First, life breaks you.
When I was younger, that’s all I could really say for sure.
It was how I rationalized the shit that would happen. How else could a kid explain loss and heartache? And struggles, questions with no answers, injustices and unfair circumstances?
Every so often, that’s just what life does. Life “happens” to us. A circumstance befalls us. There’s illness, an accident, suffering, strife.
It happens without reason and we have to fight to survive. Shit happens, and we get bruised and beaten. We fight to pick up the pieces of our selves, and in that long and sad process of putting ourselves back together, what we reassemble might be a little more true and honest and loving. We might become stronger and a little more raw and real, and a little less of whatever we thought we once were.
That’s what I was trying to make sense of when I was a kid–that life must want to break the lies we tell ourselves so that our truth could come out.
Life did the breaking so that the soul of love hiding deep beneath our skin could finally take flight.
But in the last two years, I’ve realized just how incomplete that notion was.
The big flaw for me was how miserable it is to think that life “exists” to break us. It would mean that we humans would be left to suffer and hope to put ourselves back together again–and, God willing, we might figure out how to rebuild ourselves in ways more truthful, loving and good than before.
This old idea I had made me feel like us human beings were helpless creatures who could only be “chosen by the Universe” to become more of our true selves.
Over the last two years, my perspectives have evolved.
I believe that life does indeed break us–but that’s just the nature of nature, itself. Life does its breaking because that is how we are first introduced to suffering, pain, hardship and heartbreak.
Life breaks us so we can meet sadness, understand sorrow and honor loss.
But that’s not the only way we can be broken open.
Sorrow, hardship, loss and pain are not the only ways through which we can experience a deeper source of soul that resides within us and is dying to be expressed through our words, pursuits, and deeds in the world.
We can become our own breakers.
We can act break ourselves open so that our truth, strength and love can all pour out.
I’m not talking about seeking out loss or heartbreak or sorrow. I’m not talking about neglecting our bodies, subjecting ourselves to diseases, or being negligent or self-loathing or anything like that.
I’m talking about breaking the shells of ourselves that we construct to keep our souls cozy, tidy and protected: how we avoid tough but meaningful conversations that might set us free; saying we’ll start to eat healthier tomorrow, because today is a loss; secretly dreaming of glorious days and nights in spite of the chance we have to start creating them for ourselves, right now.
By breaking, I mean how you might make and take opportunities of great challenge because, win or lose, you feel in your heart that journey will be worth it.
I mean meeting chance, circumstance and the ticking hours on the clock with touches of defiance and soul.
I mean living our lives every day in ways that are truth-driven and love-buoyed and hellbent on overcoming–all that we willingly choose to step into situations, circumstances, opportunities, adventures, dreams, goals, desires, needs and physical spaces that scare us or threaten us or make us want to run and hide.
Because on the edges of those fears, worries and unknowns, our truth is bound to reside.
We find it there, in activities and passions and pastimes that give us joy and the feeling of flow or connection to the eternal.
We find this feeling of connection in moments of service and in moments of love. We feel connected when we stand before a group and share something that terrifies us, because that means it’s worth listening to. We feel connection when we hold hands with a loved one and laugh with the best of friends.
We feel connection when we break ourselves open, again and again, and tap the source of eternal life–the spanda, the pulse, the spark, the passion, the essence of life–that resides within us.
After three years of yoga and now a Certified Yoga Teacher, I finally understand why I keep coming back to the mat.
It’s because yoga connects me to my Self, my truth and ultimately to my love.
Yoga breaks me open.
Being my own “breaker” is what helps me as a writer understand why I’ve long fought to create art and share words that matter with others. It’s because artistry is one practice that makes me (and, maybe you too) dig deep and access a place that’s covered in doubts, fears, worries and angst.
Beneath that rubbish is truth.
When I write, I know I’m digging to get there.
Life will always be there to break us. We have to do what we can to recover and put ourselves back together when we can.
But in the meantime, we can become warriors of the truth and the love that we know is nested deep down in our souls.
We can break down the stone walls that we erect around our hearts to keep them safe from harm but hidden from love just the same.
We can break down the routines and habits that automate the experience of life, relationships, work and play–the “same old” days and nights that we live on instinct and not because they provide us with depths of joy and allow us the gift to experience life through all our senses.
We can do things that scare us to death and choose them anyway, because from those moments of “breaking” –when our souls ignite– it means our truth is shining forth and that our can love pour out.
How we access this wealth of truth, love, purpose, passion and connection to a Higher Source is not magic.
We need to do whatever we can every day to break ourselves open.
We need to take up practices that challenge us to see more of ourselves in the mirror. We need to put in the effort to live what we believe every day and work hard to embody the shraddha or the ideals, values, axioms and faith that finds its home in our core.
It’s there, that soul-body, but it’s hiding underneath layers of bone and blood and ego.
Beneath it all is the universal essence of life that binds us all. Call it truth, call it love, call it something else entirely.
What I knew when I was younger was that life would challenge us and break us so that we could feel that it is down there, buried within us.
What I now understand is that we don’t need to wait for life’s hardships and struggles to unearth the Source of ourselves.
We need to start digging–to dig, every day.
We need to break the walls we erect and the shells of comfort we hide behind.
We can become our own breakers, and in the process, bare our souls to the world so that the very lives we live shout proudly, “Yes.”