- The fulfillment by oneself of the possibilities of one’s character or personality.
- The act of achieving the full development of your abilities and talents.
To completely and utterly become all that you can possibly be – what a concept! I vividly recall the moment in my life when I was first exposed to this idea. I was a little girl in grade school and in class one day we learned about the pyramid to self realization or actualization. It was likely Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, or something similar, that we were studying in our text books. I looked at the pyramid staring back at me, telling me that after my physical and emotional needs were satisfied, then I might have esteem. Then, and only then, after accomplishing a full esteem, I might be able to venture into the world of self realization. I remember feeling a complete panic. What if I never reached self realization in my life time?
This memory was hidden deep in my subconscious until today. I was laying on my back, drenched in sweat, consumed by heat, listening to hot Bikram yoga rock star teacher Barbara. She was talking about the path to self realization. The pyramid flashed into my mind as if it had never left. I felt like there were life times between the moment when that little girl stared with panic at a pyramid in a text book, and this moment now when that pyramid once again entered my mind.
I have dabbled in all types of yoga for many years. I truly feel that my practice didn’t really start until last September when I walked into my first Bikram class. This yoga is truly different than any other yoga that I have been exposed to. It is the most challenging and most rewarding yoga I have ever done. The benefits are many, and to feel them you must do the work. Right from the start I found this yoga hard. I quickly fell in love with it, and perhaps even became addicted to it. Every single class was as hard or harder than the last. I would show up and vow to simply put in a full effort and to not let myself give in until a posture was over. Each time I would sweat it out minute by minute. So many amazing things began to happen. I kept having break through moments. One of the biggest moments was when the first 50 minutes of standing postures flew by. I couldn’t believe it! Usually this pain staking part of the class crawled by for me. I was finding that the more I completely let go of the last posture and stopped thinking about the next one, the more the class was changing for me. The more I completely submersed myself into the moment, the more I listened to every word of instruction from the teacher, the more I let go of every bit of clutter in my mind, the more my practice would evolve. I was learning so much every time, and seeing small but fundamental changes in my postures.
This yoga will be a lifelong journey for me, but I will never stop because I have already felt so many rewards. My ability to truly listen has dramatically increased. My sense of stillness, peace, calm, and complete happiness is bursting to the brim. My mental focus and strength has received a much needed boost. My sense of self and what I think of myself has taken a positive turn. My entire physical being is absolutely replenished every time I do a class. Whatever activity that I brutally put my body through is simply erased in 90 minutes. And, perhaps closest to my heart, my cycling dreams are more of a reality. This week I went to yoga three days in a row. I then completed a challenging ride on a route I have done multiple times before with a group of the most classy racer boys I have ever had the pleasure of riding with. I was astounded at how good I felt the entire ride, at my overall time, and the many PRs that showed up for me when I uploaded the ride data. I wasn’t a scared little girl, I was cycling chick riding with racer boys!
Just like cycling, for me this yoga requires a lot of dedication and hard work. It requires commitment to continuously doing the same thing over and over to see small improvements and accomplishments along the way. There are days when I regress. There days when I feel like I am starting something from the beginning again. But, perseverance pays off. The more I give, the more I get. As I lay on my matt this morning, it struck me that one step at a time I was moving to self realization. Just like cycling and yoga, it will be a life long journey for me. The toolbox I had developed in these challenging activities was actually full of tools to enable me to reach self realization. Every step, every moment, being committed and putting in the work will bring results. And perhaps the most key ingredient – patience. The ability to pull back and truly be in the moment has enabled me to take on every pedal stroke up that climb and every tiny piece of every posture. Every bit of mental focus, physical exertion, determination and belief must come together. True patience and ability to be still in every moment may be one of the most important ingredients to achieving results.
As I look back on that moment of panic when something so exciting as self realization came into my life, I feel like I can see completely clearly now. The whole time I had the ability to pursue this idea and make it my reality. The truth is, so do you. I was much more equipped than I realized. All of the tools required come from within, and the battle is usually 90% mental. Sometimes we already are what we are striving to be. Keep on striving.