Howl for me, Wolf-Woman!
I am a yoga teacher for a living, and a mother and wife. I have supportive friends, a close family, and a hands on husband. He is amazing. Although my children are still very young (I am still breastfeeding), I am able to find pockets of time to teach and to dive into my personal development – thankfully and gratefully.
This past weekend I went on a yoga retreat hosted by a beautiful teacher. There was a tremendous amount of love and support, however, I found myself at times not feeling like I was “good enough” to be there. It was a little disturbing. I hadn’t realized my self-worth was so low. I consider myself as insecure as the average person, but this past weekend, it was rather profound. There were several times where I had to touch the ground to remind myself that I was there, and that I was allowed to be there.
I want to go deeper into this and reveal its roots, so that I can heal, but I’m a little scared and not sure how or where to dive in. I want to find my authentic voice and confidence. Your advice is appreciated. Blessings and love to you.
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I hear you, my love. Precisely when we think our dreams have reached fruition and we have finally arrived at some beauteous plateau in our healing, we come face to face with our deepest, scarred-over wounds. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali warns “when the obstacles appear to be absent, it is time to be vigilant.” In my experience, this has been true in the sense that I can be joyous and revel in the good whilst simultaneously understanding that life is cyclical and this too, even the loveliness, shall pass. All of that said, the first medicine I have for you is this: There is a difference between feeling unworthy and feeling we do not belong where we are. It was an important growth point for me when I realized that there could be majestic environments, fulfilling relationships, and adventurous, lived experiences that were fine-and-dandy for others but simply not for me. This did not mean I thought myself less-than, not ready, or otherwise inferior; it simply meant “not mine. Not now.”
The nature of felt self-worth is complex and, I believe, is tied to our truest currencies. I, for example, hold my right to solitude as sacred. My time alone is genuinely one of my most precious resources, and, when I have a limited supply and regardless of how content and abundant I am in other areas of my life, I feel weak, powerless, and, in a sense, lacking. Know that it is difficult to pinpoint your truest currencies in a society that tells us to value primarily money and individualized power. We live in a time-impoverished land, my love, and those with a wealth of time are viewed as lazy and non-productive while those with bank accounts full of what amounts to only stored energy are framed as socially superior.
As a yoga teacher myself, I resonate with your story. When I was twenty-four I studied with someone who is one of the more well-known American “masters” in a teacher-training context. Expectations were very high, and the teacher expressed often that many of us did not deserve to be there with her. My youthful hard-body – another resource I was taught I should value when, in actuality, it meant very little to me – allowed me to keep up with the 70+ yogis in the room in terms of asana, but when it came time for meditation and deep discussion of yogic philosophy, I suffered. I had not come to a point in my practice where I valued stillness and study, and I felt very much undeserving of the experience and wisdom in which I had chosen to immerse myself, draining my bank account in the process. I left the experience feeling motivated, however, and I will say my practice shifted after that week in that I began exploring the elements I sensed were missing from my practice more intently. I did not realize stillness, meditation, and philosophical study were absent from my lived experience of yoga until I was shown their value and, for years, I still felt very much as if I was playing catch-up; I was increasingly valuing aspects of my practice that I was still lacking, and I had to let that lack fuel my fire rather than dampen my spirits.
I urge you to examine what you most authentically value versus what you may have believed you valued with respect to the retreat, then ask yourself if your feeling of unworthiness stemmed from a gap between those two categories. For instance, perhaps you truly value freedom as evidenced by a love for travel and adventure, but the retreat was highly disciplined; in this case, you might feel a sense of lack because you do not value rigid schedules and forced routines though these things were presented to you as valuable. Alternatively, perhaps the retreat demonstrated to you that discipline could play a greater part in your practice, then you might use the gap between how much discipline you currently have and how much you desire as a motivator to shift your perspective.
Yoga, by nature, is a process of self-transformation. Women are shape-shifters, and our yoga practice should not only be in constant flux but also never mirror another person’s journey. As a yoga teacher yourself, you know that Westerners tend to forget that yoga is a cultural transplant, a practice that was not born out of a Western, individualized values system, and this has created countless ethical quandaries. Your yoga practice, and by extension your teaching practice, must reflect your most authentic currencies as you know them to be at the moment, trusting that they can and will evolve.
Happiness and felt self-worth means having an abundance of what we truly value, with these values rarely the socially heralded currencies of money and power. In Western yoga culture, we are often taught to value the strong, lean, flexible body alongside fierce discipline; students may mindlessly mutter “Namaste” at the end of practice without irony despite a total undervaluation of experienced divinity within the class environment. In truth, your yoga should embody your values – yours, not anyone else’s- because your practice is a personal communion with the cosmic infinite.
Reflect on your experience, examine the situations when you felt a sense of lack in terms of the resources you hold most dear. Ask yourself what lies under the feeling, then what lies under that feeling, and under that feeling. Dig under the sense of unrest and unworthiness until you strike truth.
You deserve it all, my love, and I am howling for you.
All blessings be,
Recommended reading: The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist.
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Woman Most Wild (New World Library, 2017)
In Woman Most Wild, author and proud witch Danielle Dulsky debunks the stories we have been indoctrinated with and reveals the true nature of witchcraft: an ancient spiritual path that rejects religious dogma in favor of female empowerment and a reverence for the Earth.
In a collaborative, conversational tone, Woman Most Wild offers three keys to liberating your inner witch and owning your power.
➵ Submit your howl to firstname.lastname@example.org.
➵ Find our guidelines for submission to the Wolf-Woman here.
Read more Howl for Me, Wolf-Woman!:
The Soul Curriculum & The Inherited Mother-Wound
The Spiral Dance of Selfhood, Judgement And Soulwork
Substance & The Visible Feminine: Selfie Culture & The Crone’s Perspective
The Wild Woman’s Body-Prayer For Rage Release
The Wild Woman’s Circle: Handcrafting Space For Sisterhood
The Hand-Crafted 2017: Wild Resolutions Before The Quickening
The Dark Feminine And The Maiden’s Loss
Winter Solstice & Yuletide Medicine For The Rootless Witch
Mothering The Wild & Becoming The Bad Daughter
A Ritual For Betrayal — When You Have No Choice But To Become Someone New
The Great Learning: Social Acceptance, A Challenge An Awakening Wild Woman Faces
Wild Wisdom For The Bleeding Woman
The Guru’s Crime Against Soul
Looking For Some Guiding Wild Wisdom
Deep Loving In The Darkness
Sip a little more from Danielle’s medicine:
➵ Witch, Howl Moonward:
The Timely Salve Of The Dark Primal Feminine
➵ The Wolf-Woman’s Book Of The Dead:
A Samhain Benediction
➵ Invoking Artemis: The Liberation Of Our Wild Spirituality