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All I Seek Is Within


One of the things that keeps me coming back to my yoga mat over and over again is that my practice always seems to deliver what I need, whether I came looking for it or not. I’ve had a lot on my heart and mind over the last few weeks as I’ve worked to navigate through determining the direction that I want to steer my personal and professional life.

I showed up at Charlotte Yoga last Friday for a 10:45 a.m. class with Grace Morales. I rarely have the opportunity to break away from my day and practice mid-morning and it’s even more rare that I get to do so with Grace. I have had so many questions and emotions swirling around in me lately and I needed a Grace class. And as always Grace delivered on providing a great message that I needed to hear but it was what happened after class that shook me.

Many of you have heard me talk often of Suzanne Bergen, the teacher who is responsible for my falling head over heels in love with yoga years ago. She was also in class practicing on Friday and we started talking after class. She can totally read me and when we broke she pressed a sheet of paper into my hand and told me it was the reading she used in the class she taught earlier in the day and she wanted me to have it.

I settled in and unfolded the sheet of paper a few hours later and read words that I desperately needed to hear.

Miraculous Independence

“In today’s meditation we will reflect on the beautiful truth that we are already whole. We were created by universal intelligence as a complete expression of love, wisdom, and happiness. If we feel like something is missing, it is because we are seeing through the eyes of our ego-mind, which has a limited perspective of our infinite, divine nature.

With the realization that we already have everything we need and desire, we give up the exhausting search to find that person or situation or achievement to make us feel whole. We stop waiting for someone to complete us and open to the love that is right here, right now, in our own heart. And from that boundless well of spirit, we are free to share the deepest experience of love with the people in our lives.

Our centering thought for today is:

All I seek is within.

The reading is from Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation challenge. I’ve actually heard really great things about this program so I encourage you to read more about it.

alliseek(source)

I, in turn, read this meditation to my yoga class on Sunday morning along with sharing the story of how it came to me. So many things about this reading resonate with me, starting with the title. Miraculous Independence. The strength of that phrase alone sets the tone for the words that follow it. It is so easy to attach our happiness and self-worth to external things such as relationships, careers, achievements, possessions and so on.

shiva

(source)

One thing that I have tried so hard to focus on in my own life and continually talk to my yoga classes about is that we have to be good with ourselves before we can be a good partner, employee, friend, etc. We have to be confident in who we are and what our purpose is here and clear about how we want to feel. No other person or thing can make you feel that way. We all know that people, jobs, achievements, possessions can disappear in the blink of an eye. We are all deserving of external sources of happiness and they feel so good but we cannot attach to them. At the end of the day, you will always be left with you. This is why it’s so important to love yourself all the way down to the very core of your being.

8.10om

Many of you have asked about the necklace that I always wear. A year ago I had Erin McDermott make me a custom disk necklace with the mantra, “Om Namah Shivaya.” The mantra literally means, “I bow to Shiva.” Shiva is the supreme reality, the inner self. It is the name given to the consciousness that dwells in all. Shiva is the name of your true identity – your true self. The inner self remains in tact when everything else ends. I can count the number of times I’ve taken this necklace off over the past year on one hand. I wear it as a daily reminder to honor Shiva and my true self.

I’m not 100% certain of my “infinite, divine nature” and I do still question and doubt myself more often than I would like. It’s something I have to consciously work on daily as I process a range of emotions and allow myself to open, forgive and peel the layers back.

All I seek is within. 

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • 1
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine August 27, 2013, 11:56 am

    This was a beautiful post Jen! The reading is perfect. I think we all struggle and have to work daily on finding our true selves. You are definitely not alone on that journey!

  • 2
    Carolyn August 27, 2013, 12:16 pm

    Thank you so much for posting that, it was exactly what I needed today 🙂

  • 3
    Cort August 27, 2013, 1:30 pm

    I love your blog so much and am sorry that you have had somewhat of a heavy heart lately. You talk so much about your yoga practice and meditation but it seems as though you struggle with ever really finding true peace; instead, it seems as though you constantly encounter artificial, filler peace that requires you to be constantly seeking desperately. Rather than bowing to your inner self, which ultimately doesn’t seem to be granting you real fulfillment, I would like to encourage you to consider Jesus and what his Word promises those who believe and call on Him. I don’t know much about a lot of things, but I PROMISE, there you will find the kind of peace you have been searching for and the exact peace God wants especially for your life. You are incredibly beautiful and have so much to offer the world! Thanks for your blog and being open and honest!

    • 4
      Katie August 27, 2013, 6:24 pm

      Amen!! So thankful that someone responded with this message.

      • 5
        Brooke August 27, 2013, 6:57 pm

        Your comment makes it sound like Christians never struggle, never experience inner conflict, and are always peaceful, which is simply untrue. Seeking peace outside of religious faith isn’t “artificial, filler peace.” Seeking true peace within yourself is part of being human; it is part of personal growth and the process of evolving into the person you’re meant to be. Just because Jesus is your answer doesn’t mean it’s the only answer.

        • 6
          Whitney August 29, 2013, 8:40 am

          Cort- you took the words right out of my mouth and I think you said it beautifully!! Looking only within ourselves to find comfort and peace will not get you where you want to be. I hope you find your happiness Jen. I am rooting for you!

    • 7
      Ellen C-P August 30, 2013, 12:26 am

      Religions are the words we all use to describe the same experience – while the words may be different, the experience is all the same. Finding peace through yoga and mediation are words to describe the same experience many people feel singing hymns in church. When you say Jen is bowing to her inner self, she is also bowing to God, as God lives within each and every one of us. The “word” to describe the experience may be Shiva, or Jesus, or something as simple as breath – but it is all the same experience of God. Tripping up on the semantics will steal your joy and confuse others on their personal path.

  • 8
    holly August 27, 2013, 1:35 pm

    I absolutely love this post.

    Perfect message! <3

  • 9
    Dana Star August 27, 2013, 2:32 pm

    Perfect.

  • 10
    Claire August 27, 2013, 3:30 pm

    this was beautiful. I will be saving this post to read over in the future when I need it again.

  • 11
    She Rocks Fitness August 27, 2013, 4:35 pm

    Beautiful Beautiful Beautiful! I actually asked Erin about this necklace last week and I am seriously considering asking her to make me one as well. I would love to wear something like this close to my heart. 🙂 This post is so true and something that I too think about on a daily basis. XOXO

  • 12
    Brooke August 27, 2013, 5:25 pm

    seriously, this was just what i needed today. Thanks Jen, love your blog.

  • 13
    Cort August 27, 2013, 7:40 pm

    I certainly did not mean to imply that Christians never experience unrest; if I did, I’m sorry because that’s definitely not the case. I simply meant to share what has personally brought a kind of peace I had always searched for into my life. Again Jen, I think you and your blog are both equally beautiful! Blessings!

  • 14
    Emily August 27, 2013, 8:57 pm

    As a Christ follower, today’s post greatly wears heavy on my heart. I have been reading your blog for several years now, and there is so much about you and your life that I have looked up to in the past. But since lately I have sensed a huge change in both your attitude and outlook on life, I have been feeling a need to share my heart. Every day would be a struggle for me if I only put all of my thoughts and energy in trying the “figure” myself out – I was born a sinner and will constantly dissapoint myself and others for the rest of my life. We were ALL born this way. To seek peace with being a “perfect” person is 100% IMPOSSIBLE. Therefore, to worship (“bow down to”) yourself will NEVER satisfy you or provide you with this true peace that you know your heart and soul desires. I have been in this same place myself. So the only thing I want to leave with is the truth that if you turn FROM yourself and seek The Lord with all your heart and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.

    • 15
      jennyv August 28, 2013, 10:35 am

      Well said.

      • 16
        Whitney August 29, 2013, 8:46 am

        Nicely put Emily! “Yoga Church” is not the answer.

        • 17
          Cathleen August 29, 2013, 5:07 pm

          And for the majority of Homo sapiens who have inhabited planet earth over the last two million years, neither is “jesus.”

          Fun fact: yoga predates christianity by several thousand years.

          All the christian proselytizing prompted by this post may be rooted in good intentions, but to minimize Jen’s experience by saying that her current spiritual strategies are “not the answer” doesn’t seem like a particularly helpful way to attract more sheep to the jesus flock.

  • 18
    jessica August 27, 2013, 9:27 pm

    beautiful post. a favorite. thank you.

  • 19
    Lisa August 27, 2013, 9:40 pm

    I very much needed to read this today Jen, thank you for your post. I also love your blog and as soon as my expensive Pure Barre membership is up 😀 I’ll be back at Y2 more regularly and definitely in Yoga Church. Thank you Thank you.

  • 20
    Anne Marie August 27, 2013, 9:42 pm

    Beautiful post. This one and Teri’s post have got me thinking about a return to yoga.

    In February, I dislocated my patella in eagle pose (the knee cap I was standing on slid out and stayed out, eek!) I’ve been too nervous to go back, that it might happen again in another pose, or that I won’t be able to relax. My NY resolution was to become stong enough in my practice to start yoga teacher training by the end of the year, so having an injury during a class was devastating.

    I’m still not sure that I’ll go back, but thank you so much for reminding me of the beauty of the practice!

  • 21
    Steph August 27, 2013, 9:45 pm

    This post and some of the comments made me think of this quote by C.S. Lewis.

    “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

  • 22
    Teri [a foodie stays fit] August 27, 2013, 9:53 pm

    this was such a powerful message during practice on sunday! thank you and thanks to Grace! and I LOVE that necklace. I was eyeing it during brunch 🙂

  • 23
    Holly August 27, 2013, 11:05 pm

    I am a longtime blog reader and always love attending your BP classes. I’ve never felt compelled to comment but was encouraged by Cort and Emily. I pray that your unrest will result in knowing that you can’t do this alone. We were created to feel like something is missing in our lives when we don’t know Jesus. There is so much happiness and peace that can only come from an intimate relationship with the one that created us! Love your blog! Hope you find the peace you are so fervently searching for.

  • 24
    Eva August 28, 2013, 1:47 am

    I find all these preaching comments unnecessary. Jen never asked for suggestions on choosing a faith. Many people live perfectly fulfilling lives without “knowing Jesus” and to state otherwise is highly insulting. Maybe you’re trying to help… but it just comes off as incredibly offensive to imply that others that don’t believe the same things as you do must have something missing in their lives.

    • 25
      erin August 28, 2013, 7:14 am

      I agree, Eva. Everyone has transitional moments in life, and most people struggle to find their footing at one time or another. This is perfectly normal. To say that Jesus is the answer is ignoring the fact that not everyone is Christian, first, and second, it negates anyone else’s path but your own, which is not compassionate. And I personally don’t believe that being a Christian and honoring your true self are mutually exclusive anyway.

      Jen, I see myself in you. It’s like watching my late 20s all over again at times 🙂 which is why I’ve reached out in emails before. Life is a beautiful mess, and so is the journey. I love this post, and I wish you peace.

  • 26
    TW August 28, 2013, 6:38 am

    Hi there. I’ve read your blog for some time, it is one of the few (only) that I read consistently. You are adorable in so many ways, grounded, and more authentic than most. The fact that you are a Georgia fan makes it so much better too! As I was reading this post, I wanted to write to you for the first time. It’s true, I think, that you can’t find someone or something to fill the inner “missing”. And it’s true I think that the ideal partner or friend would be someone who is further towards self actualization. However, I hope you can find some comfort in that even if we aren’t completely “good with ourselves” we can still be a meaningful partner and friend. While I agree that it’s so important to keep moving towards self love and acceptance and enlightenment (in whatever language folks want to use), the fact remains that we are flawed and always will be. Having a partner or friend who accepts that and supports us on our journey is the key. I say this as someone married nearly 15 years, mother to three, but immensely flawed and still working out loving myself on a regular basis. I guess what I mean is that, for me, it isn’t somewhere that I arrived at before I could be a healthy part of my marriage or a supportive mother. It is somewhere that I keep moving in the direction of, with mistakes and forgiveness along the way from all parties involved. As others have said, your heart does seem heavy. But I have faith that you are working it out.

  • 27
    Brandi August 28, 2013, 6:45 am

    I think it’s in all of us to want fulfillment and contentment, I am must not sure that I agree that it’s in our own power to receive that fulfillment. It’s understandable that you (Eva) would feel that it’s “preachy”, but I think that it’s also fair to say that they were just sharing their hearts as well.
    I am also a Christ follower and would certainly never pretend to have it all together (Christians get depressed, have doubt, lose their focus, can be selfish), but by having Christ in my life I have a hope in me that isn’t like a hope this world can give me. I believe that we are made to want more, made to desire things, made to seek out, but it’s just what we seek and whom we seek that is telling. Peace, yes is something that is sought but for my own self I can’t deny that that peace only comes from Christ.
    Blessings Jen.

  • 28
    Pam August 28, 2013, 7:06 am

    This was a beautifully written post from a seekers heart. I loved the meditation reading and your honesty. I was wondering if Erin ships her pieces. I would love a necklace with a custom quote. Continue on your path and trust the journey. Love.

  • 29
    Elizabeth Gomez August 28, 2013, 9:02 am

    Jen I cant begin to tell you how bad I needed this today. I have been so tough on myself lately. Thank you. I am really going to try to make it into your yoga church this Sunday. Need some time for further reflection.

  • 30
    Taylor August 28, 2013, 1:33 pm

    Great post and thank you for sharing, Jen!! Love Suzanne, and always find something in the messages she shares before class. Many times over the years, I’ve said, “I just need a Suzanne class”. Yesterday when I saw your name on the schedule for this early morning, I said “I just need a Jen class”. And I was definitely smiling after!! Thank you!! TC

  • 31
    julia August 29, 2013, 10:49 am

    Really amazing article my teacher shared in class last night. My favorite part is below:

    Here is the thing. Yoga is not about bliss, but about honesty. Spirituality is not certainty, but the longing of the heart. Enlightenment is not ‘letting go’ of bad feelings, but understanding them, what they’re doing to us, and how they are expressed in the body. Non-harming and forgiveness are not about feeling generous or big enough (bigger than and condescending), but knowing the difficulty of right actions and assuming responsibility for the difficult. Forgiveness often comes directly out of acknowledging how bloody bitter we are. Love is not joy, all the time. Sometimes, love hurts. Love is raw.

    Yoga is a love story. Not the fluffy, romanticized love story, but the real one. The kind that leaves you changed.

    http://www.returnyoga.org/2013/08/21/rage-fear-sadness-fatigue-and-yoga-the-yoga-of-darkness/

  • 32
    Annie August 30, 2013, 8:19 pm

    Spirituality is defined by what gives your life purpose and meaning. Being spiritual does not mean being religious, but being religious does mean being spiritual. There are research studies that have been done that show that having meaning/spirituality in your life (especially when you are sick or depressed) leads to better health outcomes! So whether your rituals are going to yoga, church, running, or reading a book with a glass of wine at night, make sure to do what gives you life meaning. Jen, I think you are on the right path 🙂

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