We were a few weeks into my Yoga Teacher Training, the whole lot of us shimmying around periodically on mats and blankets and bolsters in an effort to bring feeling back into our asses. It felt like the 10-hour long Saturdays, most of them spent sitting on the studio floor, were starting to wear my sit bones down to bloody stumps, but there was literally NOWHERE I would have rather been. I loved reading, listening and writing about this amazing, potentially 10,000 year old tradition. I loved deciphering the Upanishads and the Yoga Sutras. I loved bending my body into shapes I didn’t know existed and challenging it in ways I never would have thought to do so. Most of all, I loved experimenting with all of the exercises that forced me to experience the mind, body, breath connection ingrained within us all. Learning about the ways that our bodies hold our past experiences and how this energy gets trapped within us…I was hooked. It was this night, sitting in this cozy studio among my fellow seekers, fully engrossed in listening to my teacher, Scott Feinberg, that he said the three words that I have revisited time and time again since, that truly changed my life. “Own Your Bigness!”
I had spent the past 15 years or so struggling to find my place, dealing with divorced parents, a tragic accident at a young age, a move to Florida, several abusive relationships, a bumpy ride with recreational drugs, and then the transitions into adulthood as I got married, bought a home and had two children. I struggled with motherhood, constantly questioning my right to these two amazing souls who had come to me. I found myself quieter, more withdrawn and really fighting to maintain my self esteem. I battled with depression on and off, and only began to remedy it when I found yoga. For whatever reason, as I sat here this Saturday, these three words struck a nerve in me like nothing else ever had. My bigness? Shit, did I have any of that left? I know I used to have bigness. I used to own the crap out of it! Where did it go and was it really, as he was suggesting, possible to get it back just by owning it? How does one go about owning their bigness and if there’s a course on it…where the hell do I sign up?
I began to use these words as my mantra, repeating them to myself over and over and over again every single time I was faced with a challenge. “Own it, Jillian. Own your bigness. Nobody else is going to own it for you.” At first it felt a little fake and forced, but the more I said it, the more it grew inside of me. It continued to blossom through the rest of my training until it was REALLY put to the test the day I taught my first real yoga class. I must have said that phrase in my head 400 million times as I stood outside the studio door trying to catch my breath and not faint in front of my students. I thought for certain I would throw up or lose my words or die of embarrassment as I crossed the threshold and took my place at the front of the class. Go figure, I actually survived that day and have gone on to enjoy teaching. Can you believe it? I couldn’t even fathom it at the time.
So, why am I telling you all of this? Well, these three words started a new pattern in my head…a new way of thinking, which has led to a whole new way of life for me. These three words have allowed me to continue on my path and have moved me in the direction I’m pointed now, life coaching with others to teach them how to break down their own thought patterns and create something new and fresh and beautiful, beyond their past experiences. These three words have taught me that being our own biggest cheerleader is the most important and heartfelt gift we can give, not only to ourselves, but to those around us. When we can learn to allow ourselves to own our own bigness…no, not just allow…INSIST that we do it, we are offering our best self to those around us as well. Suddenly our limitations start to fall away as we connect to this powerhouse of energy, love, possibility and bravery within us. The coolest part is that we ALL have it. It’s not limited to the super rich or mega popular or the extremely good looking. It’s only limited to us if we allow it to be.
The best part about all of this for me? Well, I’ve gotten to pair up my love of inspiring this excitement and truth in others with my love for the mind, body, breath connection. Working with the Chakra system (the main energy centers in the body where we store emotions and experiences), I have been able to use a 12-week program written by my teacher, Amy Lombardo, to help my clients navigate the areas in their own lives where they may not be owning their bigness. I have watched transformation after beautiful transformation. I have witnessed intense releases of past hurts and that moment where something becomes fully clear within you. I have seen my clients grow beyond their own limitations and far exceed their own assumptions of what they were capable of. It has been beautiful, liberating, humbling and eye opening for me, and keeps me a student even as I progress on my path as a teacher. It seems that just at that moment where I’m starting to doubt my own bigness again, I watch something amazing happen and I am reminded of all that is possible when we believe in ourselves. If you had asked me once what I thought I would be doing for a living, I never could have foreseen this, and I couldn’t ask for more.
So teach the class, stand up and tell that idea you think is too stupid to share, apply for the job you want, take a leap of faith, ask him/her out on a date…and BELIEVE in yourself. Own your bigness, because nobody else can do it for you.
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