It’s almost New Year’s. That means I’m reflecting a lot on the past year and trying my best to do so with as much compassion and self-acceptance as possible. You know what I’m realizing? That this is the year I became a woman. That may sound really cliché, so please let me explain.
This year I broke through some very old patterns—patterns I picked up in childhood, or maybe even before that in another life. One of those patterns was hiding. Although it may sound strange, hiding was always how I defended myself from the world. No, I didn’t disappear under the covers, but energetically I did everything possible to be invisible. Like most people, I didn’t want to be judged or disliked, but it was more than that; I didn’t want to be seen. Actually, I did want to be seen, but being seen felt scary, so I turned the flame of my heart down to an imperceptible flicker and hoped that no one would notice it.
By the time I was 30, I couldn’t hide anymore; it was just too painful. But since I didn’t know how to be uninhibited in my own company, I went into seclusion. While living in the little cabin that is still my home, I explored my creative yearnings for the very first time since childhood. It was frightening to call that wild energy back, but when I did everything changed.
My album came out last January and in March I performed live for the first time. Sitting in the fire before 40 yogis and yoginis, I honestly thought I might die from self-consciousness and fear. But once I dropped inside that sacred place in the center of my being, something happened: All of my stories and neuroses disappeared and there was nothing left but music. It was amazing. My hard shell of self-protection vanished and I became as vast as the sky.
Revealing my vulnerable heart in front of complete strangers was almost too much for my system to handle, however, and later that night I got really ill—so ill that the owner of the yoga center in Atlanta had to drive me back to my hotel in the middle of dinner. Somehow I made it into the huge, king-size bed in the dark with all of my clothes on and tried to fall asleep, but it didn’t work; I ended up vomiting all over the clean, white comforter. Just when it felt like nothing more could possibly come out, I found myself gripped by another violent wave. Once the entire bed was drenched, I ran to the bathroom. As I sat on the floor with my head by the toilet, it seemed clear that this wasn’t just a case of food poisoning or the flu; this was a purification. Something ancient in my gut was being expelled and I had no choice but to let it move through.
When I got home, I called a friend who is a gifted healer. He scanned my energy and said, “You broke through some deep patterns in your maternal lineage—that’s what the vomiting was about.” I thought about my mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, and how all of them found different ways to smother their light. They passed those patterns on to me, and I took them on unknowingly in the form of subtle behaviors and beliefs.
Like precious heirlooms, we all inherit pain from our family, and perhaps from other lifetimes, too. These deep-rooted samskaras, as they’re called in Sanskrit, can feel impossible to break through, but that doesn’t mean we’re stuck with them forever. I really believe that life wants us to be free because life loves the truth. Our patterns are like masks we hide behind, but it’s inevitable that those masks will fall away because we’re all destined to discover our original face.
Over the past year I’ve started to see my patterns more clearly, and the light of awareness has helped them shift, however slowly. Now when I get caught up in my habitual tendencies and feel like hiding from the world, I understand that it’s the child inside who feels scared. That child gets lost in her emotions and can’t see beyond them. She wants someone to make things better, and blames the world for how she feels. But the woman in me knows another way, and this year she taught me that becoming a woman is a journey without end. After all, what is a woman but the feminine mystery in form? What is a woman but the shining expression of shakti?
To me, a woman is someone who owns her stuff—dark and light—and knows how to hold it all with tenderness. She doesn’t turn away from fear, but embraces it. Though painful at times, her sensitivity is the most beautiful quality in existence. Sometimes she feels strong, and sometimes she doesn’t; either way, it’s okay. She yearns for truth even when it slices her heart, and understands that life only wants to open her to more of her true self. When she feels ugly, ignored, and small, she knows that there is radiance underneath, powered by an intelligence that is far beyond the mind.
Sure, she has stories about herself that may be false, but she works to witness them. Unlike the girl who gets lost in a narrative, she goes inside the story then moves beyond it. She gets that this world is an illusion held together by the beautiful yarn of spirit, but she doesn’t deny the beauty that is here. Giving love is her nature; receiving love is her edge. Though on the surface she may appear soft, in her core she is stronger than a diamond. Of course she forgets this, but there are plenty of opportunities to remember. She is brave enough to meet pain and pleasure fully, without closing down. It’s not always easy, but who said it would be?
Once in awhile she feels desperate for something that has no name. The feeling can be hard, but when she really surrenders, a door opens to the infinite. She knows she doesn’t need a man to be happy (if she’s straight!), yet she still longs for him because the fire burns her awake. At times she feels full from the inside and that fullness spills out of her in the form of light. She wants to give that light to someone resonant, for she knows there is nothing more sacred. When love is shared in deep communion, it blesses the whole wide-open world.
A woman’s heart is full of rain clouds, always shedding tears for the suffering it sees. She carries a weapon called compassion, though sometimes she forgets to wield it on herself. The wilderness lives inside her body, and so does a ferocious lover who is hungry to be claimed—maybe by a man, maybe by the wind and stars. She’s not afraid of her yearning; rather, she dives into it. Like the moon, sometimes her light circulates in secret; other times it radiates everywhere.
Now and then she messes up, but mistakes are a perfect part of the path; she knows that what matters most is recognizing them and being humble enough to say sorry. When life knocks her down, she feels the earth. Maybe she weeps, but then she plants her anger in the soil and rises up reborn. She values kindness and tries her best to forgive. Usually, it doesn’t happen all at once, but that doesn’t matter. She stopped trying to “fix” her ego long ago; now she lets life fix her in its own, invisible way. Now she allows her heart to ripen effortlessly, without force.
This is the path I am walking, sweet blog reader—it’s so new, yet so familiar at once. Even though I still feel like a scared little child, I know there’s so much more. Who can say how transformation happens, how patterns shift, how love looks out through our eyes? Who can say how wholeness is born out of brokenness? These are things I am contemplating on the brink of 2012.
Yes, 2012—my new lover who helps me to begin again—I open to you, with all of your mystery yet to be revealed. I want to trust you. I want to blossom in you. I want to love in you. Now, in this moment, in this life— this precious, fleeting life—I want to know the light of my being and rest at ease in That. I want to keep untying the knots that make me feel separate and small. I’m ready for you. Please come and ravish me ever-more deeply into my true nature.