Dealing with cross roads in life, listening to your heart, and the big Q "Who are you?"
By Milly Toovey
Born: 5 December 1989, 8:10am, North Adelaide. “You are stubborn. When you make a decision, no one will get in your way to persuade you to change it.” Said the Indian astrologer. Actually, I didn’t think I was stubborn. I’ve always been a people pleaser, I go with the flow and happy to do whatever anyone advises me to do. This is my weak point, putting trust in other people that what they say or do is always with good intentions. As I’ve recently learned, some people use that, for their own benefits. If you’re a good soul, an empath, chances are you’d often get caught in this predicament too. So how can you set your borders without losing your open mind and kindness? How can you learn to be diplomatically stubborn? During my last month in India, which was one of the best months of my entire life, I became a qualified yoga teacher, I learned a lot about life, and myself. For one entire month, each day went something like this:
5am, the wake-up bells ding (unless the donkeys or frequent trips to the loo don’t wake you up beforehand);
6:30am pranayama breathing class;
7:30am Hatha yoga;
9:30am, chanting, prayers and breakfast (in silence);
11am yoga philosophy;
12pm yoga anatomy;
1pm lunch (same room, same food, in silence); study and reflection time;
4:30 ashtanga yoga;
9pm lights out.
Not even school was this regimented and structured! This structure and the knowledge gained in each class certainly distracted me from the worries I left before my trip to India and I learned how to truly live in the now, to listen to my body and to acknowledge (but not hold onto) deep insights that flew into my mind. Now back in “reality”, I’ve moved back to my birth town in North Adelaide after living away for 6 years and now it’s time to put insights into action. However, as I write this, what I’m finding challenging more than anything is staying true to my nature and setting my boundaries so that people, advice, and situations don’t steer me away from the insights that came to me whilst I was in my purest form and (almost) highest state of consciousness. In order to keep these boundaries intact, one must be stubborn and being stubborn by nature is being decisive by nature. Stubborn people know what they want and can be blind and deaf to anything that attempts to steer their mind elsewhere. I used to think stubborn people should loosen up a little more, just accept things, let things in and go with the flow, but now I admire stubborn people who especially have an incredible ability to know themselves and take action based on what their heart tells them to. After experiencing big changes recently, I have become more stubborn, but only stubborn on situations that I feel so strongly about. When you go through turmoil and challenges in life and are able to overcome them, you definitely learn a lot about yourself! If I’m put in a situation that I can feel is putting a dampener on my spirit and energy, I’ll stand my ground, and act like a bull. I’m without a doubt sensitive more than ever and in tune with myself. Well, being in tune with yourself is an ongoing journey. Speaking of attunement, one of my highlights from India was learning Reiki, and with my first experience, I was able to completely unlock my sacral chakra, the invisible energy wheel that stores all your emotions. Through visualising beautiful white light pouring through my body and with the warmth and energy from my hands, my stomach gurgled and heated up like a ball of fire and my body literally jolted and twitched all over the place. Afterwards, I couldn’t stop crying, I felt incredibly nauseous and that evening had high fever, and I was vomiting and shaking uncontrollably and well, for days after that the toilet became my buddy. Believe it or not, these feelings are normal after “attunement” with Reiki, and once my temp was back to normal, it was wonderful as I genuinely felt like it was a massive cleansing of emotions! My head felt freer and the energy was flowing more naturally throughout my body making it easier for me to tune into my intuition and heart more, which now I realize it has helped me become more decisive and in return, more stubborn. Ok, I now understand the astrologer!
Imagine being given a story about your life attached with a manual the moment you’re born? Here are the planets and stars you’ve been dealt with, here’s what’s going to happen, here are the struggles and triumphs you’ll encounter. Off you go, good luck. Well, according to Indian astrology, this is actually the case, your life plan is already installed without you realizing it. What a crazy thought! But as we know, we hack and create our own life. However, hacking your life can backfire when you’re ignorant to the essence of life; not being true to yourself, nor listening to your heart. This is when bad decisions can be made which lead you down a wrong path and present you with a “lost in life”, confused, and often depressed state of mind, causing a mega downfall of negative emotions, making it incredibly difficult to leave the path and jump onto a new one. Besides, it takes a LOT of courage and bravery to completely detach yourself from a path that you know so well. It can be a totally terrifying thought, but the more you know yourself, and the more you can look at the positive outcomes then the ride becomes easier. Who are you? This is the number one question my teachers in India wanted us to solve. Did I solve it? Absolutely not. Am I closer than before? Absolutely. Self-discovery is a journey.
So, India called me a couple of months ago, I needed to escape and hop off the path I was on for a little while. It had been calling me for years but for some reason, I was waiting for “the right time”... some people will question that there is no such thing as “the right time”. But chances are, you’ve used the phrase “perfect timing” before, even if it’s something so small like arriving in time for the bus. You just feel inside and know that the timing is right. I believe that if you want something, it will happen, and it will come to you in one of two ways. You either a) take a risk, drop everything and do whatever it takes to get what you want “NOW”, and deal with the potential consequences later, for example, ordering an Uber to get to your destination quicker rather than waiting for the next bus; or you, b) put trust into the universe that it will happen and appear when the timing is right. For me deciding when to go to India was a combination of both. After the emotional rollercoaster, I had been on leading up to my trip to India, I reached a crossroad in my life path and I had 3 paths to consider.
1: The left path to the USA
If I took a left turn, I was going to move to the USA (from The Netherlands, where I lived for 5 years) with my husband, settle down and then go to India. But if I did this, what new experiences, thoughts and ideas would be planted in my head?
2: The right path to Australia
So I wondered about taking the right path and go back to Australia, reconnect with family and then go to India. But what advice and opinions would influence my thoughts?
3: The middle path to India
In the end, I felt that the middle path was drawing me to India. I decided to listen only to my heart, which is something still new for me and quite challenging to do.
How on earth do you listen to your heart? It pumps, it makes a subtle noise, but it doesn’t verbally tell you anything. “Listen to your heart”... what a vague concept. If only there was a little character sitting in there sending you messages. “Hello my dear heart is that you?... Oh, you’d like me to do this?... Is this so?... Why?... OH, I see... Yes, well I wouldn’t want to go down that path would I. Ok, thanks, heart, I’m on to it... Yes… I love you too.” When you reach the last page of a particular chapter in your life, you to start to think about the next one, and as a writer of your own life, you need to decide what the next chapter will be about. You may ask for advice from those close to you, those who were in that chapter with you, those who have experienced something similar, or even therapists (in my case it was all of the above). However eventually, advice can only take you so far and take you around in circles making you totally confused as to what to do! Whilst people only offer their advice with good intentions based on their knowledge and experience, it’s still almost impossible to get the spot on advice, as no one is living your life, other than you. So the best advice I received was the good ol’ “listen to you heart.” I have since realized that there are in fact some huge signs your heart is trying to tell you something. For example, a few weeks before I left for India I was panicking about what to do with my life, and a family member advised me to fly immediately to Australia to sort it out back home. I listened, and I agreed. However, that evening I experienced a whopping anxiety attack. My heart was beating SO incredibly fast and it was completely out of sync that it started to shut down the rest of my body as well almost making me feel paralyzed and unable to walk for about an hour. As I experienced an anxiety attack before, I knew what was going on, however this time, I was able to ignore the fear of my collapsing body and understand more what and why my body was trying to tell me. I took a bath, my nervous system balanced out and I realized that my heart was shouting “STOP, do not go back to Australia (yet).” It sent messages to my brain and listed all the reasons why I should not go so soon. Everything made sense. So, from this, I canceled out “the right path”. Time and time again, I was persuaded to take the left path to the USA, however instead of my heart over-reacting, it somehow remained still and it did not even send anything to my brain. So my brain felt numb as if it had no choice but to agree. But this made me feel so small and felt like someone else was controlling my heart and brain. I had nothing but numbness. I felt lost and my heart said: “nope, I don’t feel anything buddy, this isn’t good”. So that then lead to the middle path, going to India straight from The Netherlands, without any new influences, I left with a clean slate, completely detached to anything or anyone. Now, some people might say running away from problems doesn’t solve anything. However, when the problems are affecting who you are, then you always have a choice to move. It was “Milly time!” I made this decision myself and this was a jump knowing that it may very well change my life forever because of the new experiences and wisdom I would gain that would influence my next moves for the future. Because, we know that in every step we take, our life is open for change. It’s the butterfly effect. That sliding doors moment. So how did I feel about this jump? I actually couldn’t stop smiling at the thought of this idea. If I revert back to picturing a little character in my heart, it’s winking at the characters in my brain, and they did a little happy dance together. This was a feeling of contentment. Tick. I went off to India with a happy heart. When you start a new path with a happy heart, your mind is open, and you attract only the good. You will be fine, as long as you stay true to yourself, grab onto those whispers in life that lead you and make you feel joy, and pay attention to your heart and body. Now that I’m back living in my hometown, for the first time in 6 years, after living in Sydney, The Hague, San Francisco and (the last month) in Rishikesh, it’s up to me and only me to make sure I maintain my purity, speak up and travel this path that feels so good right now. It’s only been a couple of weeks, I’m still adjusting. I already miss India - the colours, the people, the structure, the living in the now and knowing the fact that everyone practices being a good human. The love, the spirit. The balance. The peace and harmony. Some people say that this isn’t real life, which is hugely disappointing because I believe it is, you can create happiness, balance, peace and love wherever you are in the world. You just need to seek it, make bold changes, and remove things that don’t serve you purpose or make you happy. And as my blissful grandparents say, “Life is about adventure and changes.”
Right, so... my changes have been made, I’m feeling myself more than ever, I feel bliss and awesome and now it’s time for me to continue with this flow! So how to maintain this feeling of being true to myself whilst being back “home” amongst family within a culture and society that is so far removed from India? First of all, I’m now practicing what I was taught and I’m now (roughly) sticking to this morning structure:
I wake up, lie in bed for a bit and reflect on any dreams worth decoding
I then sit up and do about 10 minutes of breathing exercises (pranayama) combining it with meditation.
I hop out of bed, yogi squat and skull 600ml of water and stay squatted for a few minutes or until my bowls are ready to empty!
💩 (thank you India for teaching me all about how important this topic is!)
I sip on a hot lemon and apple cider vinegar water.
I put on my Kundalini playlist (or sometimes jamming music and I’ll dance around the house)
45 minutes of my own self-practice yoga, making sure that my ending with Om chanting and gratitudes.
Super green awesome smoothie (that my dad kindly makes)
Shower (actually, you’re meant to shower before yoga according to Indian standards, but whatever)
I say hello mobile, hello laptop, hello digital world and friends from afar.
Then the day just flows!
If I don’t stick to this, like the other day... I was feeling SO down, it was incredible to see how my mental health was affected, I felt sad, lost, empty and worthless. At the end of the day, I wonder if I felt inner-peace, happy, or inspired? Did I laugh? Why not? Was it the people around me or the environment I was in that made me go through a day without laughter or even worse smiling? A day without laughter is a day wasted. It’s always and only up to you to make sure that laughter comes into play. My Indian meditation teacher laughs in the mirror for 3 minutes at the start of every day. She was for sure a giggling beauty!
Ohh I can’t even begin to describe how much I learned in such a short amount of time. I could blab on for hours sharing with you what to eat and when, what pose to do for what pain, but in a nutshell, India subconsciously taught me how to live life, how to control my mind and how to be pure. It was only a month, and towards the end of it, I was so excited to return home and jump onto my new path! Woohoo, let’s see where this one will take me… right now I’m taking the slow and steady pace, taking care of myself, reconnecting with family, whilst looking at my home town with fresh new eyes, being open to new opportunities and putting faith in the greater power and myself that life will take me to where I need to be.
As a final reminder, remember, that we all have a choice. A free will to do what we believe in. It’s ok to be stubborn and to stand up to your beliefs. Make sure you flow in life and the choices you make stay true to your nature and are always made with good intentions for yourself, others and the world!