Tea with My”selves”

I drink tea every day. Sometimes I have a mid-morning, post-yoga coffee also, but always tea. It starts my day. My brand of choice is (surprisingly!) Yogi Tea. There are inspirational quotes or some other form of wise words on every tag. I keep many of these tags in a piece of pottery one of my daughters made at school. These tags may wind up on someone’s breakfast plate, in a lunchbox, on a pillow at night…or sometimes if I sense a need for shift in perspective I may ask one of my girls to close her eyes and pick one. As for me, depending on my mood, some days I read them and say “Thank you,” other days I say, “F#*% YOU!” Then there are days when these words bring me to stillness, a point of pause and reflection, much like what I strive for in my yoga practice.

Today’s tea tag read, “Self-reliance is the greatest art.” I’ve lived self-reliantly most of my life. This is a quality that has been a strength, not only as I’ve embraced it personally, but also as it’s been viewed by others. I’ve always thought that believing in oneself, being resourceful, carrying your own weight and not burdening others are good qualities. I still believe that, but age and experience have resulted in some humility on my part. Humility which has taught that sometimes self-reliance can mask pride, ego and stubbornness. As I continue to work on shifting my perspective, I paused to think about self-reliance more as an art, less as a strength.

This week I had the privilege to attend a discussion led by Edwin Bryant, a lead scholar in religions of India, with regard to the first chapter of Patanjali’s yoga sutras. When mind-chatter and emotional influence are quieted, stilled, removed, this is when we hear the voice of our “higher self.” Maybe what my cup of tea was telling me is that it is this “higher self” upon which I must ultimately rely, and learning how to tap into one’s own pure consciousness can take a lifetime (or many!)…indeed a great art.

While I continue on my path of enlightenment, my Yogi Tea takeaway for today is that I am also learning to recognize how heavy a load I can solely handle, and when to acquiesce to that higher self, the voice that may guide me to seek support when my two shoulders are simply not enough. There is an art here, too, of balancing that independent strength with the strength and confidence to surrender.

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