I shared my Yoga story at the Awaken to possibilities Yoga Teacher Training programme I hosted on the last weekend in January 2017. So thought I’d share it here too.
I’m a super creative, Mother of two, devoted wife, student and teacher of yoga, I’ve designed homes for multi millionaires and I’ve seen over 50 countries (lots I still want to see) as I travelled and worked on luxury liners overseas. I paint. I love to move and dance and I’m chatty, I love to talk… a lot.
So I’m working on my listening skills,
Learning to listen to my kids more, husband more, students feedback, my teachers advice, my intuition, the universe, I’m learning to trust and listen to the universe. Finally I understand it has a say and I’m all ears, because I’m also;
A self confessed comfort Junkie, I’m hyper sensitive and a thinking addict.
My clinical label is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but I see now the root of my behaviour is quite simply human condition. My teenage years and into my twenties were an all consuming existential crisis, questioning what is my purpose, am I enough, demanding control of that which I have no control and living in total fear of being unloved/unloveable.
I like fear’s familiarity, revisiting self sabotage in a darkly ‘better the devil you know way’ is a stark avoidance of sitting with the unknown, the discomfort of the worlds wounds felt so deeply. I chose for over a decade to reject love and happiness because of all the risk and pain it presented. Whilst constantly running to and seeking reassurance in co dependent relationship after relationship I was actually much too afraid to choose the affection and respect I desired, least till I met my now husband anyway.
As a teenager I chose instead to develop mental (and occasionally physical) Compulsions that distracted me from my suffering, anesthetised the excruciating uncertainty of my life and created a safety net I could wear like a badge. I’m Claire and I have OCD. Not that I knew it’s tag, until I was 10 years down the road of self starving, mind numbing, body obsessing, alcohol binging, over eating, exercise purging, self inflicted abuse. And in my defence I knew no better. I developed coping strategies for the pain I encountered. It was as creative as it was naïve. And the powerful patterns of my mind are no more my fault than they are also the trappings of modern culture – still I have to take responsibility for what I choose my thoughts to mean. There is no blame here only learning. Disempowered for years by rigid beliefs that created my skewed perception and projection of the world. I was freed finally by the knowledge that I am not my thoughts that the love I seek is a love and light within me more magical and majestic than any story my ego could create. I just need look within….. and listen
“Divorce the story and Marry the truth” my teacher and mentor would say and it would be quite sometime after I first heard this that the reality of the statement would set in.
Back as a child my obsessions began with rumination around dark intrusive thoughts that I just couldn’t let go, what did they mean about me. Why did I have them!? Coupled with a sense of always feeling not cool enough, pretty enough, smart enough or wealthy enough, I built on beliefs that I was different and alone.
As the intrusive thoughts were quite disconcerting, the deep and complex layering that is common with mental health became an obsession with how I looked self labels like I’m fat….I’m ugly kick started a pre occupation with my weight and shape that lasted for years as I tried to neutralise uncomfortable feelings and numb my sensitivity with food and alcohol.
Within this I was at times outwardly successful. I pursued my dream of dancing professionally (for a brief time) and when I exhausted those dreams I went onto university graduating with a 1st class honours and gaining a glamorous job I called my new career.
Through my twenties I also compromised my safety, stripped for money, married on a whim and separated a year later, lost an unborn child, the cost of living my fear adventurously was vast. I hurt and deserted my close family and no amount of outward ego driven searching could soothe the gaping hole in my heart that I just couldn’t fill up wherever in the world I ran.
In 2010 I married my gorgeous husband all seemed well and yet something still didn’t flow, like a thorn in my side I felt an imposter, like I didn’t fit in and wasn’t enough in my work, with my friends, not good enough for the job or the husband and I didn’t feel I deserved to be happy (or was afraid to be!?). I was terrified my husband would leave me or my boss would fire me. I lived in fear.
I’d left behind much of my obsessions with food and now raw and exposed and still unwilling to feel, with no where to go emotionally, once again my darkly uncomfortable intrusive thoughts from my teenage years returned. My avoidance techniques to avoid the ‘bad’ thoughts, grew and constant rumination about the risk of harm and danger to my family became all consuming. I broke down, I exhausted therapy options and as I tried to give away my first child in a new low and absolute despair there was only one way up.
I started to practice yoga, and every difficult day I came to the Mat and I moved fast and breathed slowly. In movement I started to feel again, let feelings flow through me. I moved through many layers of deep emotional pain and I was still at the tip of the iceberg in terms of a healing process. A few years earlier I had stopped eating gluten on clinical advice and this had flourished into a keen interest in nutrition. Now I looked to daily yoga and healthy eating and a journey of powerful transformation began. In 2013 with Bella my daughter a little over One I took a yoga teacher training programme with Live a vital life Teacher Training Academy then called Hot Power Yoga London.
Slowly over a several week process we started to peel away the layers that hid the shining light beneath. My authentic self would peek out from under the layers both when I practiced and lead classes. Back to the younger days when I danced for joy and escape, once again the mind body connection gave me a break from my worry and overthinking. The concepts of Mindfulness and meditation were quite simply changing my life through the stillness and quiet they provided. Moving in the powerful Vinyasa yoga style was opportunity to express.
The journey to owning my own Yoga studio and leading my community had begun and though the path would get a little bumpy I never lost sight of my ‘why. My passion and purpose and my dedication to share the love and knowledge that we can all fulfil our potential, accept ourselves and know love. That when we connect to our bodies, hear our intuition and look within there is light through even the most dense darkness. We are never too bad or too broken to shift our projection of the world and fulfil our wildest dreams.
Post my training qualification a year of mentored learning allowed me to explore, practice, teach, live authentically, messing up, making changes, feeling feelings, connecting to others, being vulnerable, sharing that vulnerability, accepting my OCD as a part of me.
Yoga brings me into balance it saved my life and has empowered me to grow in all aspects of my physical & mental wellbeing. Physical asana taught me to feel, Meditation showed me I was not my thoughts, my training and coaching allowed me to see I was human and that my experience connects me with others. That I have a community of like minded individuals I can connect to at any time and it’s called the world. Others can relate and understand and love you infinitely if you let them. You can love yourself infinitely if you put trust in the universe and relinquish control to higher powers.
I wake with a vital sense of drive, a passion to share ‘the cure to my crazy’ so others might too pursue there hopes and dreams shedding the ties that bind them, the beliefs that keep them trapped and share love and light in their own ways and communities.
My road will wind but like a river I’m ready to move with knowing there is no salvation in fear and love is the only way to meet the obstacles in the road. I feel sure guidance will find me again when I get off track.
My advice to you, find what you love to do and do it often, your yoga maybe yoga it maybe spotting trains, what makes you present and connects you to your body, to feel joy even if fleeting, is your magic and your first step to an empowered spiritual life with meaning.
I wish exciting adventurous Listening, feeling, living and loving to you all ……..and if you don’t know where to start the spiritual thing, try yoga ; ) ;