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How to Change a “Flat Tire”

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Happy Pi Day (3.14)

I hope you indulged in some sort of scrumptious baked good to celebrate.

When I had a second helping today of a dark chocolate concoction that I whipped up in my food processor, I found consolation by labeling this decadent decision as a homage to Pi Day (thank you to one of my 6am yoga students for enthusiastically pointing out this unofficial holiday to me this morning, so that I could feel less guilty about sneaking around my kitchen eating sweets.)

On a less-sweet note, as I sat in a sort of food coma attempting to draw as I listened to B.K.S. Iyengar’s “Light on Life” book on mp3, I was confronted via my headphones with an exploration of Free Will and Awareness. The book in my ears was telling me that through being fully present and aware of our bodies and minds, we are freed from the confines of desire. When we give in to human impulse and urge, then we squelch our spiritual growth—that pursuit toward a higher self—which, whether we know it or not, is something we all seek.

Of course my full belly of chocolate started grumbling while I listened to this, and a sense of guilt depleted my creative mood. So I took a nap.

Looking back on this week, I’m realizing that a sense of guilt has been following me around all along. It started after last Saturday, when I made the decision that I was working too much and decided to only attend one market instead of two in the same day. (I did a fundraising event at night, and missed St. Pete market, despite my saying I’d be there. Massive bummer.) Sure, I was glad to have the extra sleep. But regret lingered, despite all my attempts to reassure myself of my decision, and seeking reassurance from friends and family. (Resorting to asking my ex-boyfriend if he thinks it was a wise decision for me to work less and sleep more is not a good sign.)

I’m convinced that with this guilt weighing on my shoulders, it fueled my decisions (or rather, drained them) for the rest of the week. I kept going back and forth from self-punishing thoughts and a sort of giving-in to helplessness and unworthiness. (I.e., “Everyone else can work hard on little to no sleep, so what’s wrong with me?! I’ll show them… I’m going to wake up at 5am every day and stay up late working, too!” and, “Well, I already ate half the chocolate, might as well eat the rest…It will just taunt me until it’s gone, anyway.”)

Yikes, totally not sweet, right?

Stay with me. Here comes the silver lining.

I’m taking this opportunity to experience some wise words that one of my yoga students imparted to me not long ago: We are the only ones who can accept guilty feelings. By letting guilt weigh on us, it is like accepting an uninvited guest into our house, letting them sleep in our bed, without ever showering, while we submit to lying curled in a ball on the bare floor. Instead of being ruled by emotions, let us become active observers. Let us examine, without judgement, what has made us feel guilty, and look at this as our inner wisdom hinting to us of our great potential.

Similar is the quality of jealousy: when you feel jealous, take a look and ask yourself what the root of this feeling might be. Chances are, you’ll follow the breadcrumbs of guilt and jealousy, and be led deep within yourself to find your most worthy desires and an unwavering energy that longs to blossom into your most beautiful, enriched self.

When we let negative emotions drive our words and actions, that negativity attracts a similar energy. Perhaps my guilt somehow brought upon the flat tire I got on Monday. This pesky nail-hole became a lingering problem all week long when my attempt to plug that sucker failed 2 days later, leaving me stranded and holding me back from appointments and classes. Guilt is definitely like having a spiritual flat tire. It does nothing but slow you down until you take a good look at that floppy SOB, find the root of the problem, take RIGHT action (even if its more time-consuming and painful at the time), and move on—good as new, or better.

These bothersome emotions are what help us grow. They are not who we are. They are not signs that we are unworthy or failing. On the contrary— guilt shows us that we are becoming more self-aware, driven toward self-improvement. Experiencing guilt shows you are already on a self-examining journey, one that will bring you closer to a sense of peace within, and a total confidence in your self-aware wisdom. So next time you feel like beating yourself up, take a step back, read the lesson of your emotions, accept it (and yourself), and then send those feelings out the door.

Namaste.

(Thanks for letting me vent. I feel better already. Please feel free to share any struggles that you have overcome—big or small—that helped you become a stronger, wiser person. …It certainly feels good to spell it out, I must say!)

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