Listening to My Heart

My adventure has not started the way I expected it to back in July, but it is playing out better than I could have expected. What I have learned is to listen to my heart and not my ego. 

To back up a little, this past year I took two months off work to go to India for my yoga teaching certification. I spent 6 weeks at an Ashram practicing yoga four hours a day, six days a week, along with two hours of anatomy & philosophy. It was a magical experience that is forever ingrained in me. My yoga switch was turned on, and living out a yogic lifestyle has been my goal ever since. Now I know when someone from the Western world hears 'yoga' they immediately think of cool poses, but the physical postures, or asanas, is only one limb of yoga. The philosophy of yoga is to obtain perfection in each and every action we make. Perfection is nothing but effortlessness which equals concentration, and having the ability to be present in the present moment. In order to get to this point, we must first have understanding, which is a state of acceptance that leads to exact valuation of life. Yoga is the journey to you, it is the self we think we are, and the self we actually are. It converts human doing to human being. 

The challenge I faced when coming home was maintaining a consistent practice the way I had in India. I maintained the friendships I made and have been fortunate enough to have a few of my friends visit me in San Francisco. After coming home and getting back into a work routine, I missed my lifestyle at the Ashram. I continued to give up beef, and even gave up my once beloved bacon. India really opened up my heart up in a new way. I felt the oneness with and connection to the universe.  I feel an emotional attachment to cows and pigs and believe our treatment of them is inhumane. Therefore, as I can no longer support this, I've given up eating them. I feel amazing, but it's been a challenge adopting a new mentality when I was before a heavy meat eater. I'm still working on finding a sustainable balance with the foods I eat. I've noticed there have been more carbs and soy in my diet. I want to spend time learning more about healthy vegetarian options. I feel that, in the long run, eating animals is something I can give up entirely. 

What I needed most when I came home was a sign to confirm why I was here because I was already itching to travel again. Going back to my all time favorite quote: "When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it," is true once again. I found my satisfaction in being home and working in the Corporate world when I used a resource that had been in my calendar all along, but had not made it a priority. It was a weekly optional mindfulness over lunch for Corporate Affairs.  What better sign could I have received than the ability to integrate a mindfulness practice into my Corporate job? The second sign came when I met a co-worker who was also a yoga teacher and we had an honest call about being our true selves. Shortly after, we decided to put my yoga skills to use and I began teaching yoga in the office every Tuesday at lunch. Unfortunately, this only lasted for about two months because there wasn't an actual space for the practice. But the fact that I found yoga & mindfulness in my work life was the confirmation I needed to feel I was where I needed to be. 

Not long after joining the mindfulness calls, I took on a leading role with another co-worker to make sure we had a meditation and consistent practice in place. It was magical, and gave me the sense of belonging I've desired from my job. I was able to be my entire being and meditate along side coworkers at my work. Our job is a big consumer of our time and if we aren't able to be our entire selves at our job, then something is missing. What I have learned is in order to live a happy life, we must bring our entire selves with us. 

Stemming from the mindfulness calls, I found out there was a greater desire by many to spread the practice of mindfulness across Cisco. I got in contact with the head of Wellness and became part of the weekly calls to find a strategy/solution to bring mindfulness to Cisco. The world aligned and showed me the possibilities available. 

Meanwhile, as my work life was coming together, my personal life was evolving. A soul sister of mine and I put on our first wellness retreat. Maggie was the dominate factor that connected us to a friend of hers who offered his house in Mammoth for the retreat. Once we had the house, we set a date and Maggie's friend Allison took on the role of chef. Maggie lead the meditations and I taught yoga. It was a dream come true to watch our first wellness retreat unfold. I learned of the challenges right away when finding people to come, but what I learned in the end is everything works out perfectly. We had an incredible group come together from all over the US, some not knowing anyone, and connecting for a magical weekend. Check out the retreat overview here and the video

After that weekend, my pull to want to live out my passion of leading wellness retreats, teaching yoga, and being around likeminded people was too great to resist. I was presented with a decision I had to make the month before that aided in where I am now. My roommate's fiance was graduating from Business school and would be moving back to San Francisco, so I needed to find a new place. I knew in my heart I wasn't going to find anything better than the place I had. Nothing could beat having bay windows that overlooked the Golden Gate Bridge at a rent controlled price. Granted, the price was still high, but not what it could have been. It was in this decision that I decided to surrender myself to a lifelong dream of traveling the world. I would move back in with my parents to save money before quitting my job. 

Once this decision was made, July came quick and I packed up my stuff and moved back to Pleasanton. It has never been hard to live with my parents. They are two of the coolest people I have ever met, and I feel blessed to have had this option available. I was back in a busy house and had my mind set on saving money. 

In my free time, I began diving into travel blogs and researching how others have done it. It wasn't long before I found a site where you can volunteer around the world and be given free accommodation and sometimes even food. I spent hours looking at different opportunities, amazed by the volunteer projects people offered. I started putting my resources together to share with friends to prove how affordable travel could be. There were days when I wanted to leave the next day to go help. Eventually, I stumbled onto a volunteer opportunity that met my childhood dream of riding horses in New Zealand. You see, I applied for this and the lady was hesitant on my riding skills. But I assured her I would be a good fit and was a quick learner. The project was to be able to lead treks on horseback in New Zealand when she wasn't able. In return for my time, they were going to provide me a room, free food, and even a car to use on my days off. Talk about a dream come true and coolest volunteer project ever, right? 

Wrong. I overestimated what I was actually getting myself into when I started taking horseback riding lessons. Yes, I took my first lesson ever, after I had been accepted for the project. No, I did not tell the people this was the case. However, I have ridden horses many times growing up and was confident in my ability. I am the type of person who will be successful when I put my mind to it. Anyway, I started riding two days a week and was on a fast-track course to being a guide in two short months. My teacher was impressed with the progress I'd made and could see my determination, but I was in no means ready to lead a group on my own. I continued to go to lessons and had informed my job of my plans to leave at the end of Q1. I was set in my plan of heading to New Zealand in November. 

Finally, at the end of September, I was venting to my coworker who I had met when first returning from my travels, and who had taken up horseback riding with me. She said something that struck a cord, "Why can't you listen to your heart?" It was in that moment that I suddenly realized my ego was running the show. The idea of going to New Zealand and being a horseback riding trail guide was a fun story to tell, but my heart was not in it. My heart began to pull me back to what I ultimately wanted: To travel the world and dive deeper into my yoga practice.

I decided I had to be honest with the family and tell them I was not confident in my ability to lead guides and was extremely sorry for the inconvenience I had caused. Although they weren't happy, they did find it to be a blessing in disguise and that was that. The relief I felt was incredible. I had so much built up anxiety over mastering horseback riding, when in reality I shouldn't have been diving into a new skill. 

All in all, everything works out as expected and plays out just as it should. My parents had booked flights to visit me over Christmas in New Zealand. But when booking the flights, my mom requested I get travel insurance for the first time ever. Boy, did that work out in our favor. A week before I made up my mind to not do the volunteer project, my mom decided they would rather be home for the holidays due to my dad's health. My plans for New Zealand had been freed up and I had a clean slate to start planning.

While I prepared for my travels, a number of things continued to present themselves and make me question what I was doing. I was watching my friends fall in love, get engaged, get promoted, and here I was running away from all of that to be alone in another country?  Since integrating mindfulness into my work life, I had a new sense of fulfillment, and was I really just going to leave a job I love? Did I get that I was not going to have a job or be making money? Am I crazy? Should I just move back to SF and go on a long trip and still maintain a savings? Do I really want to be away from my friends and family? What about falling in love? Have I been pushing that out because I'm afraid to be vulnerable? Maybe some of these were true and did resonate, but what I learned is fear was driving these thoughts and the simplicity of what I wanted was to be free of any commitments and go travel. I am okay going off the beaten path. I yearn for the experiences outside of my comfort zone, because that is where I ultimately grow. There is no time limit I am attaching or holding myself to. I have saved up enough to feel comfortable not working for a year. I am giving myself the opportunity to be fully present and letting my heart lead, wherever it chooses to go. 

Surrendering to your dreams will always come with tests to see how badly you want it. I have faced numerous tests throughout July - October, and the end results have always been linked to fear or my ego. In October, I told my work I could stay longer now that I wasn't in a rush to get to New Zealand and was able to stay. This ultimately subsided my fear of running out of money since I had already accepted leaving, and was now making an additional month's pay. I knew in my heart what I ultimately wanted and ended up finding an Ashram in Colombia. Some of my friends had planned a trip to Colombia over New Years and I now had the opportunity to meet up with them. Everything aligning the way it has is as if my heart is thanking me for listening. 

You see, there is something you should know about me. When I truly want something, I will go after it with full force. A lot of people have told me that I am lucky and they don't get how things always work out for me. But the reality is this: I am the creator of my life. I have been manifesting the life of my dreams since I was in middle school and first read the book, "The Secret". The vision board I made 15 years ago came true in every aspect. I know that I can do anything if I set my mind to it. Our mind is our most powerful tool; what we think, we become. I created this blog to share with the world my mentality, and to inspire others to live out their wildest dreams.