaches or challenges scarred but stronger, turning around to a sister or brother to say when they are in pain, "Me too. I was there, and I got through. This is how I did it. I am here for you. The pain is real and hard now, but the light on the other side is radiant." 

Hey, I'm here for you. It may be hard today, but don't hit the easy button on your pain by reaching out for a quick fix. Learn to regard your pain as a teacher and give yourself a chance to learn. I promise, sticking around for the lessons will change your life.

As always, I love you. 
Ariana

This is a love letter.

"I know these past few years have been hard and painful.
I know you have felt at times like God abandoned you, and perhaps even like some of us – your friends and family – had abandoned you too, and – perhaps worst of all – as though you had abandoned yourself. The miracle is that we are never abandoned! When we commit ourselves to this work – to this God-guided path of and towards love – we learn how to walk steadily beside ourselves, in partnership with God and each other the whole time. And abandonment shifts. It loses its power. It doesn’t disappear, of course. I am still filled with fear regularly, catching myself in it and having to pull myself out with firm compassion. But somehow it no longer feels life threatening and there is so much more ability to trust myself and God, to trust that the end of all of this is a life filled with love... 

I want you to know that however it may look to you - however imperfectly and haltingly you may have walked at times - this is how you have faced these years. You have walked through it all with courage, dignity and grace. You have been beautifully imperfect, courageously flawed, and an exquisite example of what it looks like to be a human in this world who is doing her absolute best in the hardest of circumstances." 


Late last year, on the anniversary of the birth of one of my dearest friends, I wrote her a love letter. This woman has taught me innumerable very important things about myself, about God, and about life, but most of all she has taught me about love. She has taught me the power of God's love on the human heart, and the power of the human heart to be a channel for God's love. The gifts she has given me have changed my life, and being able to be there for her during her hardest times has been one of my greatest honours.

When I say that I heal to serve, what I mean is: I love you. 
There is no greater joy for me than to be able to use my own experience, my own pain, and my own healing to walk beside other women on their own healing journeys. What an honor! When they told me I could have a life beyond my wildest dreams, I never believed it could be so simple and yet so profound. Connection with other women has been the guiding light on my healing path. 

I believe that we are inextricably linked to one another and that while those links cannot be broken, they can be forgotten. I write to remind myself that I am connected to you and to the Divine, and I hope I will remind you of the same.  If you are looking for connection with yourself, with others, and with the deeper world around you - let's chat. I offer Women's Circles and one-on-one Wild Heart Sessions: two different ways to connect in order to come home to yourself. 

Read the full piece here. 

This post was originally my May newsletter. Click here to sign up for my monthly newsletter today. (I promise to respect your privacy.)

Me, too.

I have been trying to find a way to tell my story for years. Over the years it has come out in snippets. I have found words for it a bit at a time, but never had the right combination of courage and language to get it out properly – to string the pieces together, to really say what it is I want to say. Honestly, even as I sit down to write this I’m not 100% sure what the right words are, what that thread is that will bring it all together, or what it is exactly I want to say. What I do know is that over the past 24 hours, following last week’s breaking NY Times story of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment and assault of countless Hollywood actresses, the internet has been flooded with women’s accounts of their own stories of sexual harassment and assault, ranging from what have come to be regarded as everyday experiences like cat-calling to the more violent and egregious acts like groping or rape. 

Today, my Facebook news feed was almost entirely filled with women posting “Me too” followed by their own stories of assault, harassment, and shame. Filled with what felt like a loud break in the silence of so many years and so much internalized shame. And while I knew on some level that this is daily reality for most of us (women), to read it again and again, one story after another, gave life and light to it in an entirely new, real, painful and powerful way. The truth is coming out of the shadows. Women are speaking up. We are no longer willing to remain convinced that our silence is necessary to confirm our worth – that our compliance is the best way to get by, or that we have to stay small and silent to be safe. We are realizing, it seems, that the power of truth telling is greater than any of us could have known. 

And so, I am going to try. I’m going to try to start putting the pieces together, to tell the story as best I can because I believe it will be my redemption. It will be painful at times, I'm sure, but nothing is more painful than silence, and I have come to believe that whatever pain and suffering we go through in this life is worth nothing if it cannot be used to help someone else. And one of the surest things I know is that I have not suffered alone, and that we are being called to use our collective voice to speak truth to power, to cast light into all the dark places of our own souls and the soul of our society so that each of us – man and woman – can step more fully into our truest selves, the selves that God made us to be, imperfect but full of love. 

As a woman, I have been objectified for years - led to believe that my most valuable asset(s) are my physical ones and that my self-worth comes from perfecting and displaying those at any cost. That was my greatest, most valuable currency to please others so I could get what I was after – love and connection -- and be seen. It was the only currency I knew, the only solution I had. 

This caused me to stay silent when I wanted to say, "No." It caused me to spend years chasing after love, acceptance, and belonging with so much desperation that I allowed myself to be led into dark, scary places physically, emotionally, and spiritually, abandoning and betraying myself again and again. It was like a whirlpool. I didn’t know its power until I stepped into it, but by that time it was too late. So, whenever I have heard talk of sexual harassment and assault I have shut down. I have carried so much shame – been convinced that I really did “ask for it,” as they say, that I was the central force behind my pain and powerlessness, not the men who paraded me around like a trophy, pushed my head down between their legs, rubbed their crotches up against me in the club, stalked me and exposed themselves to me at The Cloisters only to wave at me later like nothing happened, left bruises on my back and on the inside of my thighs, or were so much bigger than me that alone, a teenager in the back of a minivan in a remote field, saying “No” did not feel like the safest or smartest option. 

This is not to say that I had no part to play in the whole thing. Perhaps the most insidious thing about all of this is the way we women internalize it, buy into the whole system and sell ourselves out, diving head first into the whirlpool, convincing ourselves that we must stay small and pretty and silent to protect ourselves, only to come out years (or decades) later full of self-loathing and shame with no idea how to love anyone, especially ourselves. And it is not to say that the men have an easy time of it, either. Their story, their pain, is different, but I have known for almost as long as I can remember that the men and boys I have been surrounded by since high school are suffering in deep, dark, painful ways that they certainly do not have words for. As Glennon Doyle says so beautifully, we all find a way to tell our truth somewhere. We will always find a way to tell the world “I am not fine.” 

But I can say now that it was not all my fault. This world we live in teaches men to see women as their objects. Not to ask before they reach down our pants, push up against us, use our bodies as playgrounds, and speak about us – to our faces and behind our backs -- with unkind, unholy language, as though we are countries to be conquered and won, pillaged for their own personal gain. It teaches us women to take it on the chin. That “boys will be boys,” and that even in the most violent and traumatic of these events, we are likely to be told that we had it coming. I did not have it coming: not when I was 13 or 23, and I would not have had it coming if it happened today. Nobody has it coming. God created us noble, and no matter how imperfect we are, that nobility is a standard we can all be held to. No one is beneath it. Boys will not "be boys" unless we continue to hold them to standards far lower than those God intended for them. Boys will be noble children of God, and so will girls, if we raise the clarion call that love is the answer. Be brave. Open your hearts. Ask the hard questions of yourself, your friends, your parents, children, and loved ones. Have meaningful conversations about what it means to be a man or a woman in this world and about how we can help each other to do a better job of it. Speak your truth, so that in ten or fifteen or twenty years our children do not have to use the hashtags #metoo or #ihave.

Listen, exhale, trust,

Tonight, in yoga, I asked myself: “What is my body trying to teach me? What has it already taught me, here, in these rooms, on this mat? What have I learned from you?” I kept going with the class, reflecting on those questions as I moved from one pose to the next, my center strong, my balance holding firm, my body moving through the air as through water. That is one of my favorite feelings – my body holding itself, moving with grace and precision and control into exactly the next right place. To know when and where to hold, to let go, to move. To feel safe and in control. To know that I can trust my body to take me where I need to go. To be present with myself, taking instruction from outside and integrating it completely with my deepest inner knowing. And when that happens, I flow.

And then it comes to me “My body has taught me that when I am present with myself, when I go inside and pay attention, when I listen for and to that still small voice inside, it is there. Not only is it there, but it knows exactly what I need to do - knows how to integrate all of what I’ve heard and learned to allow me to express what I need, what is true: Lift off your hip. Lean back. Engage your shoulders. Open your chest. Press your outer foot into the mat. Pull into your center. Keep your focus. Soften. Sink. Be still.

I know what to do. When I pay attention, when I listen, when I show up day after day and remain committed to myself and my practice, the miracle happens. When I listen to that still small voice my body can do things I never thought it could do. I have shown myself time and again that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. That I am capable of moving in ways I never thought I could move. That poses which once seemed impossible suddenly are not, and not only are they not, but they become weightless and joyful. I become free. That when I listen to that voice, that which once felt impossible – this thing that once felt so unknown to me – my body – becomes a vessel through which I can feel alive, held, and whole. And then I think: Maybe my still small voice can do that in ALL areas of my life? Maybe, if I remain committed to trusting that voice, I can experience that same liberation off the mat as I have experienced on the mat. I know there are days when I will not get it right – those days happen in yoga, too – but in yoga it’s the practice of coming back to my mat, being willing to stay ON my mat even when I want to jump off, and always bringing myself back to myself, that serves me best. Maybe I just have to do the same thing out there: Stay committed. Keep coming back to myself. Pay attention. Practice listening for that still soft voice. Be quiet. Hear her. Take direction from her. Trust her. Have faith that she knows. 

The class ends and we are lying in savasana. It’s quiet and dark and I feel peaceful and steady. Almost out of nowhere, I hear a calm, tender voice within me say “I’m sorry,” with so much love and humility, so much grace, that it catches me off guard. But I know it is me – the deep, warrior, divine, adult me – speaking to my younger, scared, teenage self. I hear her reply with love and forgiveness, with a knowing that my apology is real and true, that her fear, hurt, anger, and disappointment have been acknowledged and heard, “It’s okay,” she says. And in that moment, I know that there is no easier softer way. There is nothing, no one, to exhale into except my own arms, that great inner resource inside me. I am what I have always been looking for. There is no one else to be my savior, no one else to be my hero or my best friend, except me. And because God loves me just as I am, just as I have always been, I can forgive myself for loving myself so imperfectly. I can exhale completely into myself. I don’t have to wait for Ian or anyone else to make me feel loved or held or safe. I am in charge of that now, and it’s not lonely. It’s liberating. To trust that if I keep paying attention, keep listening, keep coming back I will always know exactly where to put my body, my heart, and my soul.