Monthly Archives: February 2014

Breaking the mask

We all wear masks. Even my supercool dog, Shackleton.

We all wear masks. Even my supercool dog.

When one of my teachers, the awesome Gloria Latham, played a mantra for ‘breaking the mask’ at the end of a kundalini yoga class recently, something clicked into place deep inside me.

After some Google-shaped resolution of my Sanskrit crossed wires,  I figured that what I’d roughly scrawled on my inner wrist after class as ‘Hari om, hari hari hari om,’ was in fact this beautiful phrase…

Har ji Har Har
Har Har Har Ji

(Actually sounds like ‘harra jee, harra harra harra harra harra jee’)

This mantra is about breaking our masks. Not just removing them and setting them aside to hide behind at a later date, but full-on smashing them on the floor, like plates at a Greek wedding or the crockery I know I’ve hurled at a wall in a blind rage, looking for a physical outlet for something too loud inside me.

The mantra dares us not just to reveal, but to become the true version of ourselves that we hide underneath the drama and the stories we so often hold so dear.

Sometimes we have BIG IDEAS about who we really want to be. Bright, colourful, mind-bending thoughts about starting something, ending something, being kinder, saying no. Other times we have to visit that quiet place inside ourselves to get a better idea of what we truly, deeply want and listen

One of the biggest problems I’ve had with my yoga practice is that it has completely and uncompromisingly faced me down with how I want my world to be. Somewhere in the honey-ish flow of breath in a vinyasa series, or the imperfect silence of savasana, we’re given a key to ourselves. A quiet knowledge of who we are and where we might fit in the world. Not just in general sweeping terms, but also in little snippets – what we want to eat that night, if we really want to chill at home instead of going out, a phone-call we know we should make.

At first these inklings of the real us are just a quiet niggle that we can smile at and put aside for another day. Maybe when we have financial stability, when we’ve hauled ourselves one more step up that career ladder, when we’ve got a house and a husband and a more presentable dog and a couple of utterly adorable kids, when the stars have aligned and the finger of fate points itself undeniably right in our schnozz… then we can take a risk and invest in being ourselves. But the quiet niggle keeps on niggling until it’s buzzing around in your head all day and becomes an undeniable unquiet. Drama is empty and tiring. Your stories about yourself feel ever more hollow and untrue. 

Finally you come to realize that it’s time to stop pretending. No matter what the size of the gesture, you have to stop taking steps along the path that you think you should be on, the path that your mum, your partner, your boss, [insert significant other you wholeheartedly, and for the best reasons, want to impress here] thinks you should be on, and start taking steps towards chipping off the layers and becoming your true self. 

The dichotomy of living one life on the outside and another on the inside will eventually break us.

So take a step. Crack off the mask, not chunks of yourself. Ask yourself, really ask yourself, in the magic quiet before bedtime or after meditation

Are you becoming the person you intended to become?

and take a listen for yourself.

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