Not Geniusbut Mastery of the Selfto Achieve Success

An ongoing reflection journal by Deidre Douglas Washington, M.Ed.

A journey of a budding yogi.

Drishti Beats trainee Deidre Douglas Washington, M.Ed., Les Mills US National & International Presenter, and CEO of Iron Philosophy Gym, LLC, journals and shares her own yoga teacher training experience and growth.

Last updated: September 13, 2020

July-August 2020 Reflection

Breath is the foundation of good yoga practices. It is the bridge between listening and responding to any circumstance that we may encounter. So, for two months, I decided to go on a “breath mini bliss walk” to discover a deeper mastery of the self. Let me tell you, this was eye opening.

Inspired by another yoga mate, I began to explore life upside down with some fun play working on inversions. Why not? Life is actually interesting upside down. And when I took a sneak peek into the course work, we actually will practice some variations of inversions. So, I started with the very basics, of course, as I was intrigued with how it felt to be inverted. To my delight, it was a challenge and very fulfilling. I had to think and let my body just do it in its own time without forcing anything. And what did I learn? You have to BREATHE! Inversions are actually good for focusing on your breath! Wow, inversions are quite refreshing and invigorating. [Note to self: D, you have to breathe in order to maintain inversion posture and of course steady your DRISHTI.] I began to breathe with purpose and reflect on this journey which opened my eyes to other journeys and chapters in my personal and professional life that I needed to close and re-open or open. Remember, this is a journey about self discovery and peeling away unnecessary layers that masque the true self.

Breathe. In order to unlock your potential, you must breathe. Your breath must be full and robust, steady and rhythmic, calm and intentional. In a lot of ways, your breath dictates all bodily functions, thought processes and helps us to either be proactive or reactive to the things that are happening around us. Proper breathing is vital. Breathing is also good for the mind and body outside of yoga practice. Breathing is all about the connection to our mindset and our will power to do just about anything in life. So what happened on my journey and why did I take such a long time to update this blog? I had to BREATHE… inhale, exhale, breath in and out.

While taking the months of July and August to breathe, I began to reflect back on “why” I started this journey. I wanted to find a moment to breathe in peace and breathe out calmness. At the time of commencing this journey, the world in which we lived was chaotic and ever consuming. It was as if Mother Nature was saying “Stop the madness. Be still my children and BREATHE.” Well, being an Earth sign, I listened to Mother Earth. I embarked on a journey with yoga and to my suprise, I had to learn to really BREATHE. I needed to breathe new life and go back to my roots. Speaking of roots, we will touch on the root chakra and alignment of all chakras next month.

In The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Book Two – Sādhana Pāda, Portion on Practice, we are taught “accepting pain as help for purification, study of spiritual books and surrender to the Supreme Being constitutes Yoga in practice.” What does this have to do with breath? Well, when you are on a journey for mastery of self, you will need to embrace tapas or self-discipline to make a meaningful impact on your personal practice with yoga. You will need to BREATHE deeply to embrace and respect the true austerities of the physical, verbal and mental. Yoga is about self-discipline, being comfortable with your true self and the unknown of rediscovering and embracing your higher calling. It’s about practicing and surrendering to the Supreme Being. It’s about elevating your mind and dedicating yourself to God. When we do what is right, your mind will be free and tranquil. Your breathing is unchanged, and you can feel a better sense of dedicating your life for the good of all humanity. You aren’t pretentious, an egoist, materialistic, untrustworthy, operating under false pretenses or anything that does not seek to serve the good of others. You are acting in the purest and best version of yourself, full of life, hope and breath.

The world, all-encompassing of every living creature and being, is in need of breathing. Every iota of our being should be concerned with dedication, giving and loving to bring us peace, joy and happiness. Our breath is the bridge that leaves chaos behind and embraces the calm.

Until next time…

June 2020 Reflection

Growth. Change. Dhyana Yoga, the seventh limb of yoga. The Bhagavad Gita teaches us to “tame the mind and senses.” In order to do this, we must learn to meditate. Not meditate in the sense that we do it because yoga says we have to, but rather to understand the true self. Meditation is the practice of concentrating on something so much that it becomes easy to connect with the Divine within. When we connect with the Divine within, a true yogi finds serenity and self-actualization or realization. Meditation is the key to unlocking missing links to find peace, even during some of the most tumultuous times.

June proved to be a month where I had to learn to find the peace amidst the tough decisions that had to be made in my life. When the world that I knew with my business came to an abrupt halt, I found that I lost my sense of self. Closure of a dream had come to pass. But that is not the end of the life itself, but rather a beginning to something more. That last statement was hard to grasp, especially when you devote all of your time and most of your financial resources into doing something you love. However, this can’t be the end of my dream, right?

So, what did I do? I pulled out the Bhagavad Gita (BG) and read chapters 6 and 7 numerous times and listened to them for three consecutive days. Why did I do this? I wanted to find peace again with what was happening not only in my personal microcosm of the world, but with the things that were happening globally. I had to get out of my head and find bliss. Bliss was absent yet I could feel it was still so close. I just didn’t allow myself to embrace it because I was too caught up in my own headspace that things were cluttered and unorganized. You see, when we are attached to a culture, place or groups of people without reflecting on our true sense of self, we can get temporarily lost. We take for granted who we are and how much we have to offer ourselves. We cannot pour into another cup if our cup is empty.

The BG teaches us to find spiritual energy to persevere the toughest and most demanding of times. It teaches us to embrace our inner Divinity, to get closer to the true understanding of the Atma. But how do we do this? We meditate daily, at the same time consistently. The BG invites us to see unity everywhere, in every creature or situation, in all creation and that which is. All we have to do is pause and reconnect. In my case, I needed to pause, meditate and reconnect to find peace, comfort and solutions. Once that practice resumed, it was easier to come out of the temporary “lost” feeling and back on the path to the true sense of self, the one who is unmoved or unbothered when the world around us is chaotic. It’s amazing what you see and hear when you discover the power of meditation. Give it a try if this practice is absent from your daily life.

June was the month of meditation reconnection. It led me to find what truly makes me happy and for that, the Atma is more content and ready to connect with the Divine. July will be a time for continued practice with a renewed purpose, following my passion and using my yogi power to grow and share light with others.

Until next month…

May 2020 Reflection

Aparigraha, that lovely Niyama, relates to the need to possess something in order to feel good about myself. I feel great about myself, actually, given the facts that I learned to let go of some things by default of being an entrepreneur for the past 2 years. I’ve learned to live as a minimalist, having less of every tangible thing that most people consider to be luxuries. My main work of the mind is that less is more and that’s okay. We don’t need things to be a good human. We need to be HUMAN.

Aparigraha means non-possessiveness or non-attachment. When we live life with a firm understanding that change occurs, we free ourselves to embrace the new. Our world begins when one door closes and another opens. What we experience in the wake of COVID-19 is merely a way for us to set up our minds to receive an unknown and undetermined outcome. As fitness leaders, we are always going to experience change. Clinging on to things, titles, accolades, etc. goes against what the Universe is asking us to do right now. I say all of this because we just need to remember our purpose in the industry and practice Aparigraha. When we do this, we will continue to see and receive blessings. Namaste.

Apraigraha has become a means of communicating with myself. I find that a lot of times, I simply must see what is happening, find the relevance, if any that it has on me, and let the rest go. I cannot own someone else’s burden, but I can respect their emotional processing and offer support. It is not my place to own something that isn’t mine nor compare my life to theirs to make them feel at ease. I can simply just be and offer wisdom if solicited. That is tricky in today’s society as everyone wants an answer when the truth of the matter is, we must derive at our own answers based on our contexts.

Satya, truthfulness, begins within us. When we speak the truth about ourselves, it is easy to speak the truth in the world. When we live in truth, it makes it so much easier to deal with worldly stressors. We are seen as being trustworthy and honest. We don’t have to remember false statements because we speak genuinely from the heart when we practice Satya. This lovely gem is so good to tap into because it makes communication, clarity, and coordination so much easier.

Speaking of communication, the dialogue we have with ourselves dictates the type of dialogue and vibrations we give off to the Universe. Regardless of any words that we speak to others, our heartfelt intentions manage to come through, even if we do our best to mask our feelings. We are humans made up of many feelings and emotions. We just need to learn how to channel them accordingly. This yogic lifestyle allows me to pause in reflection of the mind, to think a little more and be observant of the inside voices. If these voices in my mind are congruent with my heart, the Universe will grant what it desired at the right time. It’s all about timing and being able to discern.

This process is causing me to unplug more from the worldly outtakes of life and reflect more on the humanistic side of living to help other humans grow.

“Where there is love and light, we achieve peace of mind. Where there is peace of mind, we are free to explore. When we explore more avenues, we realize that life is abundantly plentiful and pleasant. Allow the love and light to illuminate the world because we all have a divine purpose in the Universe without pretense.”

~ Deidre Douglas

Until next month…

April 2020 Reflection

Depicted below is how my mind operates with respect to living a yogic lifestyle. There are two key implications that I desire to achieve with this process.

  1. When opportunity presents itself, seize it.

  2. There is no short-cut to the process of evolving to a higher self. The internal work must be done consistently on a daily basis.

When the Universe introduced this opportunity to me, I paused asking myself, “Why does this feel right? What, Universe, do you need me to do right now? I’m at a crossroads in many areas of life, so why add another path?” Well the opportunity is here because there is a lesson to learn and now is the time to focus on my next calling to assist others. Distractions abound and decisions are plenty, but this journey has proven up to this point that now is the time to seize the opportunity for growth. Only those who are passionate and believe in this process will make it happen. What does this mean? It means that when we let go and the Universe guides us, we see things clearer and with intention and purpose. We are able to discern and use the innate wisdom that we have to make sound decisions with respect to Earth, the Universe and the humans whom live on this planet.

With respect to this process with Drishti Beats, I began unpacking and letting go of a lot of false pretenses and ideologies. These are:

  1. The need to “fit in.”
  2. The need to wear my hair in a way that looks like others.
  3. The need to wealthy.
  4. The need to be married, again, and to be “loved” by the societal stipulations of having a mate to survive.
  5. The need to be connected with a business partner or someone to help me be the best fitness and business leader that ‘I thought’ I needed. Life according to Deidre meant that I was to have someone working with me daily in the office. I’m realizing that it doesn’t need to be that way. I guess I like to be around people on a daily basis to grow. I realize that I don’t have to be around people (in proximity) to grow. I can grow with people via other modes.

I’ve also learned to forge meaningful relationships in a myriad of ways. I’ve learned how to cultivate these relationships by being more open and honest with what I want to achieve by establishing the relationships. It is all about communication. When communication is at the forefront, it makes it easy to establish relationships.
I believe I’ll run on to see what the end will be!

Until next month…

March 2020 Reflection

Genius is over-rated. Genius implies that a person has an exceptional intellectual or creative power or other natural ability, is exceptionally intelligent or creative, very clever or ingenious. So often in life, we seek to be exceptional, near genius sometimes, with all that we do.

We seek to be exceptional in order to attain success or be considered successful. Success is simply not just about innate ability to achieve a desired goal. Success is a combination of factors such as opportunity, timing, upbringing, meaningful and passionate hard work, working 10,000 hours to gain mastery, and your cultural legacy. All of these play a role in success in each domain of life. But do they really have an implication on living a yogic lifestyle? Are we doing a disservice to our natural flow of being in the moment with life?

With the current and ever-present Westernized way of thinking about genius and success, we will continue to run the “genius and success” race ill equipped with our current tools and ways of thinking and being. At some point, we need to pause just long enough to listen to the inner Divine voice within us to reconnect to our true innate genius and success that is NOT defined by the modernized and Western way of thinking and acting.

During this tumultuous time in the midst of COVID-19, we need to respect the guise of Mother Earth. We must find a way to use time wisely, aligning and attuning ourselves with a wholistic way of living. It behooves us to find ways to reconnect to our innate abilities to use time and resources wisely. We have microwaved one too many meals, cash advanced our way to being rich, monopolized our way into politics and cultivated a culture of “isms” that has stifled progress. Why? Perhaps it is due to the fact that we look to be genius and successful in the eyes of others as opposed to being connected to ourselves to help others become connected. We are disenfranchised with technology so much so that it is being used to solicit popularity instead of increasing the well-being of others. Surely the Universe recognizes this, right? Is there a missing link that we need to explore? Of course the answer is “yes” to both, which led me to explore the yogic lifestyle.

Let me explore my thoughts on this as a budding yogi. Random factors of chance, such as when and where you were born can influence the opportunities you have. With the onset of understanding the yogic lifestyle, I am yet in the infinite stages. Success is NOT the worldly outcome in this instance. My measure of success on this journey is knowing that I am capable of adapting to the process fully without restraint and trivial distractions. It is more than just doing the exercises each week. It is cultivating a culture of growth while inspiring and assisting others to be successful. Keeping these premises in mind, creating a yogic lifestyle requires a different way of thinking and acting. It requires being intentional with EVERY decision. That means using a different set of lenses to make this venture work.

It takes a lot of attention to detail. The first step is to pay close attention to internally working through false ideals and ideologies. You have to unpack some things to be free in order to grow. For me, it is as simple as practicing Ishvara Prahnidhana (surrender) daily. At the moment, I am in deep thought. It is a sort of obsession unparalleled to anything else. I’m obsessed with completely purging the old ways of thinking to embrace a lighter and freer mindset to positively impact others on this Earth. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting and breathing and letting go since beginning this process in March 15, 2020. In essence, meditation has taken precedence in my daily life at minimum twice daily. The reason? I’m at the point of understanding some of the concepts that we are exploring, most especially the Yamas and Niyamas, as these have become more prevalent in my daily thought processes. It’s as if all thoughts and actions are now being filtered via the yamas and niyamas before words or actions are take place.

~ Until next month…