I've always thought of empowerment as this massively influential, monumental concept. It's honestly quite intimidating to me. Feel empowered, be empowered, help empower others - that's big stuff.
The practice of yoga is often tied to the idea of self-empowerment. And as a student and guide of the practice there are times that I can't help but feel confused, and conflicted, and a little worried. Am I self-empowered? Do I help self-empower others through teaching? What if I don't? What if I'm a non-empowered individual who doesn't help empower others at all?
If my mind were a car it'd definitely be one of the fast track racing kinds with the massive wheels, all aerodynamically constructed. It's wired for speed (for better or worse). My mind gets going and it gets going fast. I've learned that the only way to reel myself back to steady mindedness is to stop and go back to the roots of my thinking...
I ask myself, what is self-empowerment anyways and what does it mean to be self-empowered? For my own sanity, I've got to break it down and remind myself what empowerment is all about and link it to why I am the way I am and why I do what I do.
To me, self-empowerment is being secure in your beliefs, values, morals and consequent actions. Being self-empowered means you know who you are, you're ok with who you are, and you think, speak and act in accordance with who you are. To be self-empowered means to be you and to feel damn good about being you - no apologies.
For me, helping to empower others means engaging in constructive discourse about the self - both myself and the self of the person I'm conversing with. I am who I am, and they are who they are, and through words, listening and action we accept and embrace each other exactly as is. This process of accepting and embracing is how we can help empower others - by seeing them and appreciating them for all that they are - body, mind and soul.
So, am I self-empowered? Well, I wouldn't say I'm fully self-empowered, no. I'm learning about who I am and I'm attempting to align my thinking, speaking, acting and being with the beliefs, values and morals that I view as dire and unmovable. But I don't think I'm at a point where I can shout, "I AM SELF-EMPOWERED" from the rooftops. I feel like I'm at a stage of becoming self-empowered. And I'm aok with that, for now.
Language is so important to me. Wording things in a way that is conscious, intentional and deeply thought-out can make a huge difference in how we make ourselves and others feel. I always say, "helping to empower others" and not "empowering others" because I honestly think we're the only ones who can ultimately empower ourselves. I think it comes from within, not from outside. So, I think we can help empower others by engaging in dialogue about who we are and who they are and accepting and embracing each other. From this, I think that one doesn't need to be fully self-empowered in order to help empower others. I think we can be in the process of becoming empowered ourselves and still help to empower others. It'd follow from this that any two people conversing whether empowered or becoming empowered (exception of being utterly ignorant of which there may be a select few in the world), are positively contributing to the empowerment of themselves and the person they're with.
My intention when I write, when I guide yoga, heck when I interact with others in general, is to be as much myself as I know to be in the present and to accept and embrace the person I'm with as they are. Empowerment is about inner strength spawning from an understanding of yours and others authenticity. I strive to help empower others when I think, speak, act and be, and I hope that I do so effectively.
Empowerment is definitely a monumental concept. It's the relationship we have with ourselves. A relationship, which influences every other relationship in our lives. But it needn't be so complicated. Self-empowerment and the act of helping to empower others is actually quite simple in retrospect. After slowing my mind down and thinking about it...
Self-empowerment = Just fully being (talk about power)
Becoming self-empowered = The process of coming to fully be
Helping to empower others = Accepting and embracing others as they are so that they move through the becoming empowered stage to the self-empowered one
Ok, race car is officially slowing down 😌
The honest learnings and raw reflections of my practice and my life. Unedited.