After 48 hours of traveling I landed at my ashram in India for the very first time. I had left Santiago, Chile, my home for 2 years, with a layover in Brazil, Abu Dhabi, New Dehli and finally after a 13 hour train ride, into the Madya Pradesh, of Northern Central India, otherwise up to that point in my life, into the unknown.
I had left my boyfriend of nearly a year, and in my gut, I knew I would not be returning to that relationship. But I had a journey to go on, a new relationship was about to be formed, the one with myself.
My entire life I have struggled with confidence issues. I never felt quite good enough in any situation, especially my body and to be honest, my overall worth. These issues were not given to me at a finite point or crucial situation in my life. Over time, I just developed not loving myself enough.
A stranger picked the few of us up who were unknowingly on the same 13 hour train ride in a 6 seater van. He threw our luggage on top of it, somehow with the confidence of knowing it would not fall off, or perhaps not caring. We pulled up to the gated ashram, with three white buildings on the property, and a landscape view of nothingness, which would house my everything for 3.5 weeks.
I left for this journey to study yoga, my only goal was to go to an immersion program to get certified to teach and that way I would know if it was really for me. But something else happened, no wait, so much else happened. And I'll get into it later, but for now, let me tell you about this important lesson I learned over those 3.5 weeks.
I can hold my ground in a crowded setting, I can listen and I can make people laugh. That's never been my issue. But letting them see what goes on behind the curtain, the pain of not feeling worthy, that had been peacefully lying dormant for a long time. Well, it wasn't dormant to me, but others, they weren't allowed to see it, not all of it. We took a class every day discussing philosophy. And for the first few days, I soaked it in. It was a lot of information that I had never discussed nor understood before this time. I had never taken a philosophy class and philosophy was so much more abstract than I had ever imagined.
One day, I started to speak up, I started to argue with my teacher. I found my voice in a classroom on lessons that I didn't follow, in understanding nor in believing. One day I argued about the value that happiness played in my life, I argued that being in a state of emotions was proof of our humanity, of mine at least. Happiness doesn't last, he taught, but neither does sadness, he explained.
This conversation, this lesson, had a longer lasting effect on my overall self worth than he probably imagined it would when he set out his theory for the day.
I found my voice on the cold hard tile floor of the yoga room at an ashram in Northern Central India while teaching yoga with confidence after arguing the purpose of happiness by an old giant tree during our philosophy lesson earlier that day. I spoke up for what I believed in, against someone else's beliefs and I wasn't belittled for it. I stood in what I knew and what I didn't understand with confidence, because what I felt, was worth speaking up for at the moment.
Finding my voice that day, lead me to where I am now, how I stand up for myself, for what is right for me, for what I believe is wrong. Sometimes I take my time, I give people a chance to do better by me, to be a better person for themselves. But what I learned through that experience of the feelings of happiness nor sadness not lasting forever, through the experience of speaking out loud what I believed to be true, is that my voice has a purpose and my presence has worth. Even when things don't last forever, like relationships, friendships, jobs, even life; the lesson is clear, my worth, your worth, my feelings and yours, they are proof of our humanity, of existing, of living.
I struggled with confidence issues, I still do, because I am human. But a few of the lessons I took away are that my existence is proof of life; my emotions are proof of living; using my voice, is proof of my worth.
Use your voice, say what matters to you, do not let anyone devalue your opinion nor your beliefs, but be kind, educate and be educated. Love your body, for it's flaws, imperfections and beauty. It houses those opinions, beliefs, emotions and knowledge. And when you feel ready, your body will let you express them.
I headed back to Santiago after this experience changed me, down to the cellular level. I was ready to face what was coming, knowing it wasn't going to last. It brought change, it brought pain, it brought courage and it brought me.