Breaking down my self-made prison through truth

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Yoga Teacher Training with Ana Forrest
See all articles in the Yoga Teacher Training with Ana Forrest series here.

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Ana Forrest Yoga Teacher Trainees

by guest author Seka Ojdrovic-Phillips

The practice brought me to Denver for 27 days of karmic hell and dharmic euphoria. The practice reincarnated 28 years of emotional bullshit compost into rich spiritual soil. The practice destroyed the facade of “reality” in terms of conditioning and societal truths.

I died in the practice.

The practice brought me back to life.

I realized this all at about 5:30 in the morning on Week Two of my Forrest Yoga Teacher Training. It was finger-numbingly cold (as one would expect from the Rockies in Winter) and I had been biking for two miles with another two to go.

The day before I’d, quite literally, faced my end in a Death Meditation that brought TRUTH to the forefront of my life. The absolute certainty of death is a no-brainer way to cut what doesn’t serve you. It’s also a pretty good way to ensure an uneasy night’s sleep, which was my experience.

I’ve thought a lot about the structure of this article throughout the month of March. It usually started with: How the hell do I write about the most life-changing experience of my life in a concise web-friendly article? And the answer was usually: There is no way, don’t worry about it. Just start sharing.

Deep breath. Feel the inhale, it’s rich and ripe with truth. Savor it. Go.

My husband said that he sees me as a statue now, looking deeply toward a limitless horizon. My dad said that he’s a little nervous about relating to me in my changed form. And me? I’ve gotten to know my Spirit for the first time in decades. I know myself to be a powerful healer, a powerhouse, concentrated beauty, so much more than what society has trained me to expect from myself (hmm… soft, squishy caregiver? An object to have sex with? Emotional basketcase because it’s “that time of the month”? Which shall I choose today…).

Spirit is a beautiful thing, and it’s inside all of us. You can re-connect with it, no matter your story or barriers. Sprit is where absolute truth lies… and people respond when you move from that place of truth. For so long I thought of truth as something that you had to hide, lest it hurt someone’s feelings or come off as less than politically correct.

Fuck political correctness. Glance at the paper to see what happens when truth falls away to make room for what’s PC. Or, better yet, check in with how you feel when you’ve knowingly shunned truth in favor of “not stepping on any toes.”

Truth becoming a mirror for all we meet. It’s removing the neediness, the desperation, the addiction, the [insert your habitual spiritual disease here], from our message, from our intent. It’s stalking your shadow side, getting to fully understand the nature and reason for your murkiness, and then finally releasing it. Doing so is the first step in creating a safe, supportive space for Spirit to grow.

My addiction was seeking the approval of others because I couldn’t find it in myself. If only I could groom someone to tell me how pretty I was, how smart, how clever and funny, if only I could get someone else to justify the space I take up on this planet, then I just might believe it myself… for a little while. Problem was, there always came a point when I started Jonesing for Approval Smack again, which usually happened in a month or so.

Following the Death Meditation I was immediately confronted with two choices: continue to soothe the addiction by behaving exactly the way that hadn’t been working for me all this time, or take the other path.

I took the other path. It was intensely painful.

My reward for making the Warrior’s Choice was five days of emotional hell, complete with the reappearance of emotions I hadn’t experienced in decades and rogue thoughts that, had I chosen addiction instead, it would have been easier and even better for me in the long run. Addiction made the pain go away, but it prevented me from clearing the cause of the pain out of my life entirely – a crucial difference.

When I came out the other side (of course I did!), I knew where my Spirit was. For the first time in over twenty years, I knew that Spirit was alive and well, residing in my soul, eager to lead me on a more beautiful and fulfilling path than I’d ever known existed. Ah! So there’s my reward! Definitely beats the relationship of Addiction as ruler and Spirit as slave.

I was free!

I’m (almost) completely comfortable sharing my Shadow Side with a virtual roomful of strangers for a few reasons. To start, I have a new standard of truth speaking thanks to this course and I know how good it feels to acknowledge, speak and respond to unimpeded truth. Second, I know that I’m not the only one with addictions blocking my connection with Spirit. Whether they’re written, spoken of or not, I know you have them. Yes, you. The lovely soul reading this story right now.

So use my story to question your own addictions. Start to be more honest with yourself, because you can’t start speaking truth to others if you don’t even know what truth looks like.

Journalist Malcolm Gladwell writes that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve greatness. You have 24 hours each day to practice truth speaking on your way to 10,000. Don’t waste one precious second.


Dharma homework!

1) Catch yourself saying, “I’m sorry.” What are you sorry for? Did you really mean it or are you apologizing for taking up space? STOP APOLOGIZING FOR TAKING UP SPACE.

2) Get to know your addiction. Smell it. Taste it. Feel its texture. If you don’t think you have one it just means you haven’t stalked it closely enough. When did your addiction start? What are you stopping yourself from feeling by making the choice – over and over again – to feed the addiction rather than FEEL what’s between you and your Spirit.

3) Change the response to your addiction in at least ONE situation. Congratulate yourself lavishly when you do.

Read more: Yoga Teacher Training with Ana ForrestForrest for the trees – no bullshit, just yoga


    • Seka says

      Thank you, THANK YOU, Peter. I’ve been trying to tell myself that it doesn’t matter if I get feedback or not, but that’s a lie. It matters to me tremendously. It means that I’m touching people with my experience and THAT’S GREAT! We’re all here to learn from each other, see where we’ve gone right and see where we must change the message. Actually – the intent behind the message.

      Rock on yourself, peaceful one. 😉

  1. says

    Seka, my love, I’ve always known you are a beautiful spirit. I’m so glad that you endured those days in Denver of “karmic hell and dharmic euphoria” because the Seka I spent time with a couple weeks ago was a woman who seemed really at peace with herself, maybe for the first time ever. I could tell that you had had a life changing experience and it looked good on you.

    You are a fantastic writer and a special friend. I love you!

    • Seka says

      Being a woman who seems really at peace is one of the best compliments you can give me. My Spirit appreciates it. I love you!

  2. Peter says

    Indeed! The intent comes through loud and clear, methinks. Honesty, reality and reconnection to Spirit. I found it very uplifting and refreshing!

    All the best to you, Seka. :)

  3. Jerry says

    The Blue Fairy told Pinocchio he would have to prove himself brave, truthful and unselfish to be transformed into a real boy. You’ve done done all that here, too. Congrats

    • Seka says

      Yes! I’m officially on the other side of brave, truthful and unselfish. I’ve seen what it looks like. Now it’s a matter of growing and nurturing what the Blue Fairy taught Pinocchio (and me, of course).

  4. Brooke says

    I am so proud of you Seka! You brought tears to my eyes and reminded me to listen to my spirit. I can hardly wait until our next conversation!
    Peace & Love,

    • Seka says

      I’ve learned that sharing the process of waking up is one of the best ways to assimilate and support myself on the path. So, yeah – let’s talk! :-)

  5. Lindsay says

    Seka, what a beautiful article. How amazing the insights and deepness that also come through the physical demands of the yoga training. You have inspired me to pursue it myself!

  6. Emma says

    A thought provoking article. I am very new to yoga and meditation and have chosen to start now, to become a more positive person who enjoys life to the maximum. I am slowly becoming aware of my own addictions and trying to change my patterns. Thank you for sharing your thought and experiences.

    • Seka says

      You’re very welcome, Emma. What I’m learning about enjoying life to the maximum is that it also includes embracing the transitions between moments of joy. That can be very, VERY difficult… You’re on a brave path; confronting addictions and changing patterns takes mindfulness, self-love and a WHOLE lot of Warrior Spirit. Truly there’s no better way to spend one’s life.

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