It looks like you are using an AD Blocker, we understand and we would like to share that we are an online media living partly living off advertising revenues. Please turn off your blocker or Subscribe to YOGI Times and we will turn off the ADs for you for one year.
Many yogis share a love for Dr. Brené Brown. For those not familiar with her work, she has spent the past thirteen years researching vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.Through in-depth interviews, Dr. Brown seeks to answer the question: how can we all live more wholehearted lives?
It seems that yogis fall disproportionately in this ‘wholehearted’ camp, or at least deeply aspire to it. But what exactly is the connection between yoga and wholeheartedness? Can yoga teach us how to become more wholehearted? Conversely, can Dr. Brown’s work on vulnerability guide us towards the goal of yoga practice, which is to wake up to our true nature?
The answer to both questions is yes. Wholeheartedness is actually our base nature, which yoga practice helps reveal. As we become more ‘awake’ to this base nature, we feel the world is peaceful and safe, we feel whole, and we feel connected to everything. This allows us to remove our body armor and to be vulnerable. As Dr. Brown explains, vulnerability is the birthplace of courage, connection, and compassion. It is the key to wholehearted living.
This is why Dr. Brown’s work on both vulnerability and the practice of yoga and meditation ask us to embrace vulnerability, to completely accept ourselves and others as we are, and to let our true nature shine through. In a virtuous cycle, as we access our wholehearted nature more and more, we are increasingly able to make ourselves vulnerable and open to all the possibilities life throws our way.
Under Dr. Brown’s guidance, we can learn to see through our numbing behaviors and the stories our egos create, ostensibly to keep us ‘safe’. We can instead embrace our vulnerability, and through this live more wholehearted lives. Under the guidance of our yoga and meditation teachers, we can do the same and perhaps go even further.
What is wholehearted living?
According to Dr. Brown, in order to be wholehearted, we must believe in our own inherent ‘enough-ness’. Many things flow from this feeling of wholeness, but the most important is that it enables us to be vulnerable, to let ourselves be seen and live and love with our whole hearts, ‘showing up’ in the present moment, authentic and alive.
Dr. Brown has said her greatest life-lesson is:
"When you get to a place where you understand that love and belonging, your worthiness, is a birthright and not something you have to earn, anything is possible. Keep worthiness off the table. Your raise can be on the table, your promotion can be on the table, your title can be on the table, your grades can be on the table. But keep your worthiness for love and belonging off the table. And then ironically everything else just takes care of itself."
How can we all be worthy of love and belonging, when love and belonging are things given to us by others, not things that simply exist? A parent loves a child; a child belongs to a group that claims her as its own. In other words, love and belonging seem to be contingent on others. Surely this means worthiness can be taken away at any time? How could a person be worthy of love and belonging regardless of what anyone else thinks?
Selves create separateness; beings create belonging
Yoga and meditation practices ultimately reveal that when we see through our egos as ‘stories we make up’, we understand our separateness to be an illusion. From here we see that the question involves a false premise: that we are separate to begin with.
In our more ‘awakened’ awareness, we realize that we are born into an inseparable web of connection, and can dissolve back into it at any time. When we know in our bodies that we are one ecosystem, one planetary system, one galaxy system etc., we see there is no separate self to beg for love or belonging. There is no 'other' in this state of being.
We are worthy of love because, at our core, we are love. We are worthy of belonging because we were never separate. We can be worthy of love and belonging even if nobody says we are, even if the whole world shuts us out. If we can realize our connection to this 'bigger something', when you feel love for someone, or when you feel they belong, you are registering a deep connection that already exists. In this sense our worthiness is less an individual 'right' to be claimed, and more a deep truth to be understood.
Deep self-study through yoga and meditation can awaken us to this larger awareness, where the constructs of 'self' and 'other' collapse and converge. Yogis sometimes call this ‘non-duality’ or ‘unbounded consciousness’. It is here that we discover our inherent wholeness. In the present moment we see we are already ‘enough.’
How do we become wholehearted?
Dr. Brown has compiled a list of ’10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living’, gleaned from her many interviewees:
1. Cultivate Authenticity – Let go of what people think about you
2. Cultivate Self-Compassion – Let go of perfectionism
3. Cultivate a Resilient Spirit – Let go of numbing and powerlessness
To find out more about Brene Brown's work, visit brenebrown.com