Be Kind to Yourself -by Kina Brehon Williams


I am enthralled with change stories. Even though change is the only constant in this world, it seems to be the thing we resist the most. Sakina was a friend of mine in high school. I haven't seen her in person since I left that dramatic landscape, but we reconnected on Facebook. I've been applauding her silently over the last year as she transformed herself into something amazing. Sakina lost her marriage and her job, but rather than shrinking and withering, she flourished. She embraced the darkness, like we talked about in our Breaking Open retreat at The Homestead Education Center last weekend and grew wings. I am especially appreciative of her public vulnerability. Rather than suffering silently, she shared her hurt, her discomfort, her pain. What a gift! This is her story:

I've practiced yoga and studied the beauty of sanskrit language for over 10 years. Growing up surrounded by many different organized religions has made me a very spiritual person. Having a Jewish babysitter, Christian aunts, and a Muslim father, you can imagine how being exposed to the differences and similarities of these religions has shaped my mind and spirit. Over the past few years, I've experienced great pain and loss. Although these experiences have made me stronger, healing has been a long bumpy road.

One of the most significant experiences has been my job loss. I was let go from my job without notice. I received a severance, but it was nothing that would sustain my lifestyle. I worked hard in a very competitive field, and sacrificed my real dreams to get to where I was. I was very career driven without realizing that I really didn't like my career. I was unfulfilled in so many ways.  I experienced tremendous depression and stress at not being able to find a new job in my field. Weeks of countless interviews, online applications and sending out resumes turned into months. My sadness grew, and my mental state declined as a result. I found myself not going to yoga or exercising in any form. I stopped writing. I canceled meetings with friends and avoided calls from family. I started binge watching TV, staying up for days at a time, and not eating healthy balanced meals.

This unhealthy behavior led to sickness, weight gain and a clinical diagnosis of depression.  I felt as if I was losing control of my life. I was going through a divorce, my dog died, my mother was sick, and I felt as if I was trapped in a box of negativity. I couldn't see anything beyond my misery and unhappiness. I was filled with guilt because I knew I was not being a great mother, and my smart, beautiful daughter had a front row seat to me losing myself. This lasted over a year.

I always think about the exact moment when things changed for me.

I remember waking up in the middle of the night to make a cup of tea because I had been suffering from stomach issues due to my poor diet. The tea bag had a message, “Be kind to yourself.” That moment felt as if the black veil had lifted.  Those simple words changed my life. I knew then that losing my job was, in fact, a blessing. I couldn't see the opportunity to pursue my real dreams and life goals then because I was so angry and I could not shift my negative perspective. It seems so small and even trivial that reading simple words on a tea bag could completely alter my life's perspective, but I believe there are no mistakes. Things happen when they should.

My  dream is to open a wellness center. A place that heals your mind, body and spirit. Becoming a certified yoga instructor was the first step towards this dream. The intense 6 week training has transformed me mentally and physically. I learned so much about myself and my way of thinking. I am in charge of my own happiness. The things that happened to me don't define me and cannot stop me from achieving my goals.

In sanskrit, we say Pratipaksha Bhavanam. It simply means, we become what we think. If we change our thoughts we change our habits and can open ourselves to see what our true goals are.

Thank you Sakina!

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Please follow Sakina on Twitter and look for her new site coming soon!

Twitter: sakina_bk (BKBuddha)