Since the time I was a child, I can remember praying at night and saying, “God, please give me a voice, please give me the opportunity to make a positive difference.” I would pray this relentlessly. Then, one day five years ago, I took a Yoga class. It was like I came alive again, my inner child reawakened and I felt full of life. Not long afterward, I took my first job in an Advertising Agency in Corporate America, at the age of 23. It seemed the natural path, my dad had owned his own advertising agency for over 30 years in Cleveland, OH. However, I found myself at work, feeling unfulfilled, and spending a great deal of my time surfing the web and reading about Yoga, my true passion.
Then, September 11th happened, and I began to realize I was spending my time and energy in a career I was not passionate about. And, that my life was precious and too short to be spent that way…
So, in February of 2002, I decided to follow my heart, regardless of the price, and quit my job to teach Yoga. After moving back in with my parents for a while to lessen the blow from the loss of my corporate income, I eventually relocated to downtown Dallas (without their financial support) where I moved into a pretty crappy, old apartment. I worked at a restaurant, initially, to give myself “enough” income so I could afford to live and teach Yoga. It was a life of struggle, living in efficiency apartments and crying many tears over the pain of not really being able to afford anything, except the bare necessities, and barely even that.
At one point, when a check had bounced in my bank account, I sat with the few dollars I had in my hand at my desk, and crumpled them up, threw them and said, “I hate this stuff, I hate you, God, why do you have to make the world like this, this materialistic place where all that matters is money, why does it have to be like this.”
Even though the struggle, I managed to open up my own studio, under the guidance of a “friend.” This person told me he’d pay the first few months rent, though he never did. For a year, I struggled to keep it alive. But, after a year and without any capital left, I hit rock bottom this past September.
Overcome with financial struggle, I was talking to my friend on the phone and told her, “I’m going to slit my wrists.” Not knowing what to do, she called the cops and at about 1 am in the morning, the police knocked on my door. Though I had absolutely no intention of hurting myself, and of course realize the detrimental effect of saying these words carelessly, it was a cry for help. It felt like I was going down and no one was there to save me, not even my parents. Actually, that was the first time in my life I had called my parents, and they did not return my phone call the same day. It felt like I had no one.
When the cops arrived, I began to cry. I told them I was going through a hard time, letting go of a relationship, my business was suffering, and I was financially devastated. They told me I must call a family member or friend to stay with that night. So, when I finally got a hold of my brother, the police drove me to his house about 15 minutes away from downtown. It wasn’t easy showing up at my brother and his fiance’s house at 1:30 in the morning with the police. In fact, it was one of the most humbling moments in my life, where I felt completely revealed and naked. Like I could hide nothing.
But, from that point forward, I let go of the wheel. I decided to stop steering and to truly let God lead my life. I decided to let go of my wants and needs and thinking I know what is best for me, and chose to let the Divine Force of Life move me in the direction of my highest good. The interesting part is I thought I’d been doing this all along, but realize now, I hadn’t. I’d been trying to run the show my way.
In Yoga, this letting go of control is called Isvara pranidhana, or Surrender to God’s will. It can be a difficult process to get to this place…we can fight it and struggle with it for some people that may mean months and years, for others maybe even a lifetime. But ultimately, at some point in our journey, all that remains for us is to surrender our Ego and let go of our own interests to be lead by our Highest Good.
“After one has exhausted one’s own resources and still not succeeded, one turns to the Lord for help for He is the source of all power. The student prays: ‘I do not know what is good for me. They will be done.’ Others pray to have their own desires gratified or accomplished.” –Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar
As long as we are consumed by our own “needs” we can not see there is something Greater intended for us. We have our pride so wrapped up in itself, we will often take ourselves to a place of desolation before we will let go of the steering wheel. Most of the time, we just keep thinking things are going to get better, we can turn the car around, and we keep hoping this is so. But, at some point, Authority/God steps in and says, “If you want to get his life turned around, you’re gonna have to let me drive.” When the cops came to my house, I could feel it was really God working through them.
I share this with you today, because of the radical transformation I’ve experienced in the few short months since I let go and let God. Letting go of having a studio was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made. My entire identity/ego was wrapped up in being a Studio Owner and a business owner in Dallas, TX.
Once I allowed myself to surrender my identity, my ego, my life began to open up in ways I’d only dreamed was possible. In two weeks, I’m going to be traveling up to Ohio for the New Year to see my grandmother, sister, nieces, and nephews, who I haven’t seen in over 2.5 years, as well as, dear friends. When I was doing things my way, I never felt like I could afford the trip up there. Now, I have the resources and the time, thanks to God.
I’m getting to realize my dream of doing what I love and earning a living at it. Maybe one day I’ll have a studio again, but for now, I’m listening to the voice within me and allowing myself to be guided by that, rather than listening to other people tell me I need to do certain things (like own a studio) in order to be successful.
And, most of all, I’m getting a second chance, an opportunity to start over, wiser and stronger than before, and share my love of Yoga to even more people with an abundance of opportunities before me. Above all, I feel grateful. Grateful for the fresh start, grateful to be able to make a difference more and more all the time, and grateful to have struggled, only to awaken to a new appreciation and joy for living that’s sweeter and deeper than ever before. This year really will be a Happy New Year.
Click here to listen to a song about letting go and letting God: