One of the the ways I’ve been reminding myself to be more present is by asking myself how am I showing up in this moment? I ask myself this question when I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, as I relate to loved ones, or when I’m presenting or teaching to adults or children.
This is a hard question to answer honestly because often I find myself having all types of conflicting impulses or thoughts that sometimes confuse me. Worse still are the times I see clearly that I’m showing up in a hurtful or manipulative way. It’s humbling to be reminded that I still have lots of conditioning and hurt that needs my tending.
Often, I ask myself this question because of my insecurities and aversion to getting any attention at all. Life seems to be constantly telling me, however, that I have to show up not just for myself but for others. I am constantly being asked to do things that are outside my comfort zone and placed in situations that are beyond me.
I try to step up. I have done things I never thought I would do like quit my job to teach and present to hundreds of people at time, lead yoga and meditation retreats to adults and children all over the country, or worse be on camera teaching yoga and meditation. But energetically I drag my feet, I get annoyed and grumpy. Just ask my wife and kids or those that work closely to me.
This pattern became clear to me when Omega Institute released a video of me teaching yoga and mindfulness to high school kids in Queens, incidentally, not far from where I grew up. I was feeling myself coming up with all types of excuses for not watching the video, sharing it on social media, or even telling friends and relatives about it. I was telling myself I was being humble, low-key, just doing my work—but that wasn’t it.
I was scared. I was scared of being found out as an impostor. My mind was telling me I was just lucky, that all the successes I’ve had are just perchance and only because people don’t really know me. Could you imagine? Instead of being proud and feeling good about being able to show off some of the good work I do, I was beating myself up.
Luckily around this time I got to hear Rhonda Magee talk at the Yoga Service Council Conference and on a graduate call with Mindful Schools about mindfulness, identity-based suffering, and social justice. I got the chance to ask her about the practical things we as a community could do to make mindfulness more inclusive and accessible for people of color and other underrepresented groups. And she gave a wonderful answer wherein she spoke about power and how that influences who has access and who gets to imagine themselves being in a position to make a difference.
This made me think of all the ways I see the world and how my social imagination was limited because of all the messaging I learned as a child and how that still impacts me in adult life. It made me think of all the children who have ever immigrated to this country, those who don’t speak English, who are of color and can’t, at this moment, understand their full potential.
So this is me showing up because I need healing and that only happens in community.
If I show up, others will also have the courage to do so. I’m challenging myself to show up fully with a loving and kind heart.
In what ways has your imagination been limited by the beliefs you have of yourself?
How do you show up when challenging situations arise in your life?
In what small and grand ways can you show up fully to support your community?