I try to keep a look out for patterns. They always reveal something to me: my mindset, what I’m expending my energy on, what’s at the forefront of my mind.
There are times where themes seem almost too-conveniently expressed in my life; every conversation will bring it up somehow, I’ll come across quotes left and right to describe it, my teachers will structure classes around it. There’s probably a psychological phenomenon to describe this, but it also feels magical somehow to keep it sacred and untainted by logic. To just feel and the ebb and flow of the Universe and the signs placed in front of me.
I keep pulling this oracle card: Awakening. “Energetic upgrades.” It says, “A new way of being. Integration.”
I’ve felt this awakening throughout the past few months, ever since school started again. I’ve felt it in my personal relationships, where my eyes are being opened to who and what I want to keep close. I’ve felt it in my academic and work life, where I’ve been chasing opportunities and learning how to align with purpose. And I’ve felt it in the world as we open ourselves up to different perspectives and step into a time of action towards justice.
I see the signs. Whatever awakening is happening is real and tangible. I see change on the horizon, and I believe in the good things coming. But sometimes, it’s incredibly difficult for me to trust that I will know what I need to know when I need to know it . In simpler terms, it’s difficult for me to stay present and trust that everything is being unfolded to me in a divine timeline, with messages arriving exactly when I need them.
I wasn’t raised religiously, or I might view all of this through the lens of “God’s plan” or messages from Himself. I respect the reality of God in the lives of those who follow Him, but no major religion has ever entirely resonated with me. I could view this as a personal shortcoming, a sign that I’m too logical or heady. And in viewing this impatience I see the beauty in trusting that someone else is crafting a life-plan for us, that someone else is looking out for us. Without a name or face to put to this trust, it can be easy to lose connection to.
And yet, with my whole heart, I see and have respect for the-Universe-with-a-capital-u. Because I faced far too many coincidences in my life to not find comfort in them, to not see the signs and find a cozy warmness in their presence. Call it projection or call it spirituality, it’s guided me towards a path in life I’m deeply grateful for.
Perhaps my love for finding these patterns stems from how they’ve allowed me to become entirely me. These signs feel like a recognition in some ways, as though someone is saying, “Hey, I see you. Keep going. Keep being. You’re on your path.” See, I know what it’s like to feel like you’re “too much.”
I still know. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re too loud, too over-the-top, too in-your-face. I know what it’s like to feel like you need to fold back into yourself, hide all the things inside you that feel like they’re bubbling over and flooding your world. I still know.
But I have also found that those things, the things you desperately wish you could swallow and never have to chew on again, are the things that will help others. You don’t even need to have some powerful wisdom or lesson to share about what it is you’re hiding. Others will find healing just in knowing that they are not alone in what they’re experiencing.
Two years ago, I couldn’t think of anything to write. I felt stuck. I asked the Universe what I needed to create, what would be of service. I asked for a sign.
I still can’t explain it, but I walked into one of my lecture halls one day and saw, hung on the wall, a tiny sticky note. In handwriting I didn’t recognize, it said: “Write about your heartbreak, it might help someone.”
A sign. A reminder. A message that while I might feel like I’m too much, the discomfort I’m feeling is actually part of the process of peeling away the layers. It’s the sensation of stepping into full authenticity and truth, something that is a foreign sensation to many of us. The majority of life asks of us to steps into roles and put on masks and keep our stories quiet. Sometimes out of necessity (not every moment is the best moment to share your innermost, deepest stories), but oftentimes it’s out of fear: of judgement, of shame, of being too much.
I used to kinda think that brilliant people were just born brilliant, that there was something about the water they drank growing up or the fibers in their DNA that made them brave and powerful. I almost thought it was shameful to admit that I look out into the Universe to find signs that reassure me, that instead I should have a brave tale of personal conviction and inner truth.
But in reality, I think life is a long exercise in reflection. We look out into the world to come back home to ourselves, to be reminded of what was always in there, all along. We crave hearing the stories of other people to find bits of ourselves in their words, to see our own personal reality in a different light. We step onto our mats to view them as mirrors, to witness and observe the patterns that show up both on and off the mat. When we see the signs, when we practice a deep form of listening that transcends language and steps into the more ephemeral, we are really asking something greater than ourselves to guide us back into what was in us all along.
Sometimes reflection like this is soft and sweet, like messages from the Universe. But ultimately reflection is a form of healing, and one that doesn’t always feel so gentle. Healing can be hard work. It takes vulnerability, courage, tenacity, and patience. The word “healing” sounds so soft and sweet, but at times, it can feel like anything but.
One of the most challenging parts of my healing journey was learning how to honor both the light and the dark.
Of course it’s important to fill ourselves up with love, to bathe in positive affirmations and honor the things we love about ourselves. We practice this each time we close our practice with Namaste: honoring the love and light within us.
But healing also calls upon us to look at the darker parts of ourselves, the parts we’ve tucked and hidden away over time. It requires us to identify our self-limiting beliefs, to acknowledge when we are the cause of our own suffering, to go against our ego and ask for help. The first step to changing anything is to first identify what we’d like to change, and that means seeing the dark for what it is and not just hoping we can hide from it forever.
To practice yoga is to practice unification. “Yoga” is to “yoke,” to bring together. We unite the light and the dark through our practice, we see and honor all parts of ourselves. We go into the dark to see it, witness it, but we choose to no longer linger there. We step back into the light again and again until the process doesn’t feel so heavy anymore. Until we can move between both ends of the spectrum without judgement or shame.
The yoga prepares us for all of it. It equips us with all the tools we need for this healing: the breath, the gratitude, the effort, and the surrender. The yoga is so transformative because it mirrors life and all its forms, each practice has its moments of challenge and it’s moments of sweet stillness. It is oppositional by nature, just as we are. Just as we must heal.