Wholeheartedness

I recently got a message from someone I’ve never met in person. This message was honest, open, and real. I was immediately struck by this DGbadgeperson’s willingness to be vulnerable, with me, a near-stranger. The admiration I felt was immediate, especially given my interest and enthusiasm for the research of Dr. Brene Brown into vulnerability, shame, authenticity, and courage (see previous post).

The definition of wholeheartedness in most dictionaries is usually something like “unconditional commitment” or “completely and sincerely devoted”. What Dr. Brene Brown means by whole-heartedness goes a bit further. In her own words: Here’s what is truly at the heart of whole-heartedness: Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.

Feeling worthy as we are, right now, in whatever state we find ourselves in, is not easy. As Yogis, though, this is at the heart of our practice. When we begin, we slowly start to observe the Divine nature of all things. As we progress, we recognize that we ourselves are part of the Divine and worthy of the same admiration, love and respect that we afford to those things that we deem “good enough”.  We are not separate or other. We are it. As we are. Right now.

If this is a concept you struggle with, congratulations! You’re one of us.

Early on in my own Yoga practice, it occurred to me that I was allowing my practice to become yet another area of my life where I wasn’t measuring up. When I sat in meditation and my mind began to wander, I started to feel like a failure. When I wasn’t as flexible as I had been the day before, I resented my body’s limits. When I struggled with equanimity, I would berate myself. Basically, I was completely missing the point. It took me a while to climb out of the whole I’d dug for myself, and to be honest, I sometimes come dangerously close to falling back in. But falling in, climbing out, dusting ourselves off, and being honest about our struggle – that is being whole-hearted. Making mistakes, learning from them, and being courageous enough to keep making mistakes is what it’s all about.

Namaste, yogis. Wholeheartedly wishing you wholeheartedness.

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Vulnerability

Chances are if you and I have had a discussion about anything even mildly important in the last two years, I’ve managed to bring up Dr. Brene wholeheartedbadgeBrown and her book  I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t). I’m also pretty sure I’ve mentioned that book on this blog at least once before. Her research on shame and shame resilience has had a profound effect on the way I see myself, the world, and the way I parent. Needless to say, I was thrilled when she made a recent appearance on one of my favorite podcasts, On Being. If you are a parent, or if you have parents, I highly recommend giving it a listen.

Her research on shame has led her to explore the role of vulnerability in connection and courage and what she has discovered is profound. The wisdom that she has unearthed for herself and others through her research is nothing that cannot be found in ancient traditions and philosophies,  Yoga included, but perhaps because of her scientific approach to these very familiar feelings, her findings feel very understandable and relateable to us modern folk.

Something she calls wholeheartedness – an ability to move through the world knowing that “I am enough” – seems especially important as we find ourselves in the midst of the holiday season. It is a time of celebration and joy, yes, but can also be a time of isolation and angst. Connecting with our families and friends and other loved ones can be wonderful or difficult or both.  It is often both and the vulnerability that we feel during these times can be a great source of connection, meaning, and courage if we allow it to be.

More on this later, but in the meantime, seriously, listen to the podcast. You’ll be glad you did.

And Happy Holidays to all!