What can you learn from me? A bit of my story

First, here’s a bit about my story. I’m of the same vintage as Jeff Bezos (I’m actually three years younger, so there’s time for me to catch up…), so let’s do a comparison with him. In his lifetime, as everyone knows, he’s made billions and he’s heading for space. What have I done in my lifetime? Well, I’ve lived in three or four (depending how you count them) countries in the global South, where I worked as a volunteer teacher, and I have a PhD. I’ve written a book, I’ve edited and am waiting to publish another book (for which I have a contract), I’ve contributed chapters to other books, and I’m writing a novel.

Those are things I’ve done that Jeff Bezos hasn’t.

But in terms of impact, what has my impact been? Well, maybe I’m a slow burner. I don’t know what happened in Jeff’s early life. In mine, I had lots of privilege but also lots of trauma leading to mental health issues and the fact that this pushed me into a state of apathy and self disgust meant doing anything was hard. I experienced sexual abuse and have had a long-term, very debilitating eating disorder, throwing up two or three times a day, which meant I self-medicated with alcohol and drugs. All that slowed me down.

Yet, despite all this, I’m really extraordinarily and astonishingly grateful for all I’ve been through. Although I have a lot of reviewing to do, and I don’t understand why I didn’t die and why I had to go through so much abuse and suffering, to have such a difficult relationship with myself, a relationship that was constantly breaking down with an inability to escape from patterns that were deeply damaging, overlaid with secrecy and shame, it gives me a good mirror for understanding the state of the world and I certainly don’t have a Polyanna, everything’s great, attitude to how things are. I have ripped myself apart, sometimes literally ripping my hair out, or waiting on the road, not knowing where I would spend the night. I have a good understanding of violence, hatred, grief, guilt, and escapism, lethargy and utter despair. I’ve done my share of harm, largely in response to the harm done to me.

But I now know that all this is a brilliant way of understanding our relationship, not just with other humans, but with the more-than-human world. My healing, my integration, my yoga, has been to absorb these lessons, not by rejecting or overcoming, but by embracing, and that’s what I want to teach. Attitude polarisation is overcome by understanding our own particular perspective as just that, a point of view, and working to bridge the divide between facts, knowledge and wisdom. Kindness for ourselves is a direct mirror of kindness for others, and for the more-than-human world. And that requires attention and care. Which takes time. I have been lucky to have had time to reflect on all the time I spent being broken, and to begin to see that reflection itself is a manner of seeing, and of drawing together the shattered fragments of a life at once ordinary and extraordinary, a life full of contradictions and twists, but also full of lessons that are now here for the teaching.

I’ve also got a PhD, written a book, run three marathons, and am a mother to two wonderful independent people – all things I think amount to something of value!

Published by KnowYogaIreland

Yoga and philosophy. Non-dualism. I teach a practice that will enable you to change your attitude, through reflection, and that, in turn, will enable you to change how you practice. Your practice is not just how you behave on your yoga mat, so this applies to how you practice everything, from saying hello, to washing your hands, to the way you behave towards other people, animals, systems, and yourself. As you change, the world changes in return, letting love do what needs to be done.

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