This may quite possibly be my most important post yet.
I'll tell you why: I think it very well may apply to literally every single human being on the face of the earth.
Everyone seeks to BELONG. Everyone needs to connect.
But to who? And to what? And how?
And when we feel as though we don't belong, how to do we deal with those feelings of loneliness or the perception of being on the outside? The recently minted experience of "FOMO" (or rather, fear of missing out) touches on this idea. But I'm not talking about being excluded from a single social event or experience (although being "left out" socially can, indeed, have larger personal implications); I'm talking about a broader, more generalized sense of belonging. I'm talking about the intrinsic human NEED to be embraced and accepted by other like-minded beings. After all, no (wo)man is an island. And try as we may, no soul is truly solitary.
Still, the concept that "we are all connected" can be hard to grasp when you literally feel as though you do not "fit in."
If you're lucky, as I am, you’ll have someone or something to reach out to, to call home. I have both. First, my beloved best friend and husband who is nothing like me, yet accepts me entirely and second, my spiritual practice: yoga.
These are the things to which I, personally, belong.
And yet, I’m also a human being who, despite my many valiant efforts to remain detached, is undeniably affected by my environment. If I were, in fact, immune to the human desire for acceptance, I wouldn't be bleeding out from my fingertips and onto the page this very moment.
So how do I, personally, deal with these feelings? When I refuse to hit the mat, when I turn away from the love of my loved ones, when I rage against all the self-help bullshit swirling in my mind?
Well, I window shop. I look at shiny new shoes and sparkly jewelry and sweaters and bags, falsely believing that maybe if I have this or that, I will magically FEEL BETTER.
Fortunately, after much experimentation, I know without question that...
NOTHING I CAN BUY WILL FILL THIS ACHING NEED TO BELONG.
The truth is, all that can ever really satiate the starving soul is found INSIDE of oneself. And it is up to us to learn to tap into those inner gems that live in the deepest recesses of our hearts. As one of my long-time spirit guides, Ana Forrest, recently instructed during a weekend yoga workshop, we must learn to "sparkle up" from the inside.
We must stop accumulating STUFF and start building SPIRIT. Because, if you haven’t already discovered this for yourself, you can have all the belongings in the world, but they aren't going to help you BELONG anymore than you already do.
Sometimes the ownership of things is really just a temporary salve on the wound of disconnection. And before you know it, it's time to buy something newer, more shiny, more in line with the times.
On the flip side, I'm all for using the gifts of this material world as a means of self expression. Go ahead and Express Yourself, as Madonna famously sung, if that’s what fashion is for you. The world renowned and seemingly gravity-defying yoga instructor Kathryn Budig often instagrams her outfits with the hashtags #fashionjunkie and #nostretchypants, and it’s quite obvious that her fascination with fashion is purely that: a love of style and creative communication. If there is one leader out there in the wellness community who epitomizes what I believe to be “a spiritual girl in a material world,” I’d say it’s Kathryn. She is playful and genuine, and truly appears to be fearless (#loveoverfear is another of her favorites). An avid sky-diver, she does not seem to feel the need to fit in to any one place or time. I can all but assume that her fearlessness in the face of free-fall comes from a deep inner knowing that she BELONGS anywhere, anytime.
As if it wasn't already obvious, I love my collection of new and old soles, but they are merely earthly examples of my aesthetic preferences rather than products pasted on to advertise my worth — which, of course, is invaluable and does not have a price tag. And as my beautiful daughter begins to show signs of having inherited her mother's love of shoes, I must remind her that they are but objects of affection and no more secure for us a sense of acceptance in the world than eating a piece of toast does (even the gluten free kind).
After all, it's what glows on the inside and not the outside that ultimately guides us all to where we each belong.
The poet/philosopher David Whyte said:
Your first step? It is simple: Breathe for YOU.