The first time I saw this [Transform Yourself, Inspire Others] motto of the Yogaprasad Teacher Training I’d signed up for, I knew I was in for it. My dear friend who’d invited me to the training did her best to explain the depth of this course, the legitimacy of the teacher and the incredible gift she was now offering, but how could I ever have known the turn my life was taking?
On the first morning of the training during our introductions we were asked to share why we were there. I can recall telling the group and teacher how I’d long since felt this calling to make a lasting and positive difference in the world, but knew that first I had some real work to do on myself. Yes, I was in the right place. Terrified and with nowhere to hide, in exactly the right place. I had been avoiding my Self for some time up to this point and had created quite the mess of my surroundings.
See, I have a compassionate heart, if someone is suffering I will want to fix it. The deeper the pain, the greater my intrigue it would seem. And sometimes I can’t quite distinguish the suffering of another to the feelings which are my own. Of course this has created problems; being taken advantage of, getting stuck in depressive states for far too long, giving all of my energy away, thinking surely if I fixed another they’d return the favour and then take care of me. It never happened like this. Trying to help someone out of pure compassion is one thing, but doing it without boundaries or with some expectation of return is call for severe disappointment. Some people haven’t even heard of the concept of helping themselves before considering offering to another. In our modern era everything seems to come from outside of ourselves and happens so fast. But helping ourselves, the return to loving ourselves, is not like this.
We have to do the real work on our own, but the beauty in this is that once we commit to the work, the helpers and guides appear. On my own path, once I sincerely committed to facing myself without fear, incredible guidance has been with me every step of the way. It can only be described as magic and could come by way of a dream, as a new and empowering friend, a work opportunity which genuinely supports, a perfectly timed message by book or song, experiences that cannot be put into words or maybe, if you are among the most lucky, a real teacher who is always, always there. And I met mine, when I showed up for this course which promised to help me transform myself to better be of inspiration. My teacher, my Guru, Prasad, he was living this example and to be honest, at first it confused the hell out of me. Why was he giving so freely? How did he seem to have this never ending supply of energy and knowledge and patience and kindness for any who crossed his path? What was he getting out of this? What did he want from me? I’m not sure if we’re born untrusting, but I know we become this way and I was skeptical. He seemed to operate totally outside of the paradigm within which I’d been raised. One where helping others fulfills some lack within ourselves, it makes us feel purposeful or like better people, it distracts us from the void within, it gives us something to boast in social circles or post on the internet, or barter with God to say see, we did do good and I think we meant it! Not to totally belittle those who are giving back and not entirely clear on why, of course it’s nice, I just want to share what I realized; That if we aren’t giving to ourselves what we offer to another, it is empty. How can you take away from a source that is already running dry? Who wants that dirty water anyway? And then you’re left running to the well of another and begging for a sip. It creates so much drama unnecessarily.
So I asked my teacher in earnest, where the motivation to give comes from if not from some twisted selfish gain. He explained to me that through sadhana (self practice), you ultimately reach a place where there is so much welling up inside of your own heart, that the overflow spills out into the lives of those nearest you. It’s a natural outpouring of the divinity within. We all have this seed of divinity within our hearts, but we don’t all tend to it. Imagine what it would feel like to have a heart near bursting at the seams, so much peace and love to contain that it needs to find outlet. And what better outlet than those we love who are lacking in themselves. The love can now pour upon them from a strong and steady spout, one they can rely on and trust in it’s source. When he told me this, it sounded nice and shook me a bit as it was so far off from how I’d been operating and achieving such a state seemed totally far out. I had always craved so badly to be needed, to be given some value by another, to not have to confront any of the darkness within on way to the light. But I did trust him and I saw him in action- someone who had transformed and fast became my greatest inspiration. So I did as I was taught, I continued to work on myself consistently and sincerely. I’ve been pulled off course many times in many ways, tempted to fill my well with cup of another, but it never lasts and I always come back to my sadhana and my determination to be my own best friend, my own greatest caregiver.
It’s been over two years since I joined that course and met my Guru and embarked on the real journey, and I have changed a lot. I still attract people in desperate need, people in who I see such potential and want nothing more than to pull it forth. At times I am still tempted to sacrifice my health in order to show them their worth. But these days I am not so easily pulled apart and given out to the needy in exchange for a little misguided self satisfaction before sleep. I am not so empty that the passing thanks of another is worth more than my own truth. I still want to give and I am relearning to do just that. It does require some apparently ‘selfish’ action on my part in protecting my own sensitive nature. But I swear I am stronger now, growing more so by the day, and if you ever need something please don’t hesitate to ask.