My illusion with the American Dream
A few years back, I left everything behind – my family and 20 years of successful, professional career in consumer insight – and went to India. I lived in an ashram, in a remote rural area in south of India called Tamil Nadu, for about six months. There, I immersed myself in the yogic lifestyle and went through 1750 hours of training in Isha Yoga. I have been teaching and practicing this kind of yoga since then. Along the way, I also became a wellness coach.
What started this journey? Even though I was trying hard to be the best I can be, I was depressed and lacked motivation to simply live. I felt like my tires were spinning so fast, but not going anywhere.
I am always driven to become a better version of myself. But at that time in my life, I was going about it by working very hard, mainly for the purpose of succeeding and obtaining a competitive edge, financial security, and wealth. That’s the American Dream that I was pursuing. I ended up with a great salary and title at one of the best companies in the world, new car, nice house, husband, new iPhone, etc. But I was still unfulfilled, and worse, like I said, I was depressed. At the end of each workday, I would sit in front of the TV like a vegetable, consistently munching or crunching on something. I needed to forget for a few hours who I was and what was going on. I could not withstand anyone conversing with me, and I would shut them up. In addition, I woke up one day and was horrified by how much older I looked! So, I stopped focusing on meeting society’s or my family’s needs.
I realized I missed attending to what is most important, and that is my soul!
How I healed my soul
My healing started when I decided to attend to my own needs. This is when I decided to take a break, go to India, and study Isha Yoga. What drew me to Isha Yoga is that it is one of the authentic, classical yoga that has been transmitted orally from generation to generation by enlightened beings and realized yogis of the East. It imparts all the physical, emotional and mental benefits of yoga, expected and proven today by several scientific studies. But its original intention is more of a spiritual path, promising to be a ladder to the divine. And I needed to experience that.
At that time, little did I know what this entailed. The process started peeling my karma like an onion. Like any process of self-transformation, this means one would have to face their demons!
These demons or what Carl Jung called “shadows” will manifest as stress, anxiety or depression, a struggle to achieve better results at work or at home, obsessive behaviors or thoughts, repetitive patterns in behaviors or relationships, lack of motivation, disease, etc.
On this journey of overcoming my shadows, I drew a healing roadmap that I believe anyone can benefit from.
Roadmap for healing your shadows
1- Healing the source of your struggles
In order for one to heal and live life to their fullest potential, they have to become aware of and deal with the source of their struggles, and not the symptoms.
In my case, I had several symptoms, but the one I struggled with the most was maladaptive daydreaming. Probably not medically correct, but I describe this as “OCD” (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) because I ruminated on the same story over and over and over. It felt like a drug addiction. I could not stop, and sometimes I spent hours on it.
With a lot of meditation, introspection, and working with wellness coaches, I discovered that the main problem revolved around not being assertive, expressing myself, and communicating my needs. I struggled with this “OCD” for years, but in a few months of intense intent and coaching, my addiction was gone! I shifted my energy and learned to shed my past stories and perceptions that no longer serve me. I learned to piece together parts of my soul that were lost. I learned to forgive myself and others. This is where I created a new map for myself and my future self.
2- Experiencing oneself as a spiritual being having a human experience
To have a better perspective on life, for life to have more meaning and purpose, one should experience themself as a spiritual being.
- This is when there is no more feelings of unsafety, isolation, or separation.
- This is when the world is no longer adversarial, but inclusive.
- This is when you become aware and bewildered how much intelligence there is in a blade of grass or ant, and how much you don’t know.
- This is when you realize that there is no difference between you and the chair or carpet/tile you are now sitting on.
- This is when you discover infinity, and everything falls into place.
The practices of Isha yoga promote the experience of being made of energy – not being the body and not being the mind.
3- Overcoming fear of death
- This is about facing fear of death instead of ignoring it as if it will never happen.
- This is about increasing awareness and living in the moment.
- This is where you learn to say all of the “I love you” and “I forgive you.”
- This is where you learn non-attachment.
- This is where you learn that death is just another dimension.
- This is where you prepare to die peacefully and consciously, and in the process, discover peace, joy, and selflessness.
These 3 goals can be inter-dependent: without attending to your struggles, it may be challenging to pursue spirituality; and without experiencing the divine, you may not overcome fear of death. However, each one can be healing on its own.
I used this roadmap for my own healing, using yoga, meditation, and coaching for my instruments. Yoga and meditation are my grounding practices for more energy, balance, and clarity and for connecting with something bigger than myself. But I discovered that coaching can be a great tool for personal growth. This is when I became a wellness coach, and I still meet with my coaching colleagues regularly to work on and improve myself. Today, I am a better version of myself than I was yesterday. I feel better emotionally, I am building new and healthier relationships, and I am pursuing new endeavors I never thought possible in the past. The journey is not over yet, but most importantly, I am excited about it!
My wish for you is that you become aware of how important it is to attend to your soul and heal your shadows.