embracing vulnerability

vulnerability is something i’ve always struggled with and found hard to embrace. it has always been such an ethereal idea to me. it’s a trait i envy, and possibly envision my life having, but never take the steps to actually making it a reality. probably because being vulnerable is just hard. lets be honest. being vulnerable means exposing your true self, not just your strengths but your weakness, and in fact mainly your weaknesses. weaknesses aren’t fun. they expose you to criticism, and possible judgement.  weaknesses don’t make you financially or worldly successful. weaknesses are flaws in the system that need to be covered or fixed.  i believe society and media today teaches and admonishes indirectly to focus on strengths and to cover up one’s weaknesses as a formula to “get ahead” and i think most of life has been spent following this formula/

weaknesses may not be glamorous, but they are human. and as one of these humans i am equally endowed with my share of weaknesses. embracing vulnerability does not mean i go out into the world with a sign listing these insecurities and flaws, but it does mean embracing them as a part of the whole of who i am today.

my parent’s will tell you firsthand, i have never been good at sharing my thoughts, emotions or feelings with anyone or anything. i am an introvert through and through and naturally gravitate towards solitude which i think is one of the reasons i’ve always struggled with opening the door of transparency in my life. i never had the natural urge to detail my life to other people, my success or my failures. i believe this fed my inability to be transparent with other people and with myself. however i am discovering in my yoga practice that vulnerability is key to balance, not just on the mat, but off as well.

yoga won’t hold your hand, or let you appear anyway that you are not. when you come to the mat you open yourself up to the practice, to the flow of what is happening in that very moment and you begin discovering aspects of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually that you may not have known before. i have always been pretty naturally athletic and fit to an extent, but when i came to yoga and gave it my resume it politely threw it out the door and gave me a blank page, and then it showed me how to become myself, and embrace that self with both its strengths, and weaknesses. you see yoga is all about balance. no, not just balancing poses, but balancing the present moment with absolute awareness and unity of who you are. the practice begins within. it begins with calming the breath, and steadying the mind. as you move through the physical realm of poses, you realize very quickly that if your inner balance is off, no matter how fit or strong you are, your outward balance will be off as well. this is essentially the heart of yoga. as you bend down into a pose, or reach high into a new stretch you feel your physical form burn and stretch, and you feel your internal self breath and focus and it is in this moment you discover the balance, the balance of who you are, of your strengths, and of your weaknesses.

i’m learning that if i want to achieve this balance on the mat i have to embrace who i am. through the physical bends, folds, and flows(what is called an “asana” practice) my weaknesses are exposed. i learn very quickly which hamstring is more flexible, which standing leg i have better balance on, and which pose challenges my core to the breaking point. through the discovery of these weaknesses i strive to control my breath and my inner awareness and in turn seek to strengthen these weaknesses. i also learn which poses i am strong at. maybe i can hold a tree pose on my right leg for a seemingly endless amount of time with my breath perfectly steady. all this, the strengths, the weaknesses, make up who i am in the moment. covering one part of them up is not being honest with myself about who i am and will always lead me away from the present. i cannot be something or someone that i am not in this very moment.

yoga is a practice. there is not an end goal. maybe you come to yoga to get better flexibility. but as the practice continues you learn that as you become more flexible you only begin to see how much further you can go. maybe you come to yoga to learn to calm the mind and relieve stress in the moment. but as you learn to steady the mind for one minute you now see that you can steady and control it for two minutes, then three. a practice is never ending for there is never a moment where you will be complete. yoga teaches us to embrace the incompleteness of ourselves, not in a way where we accept it and settle with it, but in a way that challenges us to continually progress forward.

for me, part of learning my incompleteness and deepening my practice is embracing more vulnerability in my life with myself, with amy, and with anyone i come into contact with. for as with yoga, life too, is a practice. i’m learning that deep authentic relationships are formed and built through openness, vulnerability and love and it is precisely these type of relationships and this type of life that i want to be a part of. thank you for allowing me to practice my vulnerability.

the light in me honors the light in you.

peace + love,

caleb.

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