Innovating from the Inside Out – Yoga Teacher Training

“If you can’t feel excited by your own creative output, you have to try something new. No one can innovate without destroying or dissolving what came before.” These words came to me from a deeply trusted ally in the Spring of 2015. I was questioning my impact. I was vacillating about signing up for Yoga Union teacher training. I was in the crucible of a perfectionist bout, trying to create original dance pieces with social impact, and I was stuck. So stuck. Upon hearing these wise words amidst my decision making, I asked myself “How can a yoga teacher training certification program help a creative block?” I honestly had no idea.

Carl Jung said “Only the dreamer knows the dream.” My waking visions were of a pending breakthrough. A gut feeling was saying the teacher training could be a door opening. At night I literally dreamed of Indra: God of the Heavens, stirring and erupting the skies, calling me to put myself right in the Storm, to wake up to Life with invigorated breath, to trust my unique impulses toward social justice. I was being pulled, though the internal skies were still thick with clouds.

People’s voices were buzzing in my ears. Well-intended friends and family were telling me what I’d heard my whole life “You should be more self-confident. Let go all the self-doubt.” Additionally, I was hearing again and again that I was gifted at helping people. The truth? It was challenging to digest these messages. It had always been challenging. Harder still for me was hearing them within spiritual communities. The appreciation, care and honor was dear. True friendship is eternally invaluable. The difficulty was stomaching the knowing that my path was one of committed dissolution of what I had been, and purely not knowing how to muster any confidence in a self which no longer fit a vision for the world I desired. I hungered for humility. I wanted to be undone in some way, and to merge and recollect, like a refugee longs to return to her/his homeland. This longing was my prakriti, as real and natural for me as the rising and setting Sun.

In the past I would have judged this longing as neurosis. Additionally, I would have judged well-intended loved ones as trying to promote a new-age narcissism within me. I would have been suspicious of it all, exalting stoicism. Yet, I was older and just a wisp wiser. I knew these judgments were dead-ends. Within this, something true arose. A yearning was galvanized inside of me to find a thread for my disparate parts, a yoking.

Yoga was slowly becoming this thread. Specifically, practicing at Yoga Union. I would arrive in class and surrender within and without myself. Slowly this would happen. Practicing started to subtly undo me. It happened again and again. One day the weight of the world’s suffering hung cumbersome across my back. I felt I’d die from the sadness of loss on our planet. The next day, in practice, I felt the axis of my presence as a plentitude, sufficient to heal in the world. It also happened that while I mysteriously reassembled, I would be flooded with appreciation for the precious fragility of us all on our mats, practicing together. A path was being lit, a fresh awareness of freedom inside of me shown, woven through breath and listening to the wisdom offered.

Then, one day, in class these words came “Sharp like a razor’s edge is the Path.” The beloved teacher spoke this in class, suspended from quiet presence, radiant smile and soft eyes, with no trace of stress. I expected some stress in this speaking of the Path as a razor, from Upanishads. Diana, the teacher, had no edge. The experience landed in my belly with resounding stillness. The experience was a lyric clinging to my viscera, clear and true. Opposites were merging. The thought came into my head: “Oh no, square one! I’m back at the beginning again.” Then some breaths, and the next thought came “ Oh wait. I’m always back at the beginning! But, I’m here practicing with my teachers in my yoking place. Thank you.” It was exactly what was needed. I signed up for the yoga teacher certification.

Everyday, specifically since the training has begun, as I “show up on the mat,” I get a body remembrance of how Life is distilling infinite wisdom and offering it with affinity, ongoing, if I am willing to slow down, practice, practice more, and receive. I have been unwilling at times. Oh yes. I have missed the natural opportunities to bow to generous teachers, humbly offering their gifts each day. I have clung to an identity as an “outsider.” Somehow though, wrangling internally, doing the dukkha dance, I leaned into dissolution and it has been sweet.

Committing to study with teachers, and reach this hand into the unknown, has brought wild hurdles. There have been the obvious logistical hurdles with the teacher training, ones I share with everyone in my cohort. My personal flavor is that I’m a single working mom, with majority custody of my two children (I have learned to court this special fatigue with lots of chocolate). There is a financial hurdle as well. Being in an artistic, healing profession —like so many of us— the income forecast can get very stormy. Currently I’m no exception. These are my hurdles, time and money. They are places we all know well, shared spaces. They are places on the path to gather, build strength, and increase endurance.

The one rational thought I had in signing up for yoga teaching training was income opportunity. The Yoga Union community, for me, is grounded. I imagined the real possibility of helping people, upon completion, in ways that would be unique, long-lasting, and full of beneficial physical shifts . I felt a deep trust in the hands of Annie, to guide potential teachers toward health, healing, and wellness that was measurable and tangible for students. Thus far, I have never once been disappointed.

In the training, we have left zero stones unturned. Repeatedly, there have been Sutra stories offered in the most serendipitous of times. Indra visited, again, this time through a healing story shared during a real-time health crisis within our training. There has been rigor required of us, again and again. There has been the call to show up and speak up with authentic voices, from the guru within each of us, as emerging teachers of yoga. There has been constant fires stoked, saying “stay awake” and noting that the path requires a ruthlessness, a razor’s edge walk, one of humility and certainty of Self. With mystery, we have been shown by the teachers how to walk this path of compassion, confidence, patience, and plenty of trust.

I know we can all glamorize and be mesmerized by our own quest and attainment of Truth. Through this training I have come to know that real liberation comes from continually returning to how much we do not know. I have experienced more surprising joy than can be measured, by how much not-knowing has been accepted and embraced. The reminders from our teachers has been how they are always learning, always students.. Yet, their vast knowledge is oh-so real and prevalent. I will be digesting and assimilating for years what I have been taught. This is exciting.

I am a teacher at heart. I love to teach. I’ve taught dance and therapeutic movement for over 15 years. I’ve performed since I was a child. I’ve allowed my body to be embedded with performance perfectionism. Simultaneously I’ve doggedly sought out a creative edge, exploring and wandering to unknowns. To receive the teachings of the Sutras, asana, mantra, alignment-based vinyasa, bio-mechanics, and applied kinesiology, again and again, has been a salve for my hungry soul. There are many places to study yoga and many ways to absorb the yogic teachings. In my experience, the teachers of this certification training hold stewardship. They are stewards for the mystical and technical, the ancient and the modern within this practice of embodied, life-giving yoking.

This teacher training has settled and excited me. It has stirred and calmed me. I have found and lost myself through the enormity of this lineage. I’ve found a softer curve in my hard line of social justice. A creative fire has returned, I’m so happy to say. The tapas of my practice, the disciple fire has returned me in the repose of humility and curious expectation over and over. It is exhilarating to rest and burn here in this teacher training. My life is better for it. Hopefully others lives will be too.

Wise Living- The Skill of Being Present

As I write this third post of the month of April, I am listening to the full SNL show that paid tribute to Prince.  I think the shock has worn off a bit and an amazing amount of appreciation has surfaced.  In a time when the world seems to have so much chaos, we can honor a light that burned so bright.  I can’t say enough about the now legend that is Prince.

I moved through detox week and was met with more challenge than I had anticipated.  I made it four days with no coffee and mostly just veggies…  I felt the full effects of my body cleansing and needing to rest.  That was the hard part.  Also, honoring the success of the four days and not feeling as if I had failed to have not met the week goal.  This is a success that I feel will precede the next effort.  This is a process right?  Just taking action to try is huge.  I feel good about the cleanse in general.  My neurons became raw as I challenged my body to not rely on cravings but to re-align with the strength of my body and brain.  Wow!  What a boost and feeling of renewal, growth, and change.  I think that this process, along with running, and yoga allowed me the space to be open.  Open to the present and as Rolf Gates stated so eloquently, “to participate in life as it is happening”.

I also noticed something else quite amazing.  I must give accolades to my teacher Annie Adamson Vogt.  I have been studying with Annie now since September in the 200hr yoga teacher training.  I admire so much the dedication Annie has to her ever evolving knowledge and understanding of yoga.  I have learned volumes about yoga, studentship, sisterhood, and respect for one another.  I have been focusing so much on the structure of my yoga practice and relearning how to practice the shapes and poses in ways that are safe and kind to my body.  I have been working hard to strengthen, so that I may touch upon the grace of opening up into the shapes.  I hadn’t realized yet how much all of this concentrated effort, and really taking in what Annie is teaching was effecting me.

I felt the practice come into play this weekend when taking Rolf Gates workshop.  He kept saying to find the middle.  The place between effort and ease.  As I started the workshop I felt a bit weak, likely due to the cleanse.  I felt like I didn’t have the strength to do the physical practice.  But then something strange happened.  I just moved into the practice anyway.  I just allowed my body to be where it was at and let that be the determiner of where my middle was.  As I let go of expectation and just enjoyed my practice I suddenly realized how much stronger my body had become and how much the poses felt so good in my body.  I can actually see how all the concentrated effort of the last several months has actually changed and strengthened me.  Through the guidance of Annie and my own effort I could finally just relax into it and have some fun with it.  With that aside I was also present.  I followed Rolf’s guidance somewhere in my middle and I felt as if I could just keep going.  As this sheath of old self doubt started to move away from me, I could feel myself and my heart shining bigger and brighter.  Loving kindness and compassion was all I could think of.  My mind was calm and I could just enjoy the experience of my heart feeling full and open and I was able to let in the experience of the other people around me also enveloped in beautiful practice.  It was amazing.  This is how we help each other.  How we let each other into our lives and form this beautiful heartfelt and intentional community.

I feel it is such a gift and an honor to be a part of something so positive.  I believe that this is how we change our neuroplasticity, and generate new thought patterns that then ripple out into our everyday lives.  This is positive change.  All I could think was that I had found my joy and I wanted more of that.  They say that when the student is ready the teacher will appear.  I am a student of life and have a deep desire to learn.  Some amazing teachers have shown up in my life and I am learning.  I have to also give accolades to teachers Todd Vogt, Chris Calarco, Carly Budhram, Winter Pemberton, Kate Smith, Natalia Policelli and all the lovely teachers at Yoga Union.  Your commitment to practice and ability to teach is truly inspiring.

There are five days left in the challenge.  I am fifteen classes in and feel that I will meet the goal of 20 classes.  Every challenge is different and this one for me has been profound so far.  So, I will end this post with a quote from the Tao Te Ching:

Verse 32
The Tao is forever undefined.
Small though it is in the unformed state, it cannot be grasped.
If kings and lords could harness it, the ten thousand things would naturally obey.
Heaven and earth would come together, and gentle rain fall.
Men would need no more instruction and all the things would take their course.
Once the whole is divided, the parts need names.
There are already enough names.
One must know when to stop.
Knowing when to stop averts trouble.
Tao in the world is like a river flowing home to the sea.

Danielle Boucher Quast.

Why do this teacher training? / Yes, you are brilliant.

I have a complicated relationship with yoga, and a little back-story might be necessary here: I’ve had eating disorders (primarily abstaining, caloric reduction) from about when I was 16-22. For a time they, and my yoga practice, were tied. My sophomore year of college (age 19-20), I was going to a heated power vinyasa class every day. I can’t say that what I was doing then was the “yoga” that I practice today. It was exercise resembling yoga, while listening to Britney Spears or Bon Iver remixes. It was a studio mirrored on all walls, causing my already out of control dysmorphia to shoot through the roof.

Classes ended in May and I went home to Los Angeles for the summer. When I came back to Portland in August, my friend informed me that the hot studio was out, Yoga Union was in. I was secretly relieved. But while I went, and took several classes, I put up walls. I felt trepidation. I felt the warm vibrating heart of a true practice, a community of love and self-love and I recoiled. I wasn’t prepared. It would take so much work. I couldn’t tune out and sweat for an hour with a hyped up instructor repeating the same things over and over again, day in, day out. I was on the brink of touching something deep, I felt its energy. It would force me to look at myself, to see–I was terrified.

I said I was “taking a break” from yoga. I got further from myself, and found an odd comfort in dissociating. I made new friends, girls with high tequila tolerances. I was atrophying. I was taking adderall and not eating much, again. My good friend and then housemate was doing the 200 hr at YU; she talked about it and again I saw that thing, that light. Still, I was intrigued, but far from ready to approach it.

The next year (my last year of college, age 21-22) was the same, but better; I lost myself in someone else. I was ecstatic, but all my love and devotion poured outward. When it ended a year and a half later I felt like the thinnest sheet of paper.

The point of all this: I spent years trying frantically to sustain and nourish my relationships while neglecting the relationships of my mind to body, body to mind, spirit, soul, whatever you choose to call that “it.” That essence that makes you, you. The place where all your selves intersect. I was running from it, or rather seeking confirmation of it from sources outside, sources who can only feign knowledge of it. Sure, they could see my wellspring, but how could they know it?

I had to leave and come back. I didn’t go back to practicing until after I graduated college. Even then, I went infrequently. I had to wait until another heartbreak. I was angry, I was numb. I started attending more classes, primarily out of a self-righteous place. What I was met with was what I had seen before, in part: a beautiful community, steeped in dedication and mutual respect, true studentship. I felt ready now. I felt ready to throw myself on the shores of this new continent and feel.

There are problems for me in religion, certain kinds of schooling, certain kinds of yoga. Dogmatic thought, rigidity, hierarchy. Idolization of a guru or teacher. Searching for the answers outside your true self, your center. When I get quiet with myself, I know what I want. The main reason why I felt so sure in choosing this training was the fact that I’ve done private sessions with Annie. That she’s shown me true healing happens from someplace deep inside, someplace nameless. I knew I wasn’t signing up for a teacher training to be able to get into crazy instagram-worthy inversions or “be super flexible.” I signed up to witness the magic that is as simple as breath. To study the interfaces of the body, the skin of language, its texture, quality, effects. To connect these threads.  

As I knew she would, Annie leads an amazing program. I can hardly explain how, because I am still trying to make sense of it–this paradise/playground for body-nerds and all of us still waiting on our acceptance letter from Hogwarts. We come here to play, to be wild, and also to be perpetual, devoted students. In simplest terms, the YU teacher training is about each person becoming a unique type of teacher. This program understands that we all come here from different paths, and we all hope to glean different things. We all have our own voices, and the training celebrates this diversity rather than try to homogenize them. Above everything else it does (you will learn about anatomy, alignment, pranayama, sadhana, how to theme, how to sequence, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg), the teacher training program at YU re-introduces you to your own brilliance, the fact that you have deep inner wisdom and are, in fact, “enough.” We are learning from each other and ourselves.

This simple statement (yes, you are brilliant!), while so intuitive, is actually pretty radical for a 200 hr teacher training. Most people I know who’ve received this certification elsewhere do it by spending 20-30 long days having information and sequences drilled into their brains. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but there’s a reason that, on the one hand, the number of 200 hr teacher training graduates climbs steadily every year, and on the other, quality instruction is hard to find. This has been frustrating as well, and simply another part of the practice: understanding that most people aren’t really going to grasp what I’m doing here. Do I even fully know what I’m doing here? Part of the process is dismantling everything I thought I knew. I am learning to be with my body. I am re-learning what is is to be human.

I am a writer, so predictably, the language piece is one of the most interesting parts of teacher training. And strangely, the most difficult. It’s easy for me to memorize anatomy, pose cues, sequences, but ask me to demo a pose and talk a student through it, and I freeze. I am forced to re-language. To come to terms with my internal landscape in the moment and relation with said pose.

We are learning to address the individual as much as the group. We are learning to look, to see again. There are artists, photographers, who make one body (usually the body of their lover) their muse, their inspiration (sometimes the same person, for life!). I am learning to be inspired and humbled by all bodies.

Annie demonstrates this practice to us, this seeing with eagle eyes. I am so serious so much of the time. On the final day of phase 2, she called each of us up to individually teach a pose, a sequence, lead a centering, etc. For each one of us, the piece she gave us to teach was inspired by her observations of us as individuals. I remember thinking, I hope she gives me something HARD to teach, I want to be challenged, I want to think. When it was my turn and I stood up there, she looked at me and said “Teach surya b, one breath per movement, and do it with a smile.” Having been watching me, she had given me a challenge that I needed. To shake out of myself, to crack a smile. There are constant reminders given that we all need different pushes, challenges, assists, just like no two students will ever be the same.

There are difficult, sticky spots in this training (spots that will be different for each person); it is not an easy thing to undertake. The same could be said of life. Sthira sukha. In this training there is structure, and there is sweetness. I am learning to be steady and easeful. I am held.

For most of my life, I’ve been labeled a “brain.” I excelled academically without trying very hard, but I did plenty of sports too: water polo, lacrosse, soccer, swim team. Never did the academic and physical cohere, merge, come together. I fell in love with yoga when I realized how it marries the two spheres, or can. It’s been proven to me how rare it is to find a studio that so fuses heart, alignment, intelligence,  humor, and eloquence into an experience of group practice. Often times a studio offers either a good workout, or a wholly spiritual experience without attention on safe alignment practices; rarely do we find both. It’s why when students find Yoga Union, they tend not to leave. It’s why I never would have considered doing my 200 hr anywhere else. It’s why this program is challenging, revealing, exposing, breathtaking; because of this, not for everyone. There are no scripts here, and there is not always an answer.

In vulnerability, in the unknownness of our own depths, we are re-born. I am meeting myself anew every day. I am exploring what I think it means to feel whole.

When we are speaking of wholeness, of integration, what do we really mean. We could devote lifetimes to the question (many have). I am only speaking to my process, how I come to the eternal question that is practice. Yoga is my morning reading with a cup of coffee. It is not telling myself what or how or when to consume. It is me telling myself, I trust you. It is sitting in front of my window, other windows, coffee shops, in front of the page. Looking out at daffodils and sweet lavender. It is watching how people move, walk, hug, how their faces and postures tell me more than they know. It is telling myself, I forgive you.

When the body finds a happy equilibrium, neuroses fall away, become less important. My body knows itself better now. I don’t look at a gaunt underweight body in the mirror and think, god, I’m huge. I look at a body that’s healthy and alive, and no, the relationship isn’t perfect—I’m well aware that it might never be. Because we’re shifting things, we’re not static. We have limitations; we cannot evanesce. and we also have needs. Embracing the practice of healing through movement is the healthiest thing I could ever have done. I was so fixated on becoming this perfect image; but images are “fixed,” and because of this they often bear false witness to the living, breathing body.

For me, practice is trust. It is repeating but not repeating, giving ancient words fresh life. It is this kind of dedication and devotion. This rubbing of a precious stone, a bead in my thumb and forefinger over and again. It is, in months without markers, telling my period, where are you, come back. This is my body, this is my home.

In my teacher training experience, “yoga” ends up being a wholly different beast than I thought I knew. My experience, my practice, my knowledge has inarguably deepened, but at the same time, the idea of what yoga (or practice) is, has exploded—become diffuse. A million little atoms. I have a favorite poet who, in a lecture, talked about finding new ways to mean, new ways to image, imagine, express: We only know what things mean to us when we break them. Through the practices, I, my center, my it, is cracked open. I am beginning to work out what that means.



Yoga Teacher Training – Discovering Modern Magic

Growing up on 2,000 acres of hay fields and forested mountain, you will believe in magic. I spent the first decade of my life making potions out of thistle heads, dragonfly wings, badger bones and handfuls of small river rocks. I could speak to all of the animals, and the wind, and the thunderclouds. With the addition of my parent’s rejection of the catholic church, and the tale of a certain boy wizard and his scar, my belief in magic became the very foundation of my being. Growing up on that much land, how could you look up at the never-ending blue sky and not think that it was created specifically with you in mind, along with every other living creature?

When your best friend dies unexpectedly at age 15, you stop believing in magic. And after that, life has a way of cementing that transition into place; it is never the same. It wasn’t a slow transition, I just stopped. I stopped believing there was anything special about anyone.

Searching for some sort of control, I turned my attention to myself. I explored my body, my skin, first with my hands and then with other things: needles, pins, and blades. Every time I tore into my own skin I became blindingly aware of my place in the world, unimportant, obsolete, but still here with my feet on the ground.

At the time that I found yoga, two years later, I was scarred inside and out. Yoga did not save me, as it has for so many people. In fact, it made life even harder than it was before. The sound of the harmonium did not spark a fire in my heart, nor did the traditional stories give any metaphoric meaning to my life. Chanting om in a dark room gave me no more feeling of connectedness than I felt at any other time. Mostly I rolled my eyes, but the physical practice gave me something real to distance my thoughts from body, a new way to separate the memories from the right now.

It took several more years for me to stop feeling like a fraud in my own yogic practice. At 21 years old, I was just surfacing from another long and self-destructive bout with depression. I saw an ad online from a local yoga studio offering a 200hr Teacher Training. Whether you dream of teaching, or simply want to deepen your understanding of yoga, join us and take your practice to the next level.

Deepen your understanding. This time I did not roll my eyes. I wanted to understand.

When I discovered the Yoga Union 200hr Teacher Training, I did not know Annie, I did not live in Portland, and it was not particularly on the top of my list. At the time, I wanted to go to some resort island, spend a month practicing asana on the beach, and return home with a certificate. In all honesty, the Yoga Union training was simply the only training that would fit into my schedule. But as I researched the studio and the woman who directed it, I heard something speak from what I can only name as my very center, urging me that this was a step I needed to take.

The first spark of new magic, of following intuition. I read blog posts, watched the video on the website, and more and more I felt like this would finally be the thing to pull me from my self-made pit of despair, that Annie would be the one to save me from my self-doubt, and help me to escape my shadow self. I had not named it to myself yet but deep down I wanted it to all make sense again, for magic to make sense again. I had my hesitations but I followed that growing feeling in my gut, and I applied.

Annie will show you magic, but not in the way I had originally thought. On one of the first days of training, she told us the story of Ganesha’s broken tusk. In the story, Ganesha breaks his tusk in anger, and hurls it at the full moon, shattering the moon into it’s lunar phases. Afterwards, reflecting on the incident, Ganesha wonders, What am I supposed to do with this tusk now? What purpose does it have, now that it is broken? He regretfully wishes he had never broken it off in the first place. Later, however, a great sage asks Ganesha to scribe for him, as he narrates the greatest epic of all time. Ganesha realizes that the broken piece of himself that he has been carrying around for so long, can now become his greatest tool. He dips his broken tusk in a big pot of ink, and agrees to scribe for the sage.

This training will ask you to face your broken parts. As much as Annie will inspire you, she will push you to be the best version of yourself. She is a warrior, a fierce friend, and a leader and role model to her community, but she did not get there from taking the easy road. With over a decade of experience, her self-driven study and passion encompasses many aspects of yoga, from fundamental and functional movement, to mantra and ritual and the practice of prayer, to yoga therapeutics designed specifically for the individual. She is a masterful storyteller, a clear and precise teacher, and can see each and every person as their own unique set of body, mind, and soul.

That being said, this training is anything but easy. There is no beach, there is no automatic certification. There is no standardized program taught the same to each trainee. You and your fellow trainees will graduate from this program uniquely different from each other, each with your own set of passions and skills. As she invests in each individual, Annie will design exercises specific to your strengths and weaknesses.

I am now two thirds of the way through this training and everything has changed. In a totally thrilling way, I have more questions than when we began six months ago. In this training you will receive a comprehensive knowledge of the physical human biomechanics and anatomy, learn the actions and qualities of postural alignment, explore mantra, meditation, and daily ritual. You will feel inspired, and sometimes overwhelmed. You will do all of this, but more than that, you will rediscover magic, or whatever word you use to describe that feeling, that drive, that gives your life meaning. That place inside that reminds you that we are all walking our own paths, but regardless, we are walking together. That place that heals, and forgives our past mistakes.

In this training, I have rediscovered magic but it is different than how I knew it before. It is not know-the-future, bring-a-dead-squirrel-to-life magic, but the magic of simply knowing the self. Waking up in the morning and living every day with purpose and intention will yield results, or at the very least, change. When you know what you want, it is easier to achieve. When you can acknowledge what you have done, it is easier to move forwards. Finding a connection to the nameless place within yourself, it will speak so softly at first. But if you listen to it, follow it, the connection will become more clear.

This teacher training is not merely a certification to teach yoga, but truly a deepening of practice and in understanding of what yoga truly means to you. It will force you to look at parts of yourself that you have avoided, and to make choices about those parts. Regardless of whether you want to teach or not, this training will drive your practice inwards, creating the opportunity to begin to truly know yourself, the light and the shadow. You will be welcomed into a community of teachers and friends that will support you with every step you take.

This training, and yoga itself, is so transformative. Like Ganesha, we may always feel like there are parts of our lives we wish had been different, we may feel like parts of ourselves are broken and dark. But by facing them, sitting with them, we can learn to accept those things and they can transform into the very tools that empower us. Those broken places can become the places from which we can offer unique knowledge, support, and healing.

More than anything, this training has made one thing very clear to me: I feel less need to hide the parts of myself that I have never shown, never told. I believe in scars, in guilt, in shame, and that there is a lot of darkness that has lived inside of me since the day I was born. I believe this darkness will never leave me, and is not meant to. I believe this darkness is now a space to find light, or create it myself. I believe in transformation. I believe in forgiveness. I believe in becoming whole, and that we all have this power. This is what magic is to me now.