A couple of weeks ago, I wrote what became a very hotly-debated article about what it means to be of service. Funny how the writing that challenges us most personally seems to strike the strongest chord with others, because I can’t tell you how emotionally tinged that piece was for me (I almost didn’t publish it at all). 50 or so comments later, I see that apparently it pulled just as much at others’ hearts as did mine.
Sharing myself — my fears, my uncertainties, my triumphs and mistakes — in such a public way over the past year, has transformed my life in ways unimaginable. It was never my intention to be a writer/blogger, but I suppose the universe doesn’t much care for my grand plans for myself. I’m finally coming to accept that yes, I do have a voice– a very loud one, mind you– and while I’ve tried to quiet it down it for many years, it follows me around like a shadow I just can’t shake. I am a writer. I am a speaker. I am a communicator, a connector, a weaver of words, and if I am to make a difference in this world that’s without a doubt going to be a piece in the path.
I once believed that my words didn’t matter. Maybe I was told “keep your mouth shut, Chelsea” one too many times, but I– like many of you, I would imagine– had learned that my opinions should be kept to myself. I’d come to fear that if I spoke too loudly I might hurt or overshadow others, that if I grew too large in my skin my power would injure, maybe even annihilate those I loved. But as I’ve fallen into this new role, I’m realizing that words, in fact, do not have to be hollow or injurious to others. Quite the contrary, conscious communication can be a force for good.
When we start talking about the issues that have been swept under the rug — sexual exploitation in the yoga room, cult-like dynamics in our community, eating disorders masked as health, and just plain ol’ yogic-style narcissm — I believe we create an opportunity for shifts in perspective that lead to meaningful change. And the very act of speaking the truth is cathartic in and of itself.
So, I’ve made a (meta)commitment to myself, and now I’m making a commitment to you, to share my journey with the utmost transparency and honesty. I will allow my keyboard to become my tool for transformation, my words weapons for peace– both for myself and for the world at large. I will not mask my own pitfalls or hide away from the topics that our society often hides away. There’s enough of that in our world already. I’m making a commitment to truth– no matter how uncomfortable or controversial– and I invite you to join me.
This is my public commitment to radical honesty.
I see a lot of conversations online that drift into meaningless oblivion — articles become showers of should’s and writers (as well as yoga teachers) stray away from sharing their own experience in an effort to appear objective or avoid criticism. But in my opinion, our words (whether we’re teaching or writing) resonate most with others when we speak from our personal experience.
So in the coming months, I will share the messy, not-so-pretty stories of my own encounters with yoga, service, and life in general. And I’d like to invite you to do the same. Part of the reason I’ve chosen to write for Yoga Modern is that I believe it is a safe space for meaningful dialogue, a place where we can explore the questions our society (and the yoga community) often avoids without fear of violent repercussion.
This is my invitation to you.
Maybe you too have been afraid of your voice, afraid that if you said what’s really on your mind others might turn you away or devalue your words. Well, not here. Share your stories. Ask your questions. Together, our words can be the catalysts for a better world.