Spirituality and Stilettos

Graduation Day!

Today, Tuesday March 5th marks a very special day for me.

On this day – exactly three years ago – I graduated from Yoga Teacher Training at the Anand Prakash Ashram in Rishikesh, a small Hindu town in Northern India, known as the birth place of yoga.

Surrounded by my fellow students from around the globe, my teacher Vishva Ji, and a handful of famous swamis (aka: yoga rock stars), I was handed my teaching certificate and life as I knew it would change forever.

If you’ve read my story you’ll know that I left the corporate world of media in order to pursue a more “spiritual life”.  My belief was that I needed to completely leave my mainly self-induced chaotic environment in order to reconnect with my soul.

My intention in travelling to India was to learn the postures of yoga, “find myself”, come back to Canada and teach.  Which I did and still do (along with a whole lot more).

However, at the time I believed that a part of me needed to die in order to pursue this yogic lifestyle.  I believed that I needed to give up the part of me that was driven, ambitious and liked pretty things.  I gave away handbags, clothing and even changed the vehicle I drove in order to adopt what I thought was a more authentic life.

I became a self-righteous-Birkenstock-wearing-bendy-person who believed that happiness couldn’t possibly be found living in the rat race of the corporate or business world.

I was wrong.  I was oh-so-wrong. 

Being “Spiritual” does not mean giving up who you are.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

It’s about embracing who you are. 

Being “Spiritual” does not mean giving up wine night with the girls or refraining from buying a new pair of stilettos (or two).  It means embracing varying levels of friendships and the little pleasures that life has to offer, without being attached to them for your happiness.

Being “Spiritual” does not mean giving up the desire to succeed and become financially abundant.  It means understanding the fact that money is energy and can be used to invest in life changing experiences and create massive change on the planet.

Being “Spiritual” does not mean you need to give up your corporate or day job in order to volunteer in an African orphanage in the hopes of fulfilling your purpose (although, please feel free to do so).  It means being aware that your “purpose” could simply be to help others while making them smile and your corporate office may be the perfect place for that.

Being “Spiritual” does not mean you need to exclusively eat a vegetarian, vegan, raw, organic, gluten-free, quinoa-based diet. It means knowing what your body needs and choosing foods that nourish your soul (and after making love to a piece of carrot cake with cream cheese icing, my soul is pretty nourished).

Being “Spiritual” does not mean your travel plans are exclusively devoted to ashrams, backpacking in Peru or solo journeys in the vortex of Sedona. It means traveling to wherever you feel drawn to, whether that means chips, guacamole and margaritas at the Four Seasons in Mexico or booking a last minute travel deal to Vegas.

Being “Spiritual” does not mean living in constant and never ending state of happiness, sweetness and bliss (beware of people who are).  It means when you get angry, sad, overwhelmed or pissed off you simply try to understand where it’s coming from, learn, grow and move forward.

Being “Spiritual” does not mean your bookshelves need to be lined with Wayne Dyer,  Louise Hay and Deepak Chopra.  It means reading and absorbing anything that inspires you, even if that happens to be 50 Shades of Grey (yes, I’ve read it).

Being “Spiritual” does not mean revising your entire iPod playlist to only include Deva Premal, Tibetan Monk Chanting or birds chirping in the Amazon rain forest.  It means choosing music that speaks to your heart, regardless if it includes Rhianna, Madonna or Def Leppard (yes, I said Def Leppard).

Being “Spiritual” does not mean you need to meditate for hours a day or Ommmm your way out of chaos.  It means embracing the fact that life is in a constant state of flux and all that’s required is that you do your best to stay present in the moment.  And be grateful for that moment.

Being “Spiritual” does not mean being perfect.  It’s means acknowledging your dents, flaws and your shadow – embracing them all and/or having the courage to create the change needed to bring you closer to who you truly are – pure, sweet, Joy.

It took me a while to find the balance between the driven entrepreneur and the spiritual yogi – but I think I’ve found it.

I no longer need to feel like I’m letting either “side” of my Self down.  I no longer feel compelled to “switch personalities” depending on my external environment or who I’m with, but rather allow each intricate layer of myself to flow and merge into one whole Being.

I’ll repeat:  Being “spiritual” does not mean giving up who you are.

It’s about embracing all parts of who you are: The Dark, The Light, The Divine 

Today, I celebrate ME.

I embrace myself wholly and completely.  May you embrace yourself in the same way.

(for more on the many layers of “Me”, read my  I Am Manifesto)

Have you ever believed that being “Spiritual” meant giving up a part of you?

How do you embrace ALL parts of You?

I invite you to share your thoughts below.

16 Responses to Spirituality and Stilettos

  1. FANTASTIC!!! I completely agree with this. It is a process I’ve been going through for a while now and I love that I can embrace all sides of me.

  2. Happy Anniversary! Loved the post. It’s so true – spirituality is about uncovering who you truly are and embracing it all; the dark, light, colourful, sparkly… :)

  3. Love this. And yes, soooo true!

  4. Amen! Thank you for this re-affirming post! :)

  5. Todd Lohenry says:

    Jackie, your post is on par with the wisdom I have gleaned from Tara Brach’s “Radical Acceptance” and Kristin Neff’s “Self-Compassion”. Thanks for sharing this excellent insight; my only complaint as always is that you don’t do it more often… 😀

  6. Jessica Dalgliesh says:

    Enjoyed your insights and they are all so true. Spirituality for me is enjoying and learning from every moment and every experience we have. Good or bad. Whether its simply going for a walk, reading a book, spending time with people who love you. As well as meditation and yoga. It brings us to the place we are all looking for… the here and now and expressing gratitude for all we have

  7. Jennifer says:

    Exactly. I like to say I’ve had religious experiences and spiritual experiences. I’ve given up the religious ones in pursuit of the spiritual ones!

  8. Elena says:

    Beautiful! :) I’ve been re-discovering me, and learning that expressing me means art everywhere… :) Love it !! Thank you for reminding me even more to be me!

  9. kathy shaw says:

    Your best blog yet my friend. Thanks for keepin it real! Xo Kathy

  10. Alexis says:

    Absolutely amazing :) as I too am on this very path of creating balance and what an amazing journey it is as I continue to learn about me daily :) so thank you for this :)

  11. Sean de Lima says:

    Spirituality to me is walking my dog and sharing the joy he feels to be outside!

  12. Kathleen says:

    I came back to read this again today and will likely read it more then once throughout the day. I “complain” about people putting labels on me, but I put just as many restrictions on the definition of who I am, which doesn’t help with growth and passion. When I first met Jackie I knew she would teach me a lot when she said her Birkenstocks were next to her stilettos.
    How do I embrace all parts of me? By reading blogs like this that remind me that I am who I am because of all parts of me – it is what makes me unique and provides what I can offer the world.
    Much Love Miss Jackie!!

  13. riresouvent says:

    Beautifully written Jackie and a definite keeper for my files!

  14. Pingback: Find Your Balance | Susan Michelle Noland

  15. Mark Harman Powell says:

    You have found the ultimate power of expression, to provide inspiration to yourself and others.

  16. Laura says:

    So great. As a yoga teacher I have always said your Yoga can mean amazing sex, amazing food and beautiful things. It’s all about you. :). This is where my path led to the study of jyotish. Some people’s path is Artha or Kama. Your meant to be steeped in it :) xo

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