Don't worry Southern Baptist family of mine, I haven't gone Satanic on you. Far from it. However, I do want to take a moment (in honor of my favorite spooky season) to acknowledge our slightly darker sides/ inner demons. Undoubtedly demons can be defined as evil spirits but in this case, they represent those not so pleasant human emotions that we all experience from time to time. The usual suspects being our fears, worries, doubts, insecurities, etc. You get the idea.
While I do pride myself on being a generally positive and happy person, I value authenticity even more. To me that means being open not only about the comfortable feel good stuff, but also about the darker, not so happy stuff as well. In fact, my favorite friends are the ones who not only celebrate with me when times are good, but who are genuinely interested in hearing about things when times are tough as well. Real talk. Not partial stories only highlighting the goodness and giving the impression that life is always as peachy as it looks on Facebook.
It's true, there is so much power behind positive thinking. You can always choose to turn a negative situation around mentally, but not without first acknowledging that the negative situation exists. So, In order for a positive outlook to play a big role in my world, I have to say hello to my demons from time to time. Those fears and insecurities that arise actually make me feel more human and more alive therefore allowing me to approach my relationships with others (students, clients, friends, teachers, family) with so much more compassion and unconditional love. They keep me in check.
While I do believe that focussing on the good stuff is very important, I also think it's healthy to accept that there are two sides to every coin. I'm not implying we should take on the role of a victim and walk around complaining about life and posting about what a crappy day we've had ALL THE TIME. I'm just suggesting that we simply acknowledge both sides.
We all go through things: job loss, break-ups, illnesses, self-doubt, depression, insecurities, the loss of a loved one or a pet. Our demons show up as different things during different times in our lives, and they always will. If we acknowledge them and work through them rather than pretend that they don't exist, we begin to realize that nothing is permanent. Not even our demons. The struggle, tension, pain and sorrows we experience as humans play such a pivotal roll in allowing us to truly appreciate when love, joy and inspiration are abundant! One side cannot exist without the other and nothing is constant except for change. Staying grounded so that we can flow through both is crucial.
Through my yoga practice, I'm learning to accept both sides of myself. Rolling out my mat, my laboratory, and moving and breathing through those stuck spots (mentally and physically) helps me to create a safe space where I can explore both sides of me without judgment or guilt. It shows me that nothing is consistent (not even my practice!) but that I can move through those inconsistencies, discomforts and circumstances without attaching to them. It teaches me to be truly present through the good, the bad, and everything in between.
SO, back to our demons. When we allow them to ride shotgun sometimes, it simply means that we are in the driver's seat. We can choose to acknowledge those fears, doubts and worries without feeding them or giving in to them. We are HUMAN and these feelings and circumstances will inevitably arise, so let them. But trust that life will ebb and flow, and the good stuff will return as well.
This festive fall, give it a try. Say hello to your demons in the passenger seat, but know that you are strong and capable of having those inner struggles without allowing them to take control. In fact, maybe even send a little gratitude to your past, present, and future demons and their darkness. I'm grateful for mine because without them, I wouldn't truly know my light. Happy Halloween from my demons to yours!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, Mary has called Los Angeles home since 2010. She is a licensed massage therapist, as well as a registered yoga instructor with 300+ hours of training. She's the co-founder/owner of YogaFam, which hosts family oriented yoga adventures around Southern California and beyond. Mary can be found teaching yoga in studios or privately all over the west-side of LA, soaking up some California sun on a hike or at the beach, or tackling a taco tuesday.