How do you know what is right and what is wrong? It is a culmination of all things you’ve heard, seen, and been told your whole life. It’s largely what you were programmed with as a young child. You are told what is right and wrong and what is good or bad. You don’t get to decide these things for yourself. Your parents, the people around you, your peers, and the media determine how you feel and think about yourself as a person. Some people are lucky and have parents who encourage them to be independent. Some parents choose to bury their children in shame and self doubt until the child starts to behave in a way that the parent feels is right. We are taught to stifle our own intuition until we are scared and begin to doubt our own thoughts and feelings and replace them with more popular thoughts and socially acceptable behaviors.
Some of this is necessary but a lot of it isn’t. We are told how to dress, what to eat, what church to go to, what to think, what to look like, what to believe and what to dismiss, and how to feel. When people in our society go against these common beliefs or practices they are looked upon as bizarre or outcasts. What is the difference between what someone in Kenya believes and what someone in Idaho believes? Our thoughts and patterns, our sense of what is good and bad is simply a sum of childhood programming. If I was born in Kenya, I would have a different set of beliefs. Not because I am better or worse but simply because of where and who I was born to.
The first time we went to Kenya this concept really overwhelmed my mind for months after. I grew up in a bubble of sorts. Idaho is a safe and nice place to live but people here get stuck in the same rut, and all generally think the same way. It isn’t the best place to find a large base of open minded or enlightened people. I never really felt as though I fit in here, even though I’ve never lived anywhere else. As I became an adult, got married and had children, I really didn’t feel like I fit in. Looking back on it now, I realize that I felt this way because I was trying to appease or fit into a mold that the majority of people in this city are: white, religious, and housewives. I am one of those by birth, one by choice and not another also by choice. After coming back from Kenya the first time I realized that the World is a huge and diverse place and that for my own sanity I needed to get back to figuring out who I wanted to be and what I believed in, even if that meant not “fitting in” with the community around me.
I feel as though there were three parts to my journey: unconscious suffering, enlightenment, and recovery. What I have been writing about thus far was unconscious suffering, Kenya and many moments to come were enlightenment and the series of post that I am about to write are about recovery. This is still an ongoing process and it has taken me almost four years to get to the point that I am today. Kenya was the turning point in all of my struggles; it forced me to reevaluate my life and gave me a taste of joy that I wanted to have in my own day to day life. I also realized that I especially needed to figure out what was going on with my health. My body was telling me something with all of the pain that I was in and I needed to figure out what it was trying to tell me. I’m going to be honest, I have no idea why my journey took the form that it did or why I made the choices in the order that I did but for whatever reason I decided to start listen to myself and following my intuition and it never lead me astray. If you are on a similar journey, I encourage you to listen to yourself. Sometimes the answers are already there.
The first answer that was given to me was that I needed to start moving my body more and I needed to get off of all the medication that I was on. This was a big task for someone who for the last two years had avoided leaving the house and was on multiple prescriptions for pain and depression. I decided that I would join a gym. It had classes and also a daycare so I could take my kids and not feel too guilty about leaving them. So I joined and I decided that I would go to a kickboxing class. I remember that day I was nervous. The class started at 9 o’clock. I got there early and waited for the class to start. The doors opened and people started filing in. I was geared up for a kickboxing class but people were putting mats on the ground. I turned to an older lady next to me and asked, “Is this kickboxing?”
No, she chuckled. This is yoga honey.
Yoga?! Oh hell, I thought, I can’t do yoga. Just as I was grabbing my things to book it out the door. The instructor came up and said, “Hi, I’m Jenny. Are you new to yoga?”
Uumm yes, I actually thought that this was kickboxing, I said.
Well you’re already here, she smiled. You might as well stay.
She handed me a mat. I took off my gym shoes, sat down on the mat, and closed my eyes as the other people were doing. She dimmed the lights. I could make out a faint chant in the music that she had on, Om Namah Shivaya played in the background and I was hesitant but felt myself being swept away.
*Click here to read more of My Journey*