"The ONLY purpose is being alive, is to be alive. There is nothing more. We do not need to seek specialness, we are no better or worse than others. Spiritual teachers are only people who have found a channel of truth that works for them at that moment in time. They are not the panacea for the answers. The answers that we seek are within us. Within our ordinary moments of life. Of seeing life for what it is."
Maybe I’m just ordinary. I’m not destined for any great achievement. I’m not going to change the world just by being in it and I’m not going to be remembered long after I’m gone.
Maybe I’m just another of the seven billion souls inhabiting this planet just doing their very best to be who they are, without any expectations of being more than what I am.
Maybe I’m just a mother. Maybe I’m just a teacher. And maybe I’m just poor and destined to struggle my way through life; I’m not the only one. Maybe I’m just ordinary. Maybe I’m just like everyone else.
When I was younger I had low self-esteem, at 58kg, I thought that I was fat and so hid myself from everyone. I wore baggy clothes. I hid from the world. I strived for invisibility. Then, I discovered Louise L. Hay who taught me that there was so much more to me, to everyone, her words and affirmations lifted me up, built my confidence, made me believe that I could do anything, that I could be anyone, have success if I just changed my thinking.
But what if she was wrong? What if the whole “new age” movement is really just another way to make money, to sell products, to sell ideas, to make people feel like shit and so that they need something to pick themselves up? What if it’s all just bullshit? These expectations that we place on ourselves are nothing more than setting ourselves up to feel like we are missing something.
Expectations create a false reality. They are like a “glamour” that we use to feel good about ourselves when in reality, we feel like shit, but we feel like we have to appear like we are having an easy time. Because if we admit that we feel like crap, there must be something wrong with us, but there's not. We are who we are.
Throughout my life, I have struggled financially to feed myself, my family and I have thought that my teaching career was just a stepping stone to something more magnificent. But what if this is it? What if this is my lot in life to just exist from week to week while I raise my girls in a job that brings me happiness and satisfaction as much as it brings me frustration and annoyance?
Maybe I’m not destined for anything more than to be here, now, living this existence.
I’ve had some amazing moments in my life where I’ve believed all these amazing spiritual things, but what if they too are bullshit? Just like yoga has become to me. What if instead of bringing me joy, the spirituality movement has turned into a search for deeper meaning, for purpose and for seeking something which simply doesn’t exist? What if nirvana is just a load of spiritual B.S. designed to make us think that we are on this “journey” to enlightenment, yet in our seeking we forget that in-fact we are just ordinary beings living life; for the only purpose of living life?
I am so sick of spiritual teachers (myself included in previous posts) telling people to “find their purpose”. There is no such thing! It’s another hook that drags us in, making us feel like we are somehow inadequate and special for having not found that thing we have supposedly been birthed for?
What BULLSHIT! The ONLY purpose is being alive, is to be alive. There is nothing more. We do not need to seek specialness, we are no better or worse than others. Spiritual teachers are only people who have found a channel of truth that works for them at that moment in time. They are not the panacea for the answers. The answers that we seek are within us. Within our ordinary moments of life. Of seeing life for what it is.
Maybe I’m just ordinary. Maybe all I’m meant to be is a teacher. Maybe all I’m meant to be is a mother. Maybe I’m just ordinary and will never be anything more than a struggling single mum.
Well, that’s okay. Because all I need to know is that right here, right now, I can feel my breath in my lungs, I can hear the birds settling in for the night, I know that my children are all safe and well and I know that I live in a country that is free from war. And if that is ordinary; being grateful for the here and now, well, I’d choose ordinary over “special” in this moment and every moment to come.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2017
It’s a challenge for me to write this blog because it may step on people’s toes, it could be controversial and it could offend. But it’s my truth. Here. Today. Modern yoga is like a cult.
It’s weird, you know, not being involved in yoga anymore, not believing all that I used to believe and it’s like all that I was is being stripped away. All that I thought I was no longer exists. I am no longer someone who says “namaste”, who wears an Om necklace in a form of cultural appropriation or is devoted to a yoga practice. I do it when I feel like I need a good stretch. A friend who I was doing my yoga teacher training with said: “Everything has its own time. Only when you are ready, it works.” And implied that it wasn’t time for me to be a yoga teacher. I thought, this is not about me not being ready for a life of yoga, because I’ve been doing it for 20 years, this is about me realising the giant lie it has become and how we aren’t a match anymore.
Modern yoga to me is a bit like a cult or a religion; if you don’t fit in, if you don’t comply with the expected behaviours then you’re not a part of the cult. The word “Yoga” means union and there is NOTHING I can see that unites in separating or elevating yourself above someone because they won’t comply with the predominant culture. I was under a delusion. It is not authentic to take on someone else’s beliefs, or even a whole cultural group. It’s subtle and it’s in no way malicious, it is a culture built on egos, the right leggings and clothes, accessories, Instagram bendiness and acrobatic bodies. That’s not what my experience of yoga is about!
Historically, modern yoga has its roots in the arrival of the British in India in the early 1900s who merged the military fitness regime of the British with the gentler Hindu spiritual practices. It has become all about the asana, pranayama and escaping from modern life. It doesn’t resonate for me anymore and I am sad about that, because it has given me an enormous amount of joy over the years, however, it doesn’t align with my truth anymore. I will view it as a form of experiential exercise, but to get caught up in the culture within modern yoga was destructive for me and misses the whole point of a spiritual practice.
Our spirituality does not depend on whether we practice in ugg boots, woollen socks, braless, hair dishevelled, interrupted, naked or with your favourite music on. Our spirituality does not depend on us listening to traditional and modern Hindu chanting or whether we can stretch into our out of a certain position like the person next to us. Our spirituality does not need us to travel to India or Bali or any other exotic location to be able to access it. And we certainly don't need to be doing headstands or handstands to be spiritual.
We are spiritual. Right here. Right now. We keep seeking these experiences and tools, such as yoga, in order to find this place of peace or contentment when the reality is, when we stop the search, we can see it. We can see the truth of the world when we begin to question everything. The latest search for enlightenment, 5th dimension and higher realms is just another escapism from being here now. It is a distraction from the human experience and from the present moment.
Yes, yoga, when taught well, can be a tool to do this, it can teach us how to be in the present moment, but for now I am disillusioned by it. I don’t know if I’ll ever return to a yoga practice, and that’s sad. And what’s even more sad, it is that now very unlikely that I will complete my yoga teacher training because I just can’t agree with a culture that encourages ego and competition. It is an extension of the commodification of everything good and pure in the world.
The truth about yoga is that it doesn’t matter what colour you wear, music you listen to, or if you have shoes on or not, the timing of your breaths, intentions, how flexible or strong you are, it is time to look after your body and honour it as the temple that houses your soul. Yoga has all these expectations placed about it, when in reality it is just a form of exercise which asks us to be mindful. What you adorn your body with doesn’t make a skerrick of difference to your yoga practice and it certainly doesn’t make you a kind and compassionate person.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2017
In the movie Chocolat, the protagonist Vianne is moved from town to town by the call of the wind...I am her...Some part of me wants permanence and stability but when I get it, I get BORED ...I get restless.
Some people are addicted to drugs, food, alcohol, sex or increasingly social media. The addiction brings about connection and a feeling of being alive when the dullness of life makes us feel numb. Humans want to feel and when we can’t feel we seek out stimulation to make us feel alive again. But I can’t claim any addiction to the above, but I do seek out variety, you could say I have an addiction of sorts to it.
To me I am constantly thinking about where to next? New house? New car? New suburb? New city? New adventure? New friends? New relationship? This need for variety even extends to my daily routines such as a new route in a bushwalk or different route to work…I get bored easily.
New, new, new…
What drives this constant driving for newness, for variety and why do I seek the feeling of being alive in newness. Has the variety been about running away; from my family, men, from being “normal”, of the familiar? Or is it simply how I am?
In 2015, I went to the Ignite Leadership Seminar led by the charismatic Brett Jones. He highlighted things that a person needs but it was divided into the Ego needs and Leader needs:
Certainty – control
Contribution – how may I serve?
He went onto say that each one of us is driven by one of these needs, particularly in the ego list. What do you need? Look through the list yourself. What drives your life? Are you coming from a place of leadership or ego?
I was surprised to find that in the ego section, that it wasn’t connection that I craved, but variety.
In the movie Chocolat, the protagonist Vianne is moved from town to town by the call of the wind until she finally finds a place to put her roots down. I am her; the woman who goes with the wind. Some part of me wants permanence and stability but when I get it, I get BORED and I think about how many other places and people there are to meet. Some people find comfort in routine, but I get restless.
Having teenage daughters have forced me to give them stability because it’s what they need at this time – a stable home, a stable mum, but always within me I’m seeking the next adventure, the next home, the next moment, do I run away from things that are too hard? Or do I seek variety? Or should I just sit in my boredom and observe what is?
According to Brett, it’s my ego, trying to validate itself yet I would argue (or is that my ego arguing?) that I feel like life is so short, that I need to make the most of it and have the full range of the human experience. The human experience can be ecstatic, so incredible and transformational but it also can feel heavy, dull, repetitive and without challenge. I’m not planning to come back for another life here after this is done.
I was speaking to a girlfriend yesterday and she observed that I was again looking to move house (only after a couple of months) and noticed that I’m always seeking outwards and not drawing in. I am not seeking the stillness within or loving and trusting where I am, right now. And she’s right, I need to trust that this is where I am and that everything is perfect. In variety, I get outwards movement, yet nothing within me changes.
Life is not about what we achieve, but how we grow as beings of love. I can’t say that I’m totally cured of my need for variety, but I am aware of it when it comes up now and need to make sure my decision making is not a result of a desire to run, but of a deep desire for growth within me. And maybe, just maybe, my next stage of growth will come as a result of putting down my roots and doing the opposite of what my ego tells me to do.
What drives you? Are you willing to do the deep reflection to find out? For more information about Brett's work and Ignite Leadership seminars click here.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2016
"Unlike previous dates he didn’t turn me off with sexual desperation. He had a presence that I felt calm in. It was like he could see me; the real me, the vulnerable me, the me that put up wall after wall to block his expressions of love that he patiently waited for me to take down."
Single? I’m going to give you some advice, you don’t have to take it, but if I had this advice years ago, my life would have been very different.
I’ve pretty much been single most of my adult life. I’m now 42 and I am in the first stable relationship I’ve ever had.
Previously, I’ve mostly been attracted to men who make my heart race. Who I feel an instant bond with and he feels the same. What then happens is; I pour out my heart and he runs for the hills. For whatever reason, I’ve attracted one-sided relationships where I like him much more than he likes me.
The last one, who I have nicknamed GSM (Gorgeous, sexy man), on previous blogs even said that he saw a great future for us together, felt a very strong attraction and said that it was this connection that made him pull away. It has taken two years, but I’m finally coming to some acceptance that despite this amazing connection, perhaps the universe was giving me a gift, perhaps there was someone better suited to me.
So, I joined online dating and went out with a few men. Mostly they wanted casual sex and as fascinating and temporary as that is, I declined, I’m more than a magnificent vagina and wanted to find someone who could see that and wasn’t afraid to meet me where I am.
Then I met KM (Kind man). I wasn’t instantly attracted to him, but I was interested. He was interesting, deep and aroused my curiosity in a way that I wanted to know more. Like a good blurb on a book, I wanted to open the book to see what was inside. So we went on a few dates, he spoiled me, brought flowers, opened doors and showed genuine care for me. Unlike previous dates he didn’t turn me off with sexual desperation. He had a presence that I felt calm in. It was like he could see me; the real me, the vulnerable me, the me that put up wall after wall to block his expressions of love that he patiently waited for me to take down.
If someone had said to me years ago to not go for the massive charge of electricity, but go for the one who makes you feel like the most important person in the world I wouldn’t have listened, but sometimes you need to experience these things for yourself. We see the instant chemistry on television and think that that is love, but for me, what the instant chemistry has provided massive and painful soul growth. With KM, I feel myself growing, but it’s not painful. His patience is helping me to open up like a flower in the safe space that he creates.
I find myself in this new space of my heart opening up to the possibilities of what may be.
So my advice for you is this: give that “nice” guy a chance. If he has a great relationship with his mum, his sisters or daughters, you’re probably onto a winner because he knows how a woman deserves to be treated. I met KM who treats me wonderfully when I stopped accepting less than I deserve. We’ve created a relationship that is; loving, kind and generous and every day I am so grateful for what it is. He tells me and shows me in his actions that I deserve the best.
I certainly didn’t expect this, and I certainly didn’t expect the chemistry to grow so quickly as a result of my gratitude for his calm, gentle presence and kindness. He surprises me every day with his love and kindness and his ability to say just the right things at the right time.
I don’t know where this relationship is going, but he is allowing me the space to open my scared and vulnerable heart to open up in my own time. Even if it lasts another month, year, a decade or the rest of my life, I am taking it one day at a time and living in the bliss of the moment without expectations of what it might be.
Date that nice guy, I promise, he will be so worth it and so are you.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2016
This article also featured on @ElephantJournal