This weekend at graduation from my Kundalini Teacher Training, I got a comment from my friend’s boyfriend that made me feel all kinds of things.
I saw him on the street after the graduation ceremony ended, at which time, I had already taken my white turban off and let my hair down which was flowing in the afternoon wind. Correction…my turban had fallen off during a hug, and I never put it back on.
(Side note: In the Kundalini tradition, yogis wear head coverings, often turbans, but really anything that covers the crown of your head, for holding your energy in and creating a sense of focus during meditation as well as other things you can read here. I do it because it I feel like I have more focus during yoga when I do, and because it makes me feel like I’m being reverent to the practice. Also wearing white and the turban is something I don’t do in any other part of my life, so putting it on feels like a sacred practice. Just so you know…if you decide to take Kundalini classes from me you aren’t required to wear white or turbans unless you want to. :) )
This was significant because the entire time I was in this training, all seven months, I don’t think I ever showed anyone my hair. I had it wrapped from day one until the last day. And what he said was such a reflection of some feelings I had had throughout the entire training.
When I ran into him he said, “Oh wow! You look GREAT!! I mean, [my girlfriend] told me you were a really beautiful girl but I had only ever seen you in the white get-up.”
In this moment, a whole slew of emotions rushed to the surface. Emotions that I myself grappled with the entire time during training.
Which was…am I still beautiful without all the “things” that make me “beautiful.”
All the hair and the makeup and the accessories and the successful business and my rock n roll days, traveling, motorcycle riding, Wildheart history and the “outfits” and nice clothes. Am I still pretty, am I still worthy, do people still want to be my friend if I’m just…me. Do people want to get to know me if I have nothing other than my quiet presence, heart, and spirit to show them?
This whole process of teacher training has been an interesting one. I decided, going in, that I was going to go in bare, blank, and as “slate-wiped-clean” as possible. I showed up on the first day at 4:45 am, in all whites, a turban, and no make-up. No jewelry. No accessories. No “outfit.”
This experiment started a bit before the training started. I was wearing less or no make-up already and questioning when I felt the need to put it on (when I thought I looked sad or tired or wanted to impress people or be thought of as cool or beautiful or when I felt insecure). And continued throughout the training, where I let my leg and armpit hair grow out, and almost never wore make-up, and where I tried (and succeeded) in doing a 40 day cleanse/diet where you eat only green foods.
This stuff might all sound weird. Or hippy. Or woo woo. But to me, it was all an experiment about what it feels like to get to ground zero. To know what it feels like to do something I’ve never tried before. What my body feels like with the hair on it that was intended to be there by grand design? What does it feel like to not lead with all the “cool” and “great” things I’ve accomplished. What does it feel like when I eat foods that have not been processed in any way shape or form, or to not eat any animal products at all. To have no caffeine or alcohol (not a huge drinker so this wasn’t an issue). And what does it feel like when someone sees my hairy leg or armpit or goes out to dinner with me and I order broccoli. How am I loving myself in these moments?
All of this experimenting called me forth to learn a few very important things.
To learn to love and value myself no matter what, put my ego aside and stand behind my decisions no matter how weird or strange they seemed to someone else.
I’m not surprised that this has been such a theme for me. I feel like the last few years have really been bringing me the lesson to love and honor myself no matter what. And I should have known this seven-month journey would be peppered with these lessons when on the first day of class I was waiting in line for the bathroom, and one girl pushed right passed me to the gorgeous 20 something in front of me and said to her, “wow you are really beautiful. I’m just such a lover of beauty and I had to say something.” And then she looked at me and looked away.
In times like this, whether they are real or imagined, we must learn to see our own beauty and self-worth that has nothing to do with the way we look. The beauty that lives in our spirits, our souls, our hearts, and our “cosmic twinkle” (as my dad, the pediatrician used to call it).
That beauty that can’t be measured by a good outfit or a shining smile with perfect, white teeth. The beauty that where you know, deep down, that you are lovable, worthy and wonderful whether or not you have a flat stomach, and a wrinkle free face, or whether or not someone just broke up with you.
I think Yogi Bhajan said it best: “You do not understand your features. Your features are not your beautiful nose, your beautiful cheeks, beautiful lips, and so on. These are not your features. Your features are your beautiful behavior, your beautiful character, your beautiful health, your beautiful spirit, your beautiful advice, your beautiful wisdom, your beautiful inspiration.”
I can honestly say that most of the time, I did not FEEL beautiful during the training. I did not FEEL attractive. And when that happened, I had to dig deep down and feel my own self-worth despite those feelings. To truly see and love myself no matter what I looked like. Or how sad or tired I looked or how introverted I felt. And in doing that, I felt proud. I felt proud knowing that I wasn’t leaning on my old “go-to” to feel popular, and likable. I felt proud knowing that some people could still see my spark. I felt proud that I never wavered from my commitment to myself even when my friends made comments about my turban or couldn’t really look me in the eye when I was wearing it.
In life we are often faced with scenarios that make us feel less-than. Where we compare ourselves to others. Or where we feel invisible or brushed aside. Where we feel unseen or unvalued. And it’s in those times, more than any other, that we must find our own light and our own beauty.
Because at the end of the day, no one else will ever be able to make you truly feel something that you don’t already believe to be true. (Tweet This)
So this is the call to see where in your own life you are feeling small, invisible, and not wonderfully perfect and beautiful, and examine it. Maybe you want to try an experiment of your own to find that love inside yourself. Maybe you want to wear less make-up too. Maybe you want to try to strip it all back in your own life too.
But mostly, I want to hear from you. Have you ever felt like this? Less beautiful than other people? Less worthy? Invisible? If so, tell me in the comments below. I’d love to know:
When have you ever felt this way?
What did you do to move through it?
I would also like to make a request. If you know someone who would appreciate this message of self-love, acceptance, and worthiness, please forward this article along. I truly believe that the world will be a better place if we all start loving ourselves a little bit more. Help spread the love by clicking the “share” button at the top/side of the article.
P.s. I’m doing something NEW!! Soon I will be opening an Online Kundalini Studio with live, streaming, yoga classes. It’s gonna be rad. Promise. Get on this list to make sure you’re in the loop when that goes live.