Happy Thursday, DDScottville Peeps!
I'm humbled and so full of gratitude to let you know that within the first 24 hours of the release of my first self-help spiritual book - I AM GOOD ENOUGH: One Non-Guru's Path to Spiritual Awakening (No Trip to India Required), the book soared to the Top 100 Bestselling Spiritual Books on Amazon (making it as high as #42) and was the #4 Bestselling Hot New Release in Spiritual Books.
Thank you to each and every one of you who's already bought your ebook copy. And thank you for all of your wonderful comments, messages and emails on what the book is meaning to you as you read through it. A special thank you to the super-sweet Carolyn Kenney who stayed up very-very late the night after it was released, read the book in its entirety and posted a fabulous 5-Star Review on Amazon the next morning.
I appreciate and love all of you, and I'm thrilled to share my path to spiritual awakening.
My first I-AGE (I Am Good Enough) crisis began when I was in Middle School. Sixth Grade to be exact. PE (Physical Education) Class to be even more exact. While I was being tormented by my teachers and their God-forsaken stopwatches.
Here's a Sneak Peek at the first few pages of Chapter One where I share my issue with stop watches and my love for yogis and cauliflower...
Stop Watches, Yogis, Happily-Ever-Afters and Cauliflower
“Make it a practice to associate with persons of creative talent, and to read books that will inspire and encourage you.”---Paramahansa Yogananda
Steve Jobs read one book every year, the only book he downloaded onto his iPad. It was the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, a guide to meditation and spirituality he’d first read as a teenager.
It also happened to be the book that my first issue of Yoga Journal Magazine recommended. So that’s where I began my journey. I started my path to spiritual awakening reading the life-changing work of Yogananda. Every step I’ve taken since, I’ve relied on his love and wisdom as guiding stars.
From the first chapter I read, I felt as if I were walking beside Yogananda, realizing early on that he would be one of my great teachers, perhaps my greatest.
Yogananda often talked about the disciple-guru relationship. In fact, page one of his autobiography begins with this very idea. He tells how he found his first great teacher (Lahiri Mahasaya of Benares) when he was still but a small boy in India.
Yogananda was fond of saying:
“When a student tunes in with the wisdom of a God-sent guru-preceptor, then by his efforts to follow the guru’s teaching, and by the inner guidance he receives from the guru, that student can find liberation. Those who are steadfast will ultimately be lifted into the kingdom of Cosmic Consciousness.”
The Autobiography of a Yogi is Yogananda’s (1893-1952) story of how he went from being a horribly sick boy on his death bed in India at the age of eight to one of the greatest yogis ever, the first yoga master of India to teach and live in the West. Beginning in the 1920s, he filled the largest halls in America. He founded a spiritual center in California (Self-Realization Fellowship), and his teachings still inspire our spiritual evolution here in the West as well as around the world.
So it was, while walking with Yogananda, first in the pages of his autobiography, written and published in 1946, followed by many of his other books (The Yoga of Jesus and Whispers from Eternity, two of my personal favorites) and via studying his Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons (which I receive in the mail every other week), I discovered the first spiritual bridge I needed to build and somehow get across.
So much for taking it easy. I stumbled my way to rough waters right out of the visitors’ center!
But so did Yogananda. Despite serious health issues, family tragedies, and the tests he faced in life, both small and large, he persevered until he figured out what his life purpose was and began living it. And he discovered these truths in the most unusual situations.
Yogananda helped me see that my spiritual evolution also began at a young age. I had an experience in my life at the tender age of eleven that I’ve had a difficult time getting out of my head and dreams. It was something that happened that kept replaying over and over again in my mind, as if there were an instant replay button my universal guardians and advisors kept pressing until the day I woke up and figured out what I was to learn from that moment in time.
My first I-AGE crisis began when I was in Middle School. Sixth Grade to be exact. PE (Physical Education) Class to be even more exact. While I was being tormented by my teachers and their God-forsaken stopwatches.
In order to pass PE, I had to run around our entire school grounds in seven minutes or less.
I was an eleven-year-old with allergies and asthma who was also overweight, not obese but definitely on the hefty side. One of the kids who needed that Husky label on their jeans (which has to be the absolute worst labeling idea ever, but I digress...)
Running anywhere for any length of time was difficult for me. I simply couldn’t breathe and run at the same time.
The more frustrated I got not being able to keep up with the other kids, the more difficult my breathing became until I’d often end up hyperventilating or throwing up. Need I forget the embarrassing tomato-red face and drenched hair and body I’d end up with after attempting this feat, which really stacked up nicely compared to the other kids who barely broke a sweat.
We practiced the seven-minute timed run at least once per week, and I failed miserably each and every time. That damn stopwatch and I were not on the same earthly plane, at all.
For years, I had nightmares about rounding the last corner of the building, the home stretch, and seeing one of my teachers, peering over the top of his glasses, glaring at me and then back at that awful watch, shaking his head, while the other teacher yelled so loud the entire neighborhood around the school could hear her screeching:
“C’mon Wagner, pick it up. You can do better than that. Move it!”
They’d given up on me, and made sure everyone knew that they had, making it even more difficult for me not to give up on myself.
To make it worse, and even more traumatizing, all of my classmates were chatting, giggling and whispering, lined up on the school lawn watching me huff and puff my way to the finish line.
One of my friends, who not by accident is still one of my best friends, and who is also a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu World Champion (5X Masters No-Gi Pans Champ and 4X Masters No-Gi World Champ), would always get up and run back to me, staying right with me, coaching me all the way to the finish line. (Thank you, Joel Blanton. I’ll never forget your kindness.)
Despite my sweet friend’s coaching, never once was I good enough to beat that damn stopwatch. The nightmares about this experience continued, fairly frequently, until after I started reading Yogananda’s book.
***Note: I did manage to eliminate the seven-minute run requirement. I was a student helper in the office, and one day I found the courage to talk to the principal about it, explaining in the most loving-kind way that my sixth grade self knew how to express that, with his weight, he probably couldn’t run that fast either. I ended up having to write extra papers on various sports to make up for failing the requirement, but I did pass PE with an ‘A’.
Yogananda taught me that on the path to spiritual awakening there are no stopwatches. He didn’t say those exact words, of course, at least not that I’ve read thus far, but the fact that his spiritual journey began when he was a young boy and continued his entire life, without a time schedule and without any pass or fail requirements, inspired me.
In fact, since I’ve awakened, I no longer keep track of time, at all. I don’t wear watches. And I seldom know what day of the week it is or what the date is. The only concepts of time that affect me now are the wonderful moments of repeater numbers—1:11, 11:11, 10:10, and so forth—that I always seem to catch when glancing at clocks and/or my phone, those divine moments when our spirit guides are sending us messages. (More on this later.)
The moments in Yogananda’s life where he learned the most weren’t marked by instruments of time. He achieved his greatest spiritual awakenings in the moments surrounded by the toughest lessons, the biggest disappointments and the greatest personal pain and hardships.
He learned to put faith only in his relationship with God and taught others that:
“the fact remains that a soul, however wrong in its outward, egoic behavior, is really a sleeping son of God.”
This idea really helped me forgive my PE teachers and all of the kids who laughed at me. Although, it took me to the age of forty-three to get there, I finally was able to let go of the pain they caused me and forgive each of them, realizing that if they were awakened and attuned to a loving-kind, God-conscious way of life, and not sleeping sons and daughters of God, they would never have acted in the ways they chose to at that moment in time.
We’ve all done things and will continue to do things that are not loving-kind, that are not acting within the realms of our Highest Self. This reminds me of a portion of Yogananda’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, which I’ve come to love: It goes like this:
“May we forgive those who offend us, ever mindful of our own need for Thine unmerited mercy.”
Isn’t that beautifully interpreted?
“...ever mindful of our own need for Thine unmerited mercy.”
I love that!
So that's my beef with stopwatches. In my next post, I'll fill you in on my love for yogis and cauliflower...
Hugs and Love and Namaste ---