It was one of those days. The days you question everything. Who am I? What am I about? Am I a complete failure? Am I living an authentic life? Should I even be a teacher? What the f*ck is going on?
Let me back up and tell you how I got here.
Two and a half months ago I decided to end my partnership and part ways with my fiancé. We were supposed to be married in a few months in a beautiful Wisconsin backyard wedding in front of our closest friends and family. A week-long celebration of love with sunshine and lake time, boats and festivals and parties. I had a beautiful ring on my finger and the dress of my dreams hanging in my closet. But deep down I knew something was wrong.
Despite the fun times we had together our relationship was dysfunctional and the love had left long ago. I got up the courage to leave my old life as I knew it and venture out into the world once again alone.
Some days I feel on top of the world. Other days I want to crawl in a hole and never come out. Some days I tell myself that it wasn’t that bad, that maybe I should have stayed. And other days I know I made the right decision.
On this particular day I felt the heaviness of heartbreak and grief. I’m not normally one to break down and cry, but I somehow found myself wandering into my boss’s office with tears in my eyes.
My boss is one of the most wonderful human beings I have ever met. He is passionate, inspirational, and honest. He is a God-loving man. A good man. He is something truly rare in this world.
He spoke words of compassion toward myself and my ex-fiancé. He told me to “let God be enough for you right now, Carisa. Steep yourself in God. Imagine you’re sitting in a little tea cup and someone pours in God and you just allow yourself to steep in Him.”
What a weird little vision. But it worked. At the end of our conversation he asked “Would it be okay to pray with you.”
“Of course,” I replied, but thrown off a little as I always am when someone wants to pray for me or with me. It’s something that deep down inside still makes me squirm a little.
As his words flowed in prayer I felt a deep calmness settle in. The kind of calmness that only a loving God can provide and can only be delivered by someone open enough to let those words flow.
I left his office keeping the words in my head, “Let God be enough, steep yourself in God”, and as the day wore on I continued through my grief, but with the deep reminder that God (whatever that means to you) is truly enough.
As the evening arrived I prepared myself as best I could for a training I was teaching in. A training of mastery.
But who was I to be teaching about mastery?
Sitting with this group of powerful healers there was no choice but to face myself. The energy present that night was thick, potent, and powerful. The kind of loving group that elicits fierce truth.
I could barely hold myself together. I could barely speak words through the three-hour class as luckily my co-leader, led the entire thing.
I went home feeling both filled up and completely exhausted. I sat on the porch contemplating life – and no, I did not come up with any answers. (Let me know if you have.)
Instead I just asked questions.
Who am I? What am I about? Am I a complete failure? Am I living an authentic life? Should I even be a teacher? What the f*ck is going on?
I very begrudgingly went through my evening routine, saying my nightly prayers, setting my intentions, and doing my gratitude list.
I finally went to bed, finishing my evening with a meditation that instructed us to wrap our day in a white light and to leave whatever happened, in that day. (It's one I recorded and you can find it here!)
I slept like a baby.
The next morning my alarm went off at 5:00 am. On Thursdays I teach a 6am sunrise yoga class. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, got dressed, and went over to my bookshelf.
I had finished the book I was reading and wanted a new one. I picked out a book, scanned the bookshelf one more time just to make sure that was the one I wanted, and finally decided on a different book. “The Three Questions” by Don Miguel Ruiz. (This is a must read).
On the way to the studio I prayed. I prayed the words that were still stuck in my head “God is enough. I steep myself in God.” And as always, I asked God to show me the way, because clearly I don’t know what the f*ck I’m doing.
At the studio I prepared my room, set my music, reviewed my theme centered around connection and then went to the front desk to read and wait for my students. The story in the beginning of The Three Questions knocked me off my feet.
The short version goes like this:
An old man breaks a wheel on his wagon and a young man from a farm comes to help. The young man talks about the future and how he wants to know the answers to the mysteries of life. At the completion of his work, the old man looks in his pocket for some coin to give to the boy, but has nothing. So instead he offers him 3 pearls of wisdom. They are as follows:
In order to know who you are, you must learn who you are not.
In order to know what is real, you must learn what is not real.
In order to know what is love, you must learn what is not love.
Divine inspiration took hold and told me to jump ship from my original theme, and as I began class I read the story directly from the book.
I had no idea what I was about to say next, but I just felt into the power of the story and spoke what was in my heart.
I talked about how life isn’t about finding the answers. It’s rather about asking the questions and letting life move us into the answers, simply by moving us into different experiences. There is no need to go on a grueling expedition for the answers.
All we need to do is have an open mind to experience whatever is in front of us. Not because we need it to answer some truth about ourselves (that part comes later), but simply because we are meant to be there to experience it.
And when that experience does not give us what we want, or ends in heartbreak, or grief, or ego takes over and we say something or do something that we know is not resonate with who we truly are, we can have grace and compassion with ourselves.
Because we know that it is all a process of learning. A process of becoming.
Each time we learn who we are not, what is not real, and what is not love – we in turn learn who we are, what is real, and what is love. This is the great irony of life.
When I finished class I had no idea if what I said had landed with anyone. Truthfully it was what I needed to hear and what I needed to be reminded of.
After class, all the students had left except for one. She came up to me with tears in her eyes. She told me that what I had shared in class had hit her deeply.
She told me through religious and spiritual studies that she had been looking for answers. With her hand over her heart and tears rolling down her cheeks she talked about her realization in class that morning. That all she needed to do was live life and let the God of her own understanding move her into the answers.
She thanked me and said, “You have no idea how much that meant to me this morning.”
Funny how that works. Because I was looking at her thinking the exact same thing. She had no idea how much her sharing her experience meant to me that morning.
You see, I had prayed for God to show me the way, to show me who I was, to show me what to do in a time of deep confusion.
And there she was. Amidst my confusion was this solid rock.
The answer. That came not because I was looking for her or seeking my student’s validation or approval in what I was saying that morning. But because I simply just showed up. I just let life move through me instead of pushing and forcing for a life that I wanted to create or running away from a life I wanted hide from.
I do not believe in coincidences. I do not believe I picked up the book I did that morning by mistake. I do not believe I switched my theme that morning on a whim. And I do not believe that she was there that morning by chance.
I truly believe it was the work of a Divine, Supporting, and Loving Universe. A God of my own understanding was working. I had prayed and asked the questions. And God showed up with the answer.