The more work I do in Yoga, the more I realize that my focus is to help people realize their greatest, most expansive & ideal selves…to permit them to dream bigger than they ever thought acceptable, and then to pursue those dreams with unflinching confidence and determination. Whether these dreams embody one’s desire to live free of insecurities, or whether one dreams of being on a stage in front of tens of thousands of people, the road to realizing our greatest hopes is the same. In this era of shameless self-promotion, driven by the irrational hunger for fame (often with nothing to offer in return once the fame is achieved), we are conditioned by society and the media to focus on our selling points…how absolutely fantastic we are…how marketable, how picture-perfect, how dumbed down we can allow ourselves to get in order to be adored and devoured by the masses. It is exactly the flip side to this approach that fascinates me and which I encourage those who hear what I’m saying to pursue…to focus on what makes us different, what is unique to each of us, often tapping into that which remains buried under layers of defense mechanisms and insecurities. The traits and attributes that are specific to us as individuals (and that may have at one time or another been a point of embarrassment and shame) will largely determine how we are remembered, and it is in nurturing these differences that our greatest potential often unfolds.
The book I’m currently reading, Cutting For Stone, tells the tale of Abu Kassem, a merchant who held onto an old, deteriorating pair of slippers until they were falling apart, but when he finally tried to rid himself of them, disaster ensued. “When he tossed them out of his window they landed on the head of a pregnant woman who miscarried, and Abu Kassem was thrown in jail; when he dropped them in the canal, the slippers choked off the main drain and caused flooding, and off Abu Kassem went to jail…”
One bystander who is listening to this story remarks, “Abu Kassem might as well build a special room for his slippers. Why try to lose them? He’ll never escape.” After pondering this comment, the other people gathered for the storytelling realize the truth in the old man’s words. “The slippers in the story mean that everything you see and do and touch, every seed you sow, or don’t sow, becomes part of your destiny…The key to your happiness is to own your slippers, own who you are, own how you look, own your family, own the talents you have, and own the ones you don’t. If you keep saying your slippers aren’t yours, then you’ll die searching, you’ll die bitter, always feeling you were promised more. Not only our actions, but our omissions, become our destiny.”
So what are your slippers? And how long have you been trying to lose them? Have you succeeded, or are you still trying?