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You’re So Vain…

(This post originally appeared on www.jenniferdwyer.ca)

Yes, you. I’m talking to you. The person reading this right now. You’re so vain.

Now before you go getting all mad at me, let me say this: I am too.

WE are so vain.

We spend so much of our time caught up in what other people think about us. What we look like, what we say, what we do, how we act, who we hang out with, where we go. It’s exhausting.

I just spent a week at The Menla Mountain Retreat in the Catskills of New York. It was the best week of my life and no, I wasn’t boozing and partying till the wee hours of the morning (been there, done that). I was at Baptiste Level Two Teacher Training.

My days were filled with meditation, yoga, teaching and dancing. No, that’s not a typo. I’m talking sober dancing. If I learned one thing there (I learned more, I promise) it’s that you really don’t need to have several drinks before hitting the dance floor.

A few friends of mine did their Level Two in May. When they got home, they were full of joy and continued to tell me that is was just so much fun (Yah, OK…sure)! I didn’t believe them for a second. I found Level One really tough physically, mentally and emotionally. Of course there were moments of joy and fun throughout that week, but a lot of tough moments where I felt like packing my bags and catching the first plane home.

With this in the back of my mind, I filled out my application for the training as I braced myself for what was sure to be a physically and emotionally draining week (and yes, I am fully aware that dragging the past into the present makes me a naughty yoga teacher). But before I left for training, something shifted. I let go of making the training this big daunting experience and opened myself up to the possibility of just experiencing it.

So what was so good about my week?

The realization that I’m all about looking good. I’m all about figuring out how to get people to see me as the “perfect” yoga teacher, the “perfect” daughter, the “perfect” girlfriend, the “perfect” writer, and it’s really exhausting. I didn’t realize how draining this way of living was. No matter how hard I tried to meet my expectations and impress other people, it was never good enough. There was always something else to do, somewhere else to be, and something else to accomplish.

Power Yoga Canada representing at Level Two

For me, Level Two was about dropping the walls and letting people see me for who I am in the moment, instead of who I think I need to be. I witnessed people share themselves so fully throughout the week and it inspired me to start living outside of my head. As I watched people teach, I could literally see the moment that they stopped thinking about looking good and just got real. That’s the moment that they connected to their students. Through their sharing, I saw just how trapped I was by my need to look good.

I had 100 fellow yogis supporting me throughout the week to drop my concern for looking good. To let go of the need to impress people. To stop trying so hard to be a good yoga teacher. The moment that I did, I started having fun. I mean – lots of fun. I mean, walls down, lid off, full expression kind of fun.

If I can bring one thing home from Level Two to share with you, it’s this. Life is so much more fun when you drop looking good. Am I suggesting you give up showering, doing your hair and taking care of yourself? No –don’t do that. I’m simply trying to share that we can spend our whole life trapped in our heads, trying to get things right and trying to get people to like us. All it does is keep us disconnected from the people and the world around us. Life is happening right now, get out of your head and experience it!

To Baron, the Level Two assisting team and my fellow participants, thank you for holding a space where, for the first time in my life, I felt free to just be.