“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlights reel.” -Steve Furtick
As a singer, a yoga practitioner, and a human being, I constantly have to curb my propensity to compare myself with others. I go through my inner monologue, questioning why another singer is successfully winning competitions and awards while I am still struggling to book regional gigs. The voice returns when I see a seemingly effortless scorpion handstand created by one of my peers when I am still grappling with my balance in the pose. If I let this voice continue its diatribe for too long, its incessant chatter tears me down until I lose all joy in my practices. For too many years, I let this voice best me. Whatever it told me was considered the cardinal truth. I was worthless unless the inner voice gave me a gleam of hope telling me that I was “doing ok.” But, most of the time, the voice was simply breaking me down and running through the constant barrage of my faults. For so many years, my low self-esteem meant that I lacked the strength and courage to even utter one note without judgement, criticism, and frustration. In such a competitive and ruthless profession, all of the fun I had once enjoyed while singing was broken down into a complete hatred and misunderstanding of my voice. It was at this lowest point that I found yoga. Or better yet, yoga found me. My roommate at the time was attending yoga classes while at USC and she desperately needed a ride one night, so I offered her a lift and she offered me a mat. After that first class, I was hooked. My first teacher said something in class that has always stuck with me “why do we call it yoga practice? Because there is no end goal. No final result. It is a practice and a journey.” Finally, I did not need to prove myself. I did not need to compare myself with others. This was just practice, not a performance. There was nothing to strive for, nothing to attain. At last I experienced a relief, albeit a brief one, from the constantly nagging voice in my head. While that voice was waiting for me as soon as I left the studio, just to have 75 minutes of quiet was absolute bliss. It took me 6 years to really dedicate myself to the practice and be more than a once-a-week yogi, but that first class showed me that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I’d frequently cry in class just for the sheer gratitude of having a few moments of peace.
As I continue my study of both the physical and mental practice of yoga, I find that those moments of peace are growing in size and strength while my inner critic is dwindling and losing its fervor. I’d be lying if I said that it never rears its ugly head. My competitive nature may never allow that voice to fade entirely, but I am able to temper it with a healthy dose of perspective, understanding, and belief in my own self-worth as I continue on my own journey and practice this thing we call life.
#letsgetflexyin2015 challenge day 20: upavistha konasana. The scent of jasmine fills the air. The scent of freshly mown grass fills my nostrils. The crisp morning fog makes the air heavy with dew. Moments like these, I bow down to the natural world surrounding me. Life moves through cycles, rejuvenates itself, and changes each moment. We must let ourselves do the same and just be in the moment: letting go of that nagging suspicion that we should be somewhere else or be doing something else. There is nowhere to be but here.