What is growth? It’s a word I seem to use a lot, in my blogs and my posts and my daily conversation. But what is the true meaning of this word, if we delve under the surface, look past the obvious and try to feel the symbolism of this word. And why is it important?
I was always scared of coming to India. I’ve heard enough stories in the media to have this belief that it was an unsafe country, that as a woman I’d be targeted, that in a country of over a billion people it would be overwhelmingly loud and busy. And I don’t like loud so much, so just that alone was enough to bring the hard grip of fear.
However, I’ve also learned in my life that the things we are most afraid of, are usually the things that are the best for us. They are the things that create the most growth in our lives. And there it is again – that word. Growth.
And so, with fear taking a passenger seat beside me, I came to India.
It was about halfway through my yoga training in Rishikesh (at AYM – a school I cannot find the words to speak highly enough of) that I had a revelation, about fear and my own life. How limiting is fear? The world is limitless, possibilities are limitless, and yet in our fragile little minds we put up these barriers and create our own imaginary limits. Using words like can’t and won’t the limitless boundaries of the world become smaller and smaller until we end up with just a little sphere of possibility around us.
And yet none of it, absolutely none of it, is actually real.
I had this moment where I could see clearly back through my own life and I could physically see the barriers I had put up over the years. Imagine when the sun sends its rays towards earth, and suddenly it encounters the moon coming between the two celestial objects, and the rays are stopped in their tracks, momentarily blocked from reaching earth’s grasp. That was what I had been doing to myself – putting up a permanent and completely deliberate eclipse, blocking myself from my own potential.
Like when I so desperately wanted to be liked by other people that I put myself into situations I was totally uncomfortable with. I so desperately wanted to be liked by myself that I tried to be someone I wasn’t. I stuck it out at jobs that I found unsatisfying and draining because, you know, it was safe. I wore clothes I didn’t like because they were trendy. And I told myself that this was how it was supposed to be. There must be something wrong with me if I don’t genuinely like these clothes? This job? This life path? Isn’t this what we’re all supposed to do?
I am so grateful to be liberated from those ideas! Why oh why did I ever want to be like everyone else, when all that time I could have just been me?
So what is growth? Of course we can talk in the physical sense. We move from being a baby, to a toddler to a child. Our bodies become larger, taller, wildly different. Sometimes we don’t even recognise our physical selves when we look in the mirror.
But in this context, it’s not the physical sense that I’m contemplating. Although of course, sometimes the physical is very much intertwined… The growth that I’m speaking of is the inner body, the one you don’t see.
It’s the growth that comes with wisdom. The wisdom of going through experiences and being able to see the meaning underneath them all. Like having a bad break up and gaining the wisdom not to repeat those same mistakes or be attracted to same type of person. Like leaving your home country and seeing the beauty in other countries and cultures and realising that just because yours is the one you were raised in, doesn’t make it better than others. Like understanding that sometimes you just have to stand back and let things happen, exactly as they are supposed to, without your interference.
It’s growth on an intellectual and spiritual plane. Understanding that there is more to life than just the place you are in, the body you are in, the circle of people you have around you and the daily routine you embed yourself in.
Because all of those things are just eclipses on your life. If you only ever see the same people, do the same things, drive down the same roads, it is limiting the limitless!
Growth is also understanding that we know very, very little. If you walk around all day believing you know everything, then how will you ever learn anything new? You can’t put any more water into an already full cup! The more I grow, the more I empty my cup. Because I have also realised that the cup is bottomless and by only allowing it to be a certain size then I’m still limiting myself.
In realising how little I know, it has helped me to lower my defences. You only get offended if someone challenges your beliefs and makes you wonder if maybe you don’t know as much about your beliefs as you thought you did… So why not just be open to the challenge? Be curious like a child, there is always so much more to learn. Even the most devotional of monks who have spent 50 years studying texts and scriptures and meditating say that they know nothing – His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama himself has said this.
Growth comes from emptying the cup and being open to everything. Allowing the sun’s rays to beam to you freely and as they choose to.
Fear, as I’ve mentioned, is the biggest eclipse. But you know, so is ignorance. Ignorance places rules on how, when and why the sun’s rays should come to you in the first place. And then believing that everyone else’s rays should have the same rules as your own.
Maybe this comes from fear as well, fear of being wrong or looking silly or of things being different.
But what if we all just got rid of our own personal eclipses? What if we just let the light shine? What if you let yourself stand in the warmth and the light and felt that freedom of unrestrained living?
Growth is being afraid and still moving forward. Not shying away from opportunities. Having the courage to live in the way that is true to you, taking on board every challenge and hurdle that you come across along the way and being grateful for them as the learning experiences that they are. Letting go of the baggage that you cling to in desperate self-image and allowing life to come at you with a fresh canvas.
I’m grateful that I finally see how I let this affect me throughout my life. I’m grateful that I can look back and see how I needed those experiences to bring myself to this point.
Who am I to stand in my own way? Who are YOU to stand in your own way?
My beautiful friend and teacher sent me a quote.
“There is a vitality, a life force that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.”
Growth is knowing this to be true.
I must also say, I am also intensely grateful to India. This country that I was so afraid of, and yet has shown me more light than any other. I have grown being here, it has become so special to my heart, and I know I will be back many more times to come.
With love and the shining light,