by Carrie Renee • April 27, 2018
After years of personal development work trying to figure myself out, here I am letting it all go.
I found myself to forget myself.
Let me explain.
Like most Americans, life was served to me. You behave this way. You believe these things. A timeline was given to me for school, more school, marry a man (with a good job who can support me), have a baby, and etc, etc… the rest of my life.
Plus, I’m a woman. I don’t know about you and your experience of your gender, but my experience being a girl was what I would consider stereotypical. “Look pretty, be cute, and smile.” (Just the other day another man I didn’t know felt the need to remind me that it was his preference that I smile as I passed him on the street. Ugh.) “Be agreeable.” “Don’t make waves.” This kind of programming left me disconnected from my will, my sense of Self, my opinions, my preferences, my boundaries, or an ability to say “no” (except to my mother ;-).
I have spent most of my adult life not knowing me and being pretty darn upset about it.
When I first started doing the work of Solsara (back then called Naka-Ima), I was 22 years old. During the “reflection” part of the weekend, I would get “you are graceful” and it ignited something in me. While I like being graceful and do resonate with that quality of being, the essence of me burned “I’m not graceful. I’m quiet because I’m afraid to be me.” People saw grace and I felt fearful, diminished, small.
So I kept studying myself—learning, listening, reflecting, and laughing at it all, all the while looking to the outside world for my sense of okayness, value, and sense of Self.
Over many years since, I have woven a web of understanding; how I orient to the world, how I orient to others and relationships, and why I am the way I am.
I have freed pent up emotions. I have moved my body in bold and subtle ways. I have let myself feel my truth over and over and over again. I have exposed my shame in front of people. I’ve become comfortable with the uncomfortable. I have said “No.” I have unpacked experiences from my childhood. I have raged, in role-play, at my maternal family. I have dismantled layers of protection and holding. I have been courageous. I have learned to deeply love and accept myself.
Is it still a journey?
Do these challenges still present themselves?
But there is something about weaving this web of “knowing” myself that I want to share here. It is not the stories that have woven the web. It is not my mental understanding of what happened or any sorting into categories. It’s not about labeling myself as “graceful” or “quiet” or “afraid” or even “courageous.”
Identity is a tricky thing in this human experience. Who are you? Can you put your finger on it? Once you think you know, you have already changed. We are changing beings, constantly shifting. Any “knowing” is inherently a limitation to your own evolution. And any “trying” to know is just simply exhausting.
My identity, my sense of Self, is not an accumulation of life stories or even qualities of my personality. It is definitely not what I wear nor my friends and family. My identity is a deep relationship with Self. It is how I engage with me— how I love me, trust me, treat me, and welcome me. It is my internal conversation—not the content—but the tone, the energy, and the love.
So much of Solsara is about the study of Self—learning to observe in mindfulness “what is happening now?” In small groups we unfold together. We share our life experiences, our struggles, our limitations, and our celebrations. All of this I deeply value and welcome you to come explore with us.
Yet, I recognize that there is a particular practice that has been extremely helpful in this process—whatever you’re looking at, recognize it, care for it, and let it go. Don’t hold on. Don’t hold onto the stories, the struggles, the catharsis, the definitions of Self. Welcome it all. Illuminate it. Accept it. And let it go. Do not let it define your sense of Self.
You are a burning light that has been ignited. Let it change and be new. The ashes remain but the “you” is in the power of the fire. Choose to know that.
In this moment.
And this moment.
And this moment.