Guest blog by Yogasteya member Joy Love Bernstein
I have 3 Love Lessons that I am constantly trying to prefect. As new and challenging opportunities arise throughout my life, I find myself coming back to these three lessons, and I am reminded of my goals and aspirations in this life.
Here are my three love lessons, and how they continue to be tested and transformed as I face new challenges in my adult life.
Love Lesson #1: Choosing People
In the past five years, I have deeply experienced relationships. Not only relationships with life partners, but also with family, friends, acquaintances, and even random human beings with whom I come into contact.
Regardless of their differences, they have one similarity: they are all people I choose. The operative word being: choose. I make a conscious effort to decide who I allow into my life.
Love Lesson #2: Knowing I Am Enough
My first conscious memory is of being four years old, and feeling like I was not good enough, or thin enough. I remember thinking that my hair was not straight enough, and that my skin was too dark.
One day, I caught my mother checking herself in the mirror, making sure her hair was perfect, her teeth were perfect, and her jewelry, make-up and dress were perfect. I remember her checking to make sure everything was just right. She struggled to make the woman she saw in the mirror good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, etc. But those perceptions were about her, and they had nothing to do with me.
In that single moment, something stirred deep within me. I separated myself from my mother. I had always thought about MYSELF differently. I wasn’t fat at that time, I loved my amazing curly hair, I marvelled at my skin colour, which was different from others, but perfect for me.
That turning point sparked a flame of self-love once I realized my mother had to own her image – she had to either accept it or resist it. At the same time, I realized I could make a different choice when it came to my own image, and I choose to own my image with fierce acceptance. I stopped doubting and instead, I started knowing that I am enough.
Love Lesson #3: Seeing Myself
I am a huge advocate of allowing people to exist just as they are – and I start with myself especially.
Unfortunately, while we work so hard at accepting others, it’s easy to forget to accept ourselves in the process. I know for me, it is a struggle to allow myself to exist just as I am.
It is not uncommon for us to get distracted by people-pleasing or seeking acceptance from others instead of primarily seeking acceptance from ourselves.
A significant reminder came in my own life recently, in the form of a situation at a yoga studio I belonged to. I mistakenly perceived that the owners accepted both my “curvy” style and my authentic self, and I believed that they valued me as a unique person– just as I am. I thought that they supported my mission to bring yoga into the lives of men and women who are over their ideal weight and consequently think yoga is out of their reach.
As my student body of curvy yogis and yoginis grew, I had consistent attendance and a strong following. I thought the owners would be even more thrilled and supportive. But as it turns out, they viewed both my mission and individuality, as just a passing fad. I was the current “it thing” and gimmick to gain attention for their studio.
Three months into my teaching, I started receiving weekly messages of things that were “wrong”. It started with mentions that I wasn’t a “good enough” teacher, which progressed into joking about my classes and then my students. To my shock and disgust, a teacher casually mentioned that I should die.
The studio owners began to question my niche by insinuating that there was no difference between my style of teaching vs. their style. They no longer saw a need for a “curvy” class atmosphere and questioned why my students couldn’t just take her classes. After all, in her mind, she couldn’t see the difference I was making in my community.
It was then I recognized I was forgetting to see myself. I confidently informed the owners that I no longer needed their location nor their support — I’d take my gift elsewhere.
Even before this whole situation escalated, my intuition had already enlightening me, and I recognized that I would not be authentically successful in that studio. However, I had kept pushing myself through that hardships and had been forcing myself to stick it out – continually convincing myself that it was a matter of my being “tough”. I absorbed the hurtful jabs and upsetting remarks, deceiving myself with the belief that it wasn’t personal. It was then I realized I was allowing them to exist and be themselves, but that I had forgotten to see myself in the process.
There are many situations in life that expressly call us higher and to further self-actualize. I remind myself to be grateful for these opportunities that allow me to continue perfecting my Three Love Lessons:
- Choosing my people
- Knowing I am enough just as I am; and
- Seeing myself just as importantly as I see and value others.
Joy Love Bernstein is a Structural Bodyworker turned 200hr Trained Vinyasa Instructor and a Certified Curvy Yoga Instructor resides in San Antonio, Texas. She wrote the eBook 30 days of Self Exploration, and has a YouTube Channel dedicating a weekly practice to her friends and family. If you can’t hear her shrieking away from her rambunctious dogs, you might just hear her laughing with her teenage son (who though he keeps growing taller, she reminds him that she is the parent). To learn more about Joy, visit her website at www.bringyourownmat.com. Be sure to follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter