In yoga, we talk a lot about heart openers.. you know those backbends that literally look like you’re stretching open your heart:
And it feels so good! … usually.
If it doesn’t feel good, it feels vulnerable and uncomfortable. Why? Because opening your heart is just that.. vulnerable and uncomfortable! But, in my experience, it’s worth it. After the scary unknown, there’s always something there waiting for me that wouldn’t have been able to get in my heart if it were still closed.
That’s what I experienced two years ago when I ventured off with my two friends, Niki and Sarah for a cross country, life-changing trip. In 40 days, we taught yoga at 15 different studios all the way to the West Coast and back. We raised over $2,000 for No Kid Hungry, our charity of choice, and met some pretty amazing people along the way.
Um.. how did this all even happen?!
Let’s flash back to February of 2015 when I was asked to travel the country with these two girls after making a donation to their GoFundMe page for the trip…
I was pumped. My heart said yes right away. But, after that initial response.. I asked SO many questions and the more questions I asked, the more I felt my fear creeping in on me. You know, those gremlins in your head as Brene Brown calls them..
You can’t do this. This is silly. You should be working all summer. Who do you think you are? You’ve never done anything like this. It’s such a bad idea. Don’t you dare do it.
Thank God I was a fresh and new yoga teacher and had all the tools I needed from teacher training to choose love over fear. After having the most thorough talk with Niki and Sarah and making sure I understood the logistics, I committed to the trip. I committed to doing this for myself. I was in. All the way. Was I scared? Of course! But, some part of me knew it would be worth it. I’m so glad I listened to that small part. Because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t.
So, you’re probably wondering what big thing happened that changed me? What was the outcome of leaning in to my vulnerability and trusting the process?
Let me take you on a journey..
We had worked relentlessly for months to strategically plan out our route, depending on when all of the studios could schedule in our workshop at their space. We strived to have a good balance of sight-seeing and relaxing with teaching yoga and connecting to like-minded yogis.
This somehow became the exact recipe I needed: 1/2 serving of beautiful, jaw dropping, sights that would make anyone believe in miracles..
..mixed with 1/2 serving of beautiful people that will show you what happens when you love yourself so deeply that all you want to do is love others..
It wasn’t just the people, it wasn’t just the sights, it was the perfect combination of the two. The whole experience as one. Seeing what else is out there. Seeing all the love. The love on the earth we step foot on. The love in the souls we encountered. A different kind of love.. a new kind of love.. one that I didn’t even know existed.
One that I didn’t even know existed.
Until I went on this trip.
You see, this trip made me believe in love.
Growing up, I was surrounded by unhealthy examples of love. Poor communication, broken promises, no understanding or compassion, no effort to listen or to make the other person feel special, constant arguments, and no magic whatsoever. I thought love was that. I didn’t want that.
I wanted this. This kind of love that I saw on my trip. The love of everything and everyone around me. The love in something new and exciting.
A big part of my change of belief was when we stayed in people’s homes along the way. The yoga teachers, yogis, and family members we stayed with all within 40 days. I was able to see myself as an older figure. You see, I always pictured myself being so happy on my own, teaching yoga, traveling, and being in this life me, myself, and I. But, I saw all these beautiful people have children and grandchildren and loving husbands and I realized I did want that. It was my mind that was fooling me and telling me I didn’t. Because I was scared. But, then again, who isn’t?
In order to get that, you have to open your heart. You might get hurt. You might cry. You might even lose the person you love the most one day. Love anyway. And love hard. Because the love you feel when you have an open heart is worth the risk. Or at least that’s what I think anyway.
“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.” – Neil Gaiman
Be well, my open-hearted friends, ♥