Our deepest human fear is that we are not enough and no one will love us.
When I was young I was never very popular or athletic. Gym class was my least favorite class by far. I can still recall the traditional shaming ritual our gym teacher put us through. Two captains would be given the responsibility to divide the class into teams. This usually involved said captains taking turns to pick a player for each team until there was no one left.
If you’ve ever experienced any high degree of emotional stress about this part of gym class you will recall that there are three distinct phases to team selection. The strongest, fastest and most popular girls are chosen first. Each selection is accompanied by celebration as the all stars of the team express their jubilation at playing on the same side. How they managed to stay so excited class after class is still beyond me.
Next the players of average ability are quickly chosen. Their job is to pass the ball to one of the more athletic girls pretty much the instant they receive it. This task is performed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Then finally those with less than adept athletic ability are rummaged through. We are just as likely to kick the ball toward our own goal as pass it to one of the dashing sports stars. Each captain agonizes over whose affliction they think will prove least dire. Each selection is accompanied by groans and laughter until there are only two.
My greatest hope in gym class is that I would not get picked last. A hope hardly ever realized.
Growing up I learned in no uncertain terms – I was not enough.
A Place Where I Am Enough
For almost fifteen years I carried this imprint with me. “Not enough” was my samskara and it infected every part of who I was. Despite having a successful career, being married and owning my own home, nothing I could possibly do would ever make me enough. I was fat, unhealthy and miserable.
It was with great trepidation that I first dared step foot in a yoga studio. For years places of exercise were protected from me by a firm psychological barrier. The sign on the gym might as well say, “24 Hour Guilt and Shame”, or “Gold’s Gym is laughing at you” – it felt about as welcoming. Yet despite the internal rebukes I found the courage to try, and I took my firt yoga class.
I was horrible. My lopsided triangle barely lasted long enough to qualify as a shape, awkward pose lived up to it’s name, and my balance was so wobbly my tree looked like a weeping willow. Yet the instructor encouraged me, she told me I was right where I needed to be, she told me to honor my body.
Noone had ever told me to honor my body before. A body was for shame, a tubby testament that I would never be enough.
But someone told me to honor my body. She made me feel that maybe there was something worth honoring. That maybe I didn’t need to be someone to be worth something.
So I came back.
Not because yoga was comfortable, or pleasant. Not because I suddenly became fitter or stronger.
I came back because for an hour someone would tell me that I was enough. For an hour I could pretend that I was enough.
As the hours turned to weeks, turned to months I actually started to believe that I was enough. My physical body was stronger, toned and healthy. Yet it was only a shadow of the transformation that had already taken place inside of me. I had developed a new relationship with myself through yoga.
You Are Not Enough
For six years yoga has been a place where I am enough. Whether I’m relaxing into my strongest Warrior II or falling over in Crow I have always felt secure in the knowledge that I am enough. The hour on my mat is a place to honor my body without judgment or recrimination.
Yoga is the sanctuary I retreat to when the world overwhelms me. Quiet. Nourishing. Safe.
I had just completed my audition for an internship at Core Power Yoga. 200 hours of teacher training, 6 weeks of Extensions practical preparation and more than 60 yoga classes. For the last 4 months yoga has been my constant companion, all culminating in an audition of just 7 minutes.
In 7 minutes my entire yoga journey was weighed, and I was judged not enough.
My sanctuary shattered. Shards of broken glass cut icy disappointment into my soul. The foundation cracked and beneath it I saw all the lies I had piled up. The years of believing I was beautiful and strong were exposed for what they really were – an illusion. I was no different than the fat, miserable woman who first dared step foot in the studio six years ago.
I was not enough.
I would never be enough.
I haven’t dared step back into the studio for three days. An unheard of eternity for me. I’m afraid that I’ll find all my old demons gathered there. A smirk on their face as they laugh, “And to think she actually thought she could do it” before unleashing another hearty chortle at my expense.
By some accident of fate I was previously committed to teach a yoga class this morning at another studio. Deeply conflicted I stepped into the studio and started the class with a simple meditation:
You are enough
And I taught.
I know I’m not enough. But perhaps, if I could help someone else realize they are enough, then we could be enough together.