“All the wonders you seek are within yourself.” ~Sir Thomas Browne
As history claims, the phoenix began as a common bird that’s nest caught on fire by the hand of a god-like figure. As the fire started to consume the bird, instead of suffering, she decided to dance in the flames.
Eventually, the fire reduced the bird to ashes. However, this was not the end of that wise bird, for she knew her ending was only the beginning—the beginning of something greater than what she ever thought possible, a resurrection.
The seemingly done-for bird emerged, more powerful and more beautiful than ever. The phoenix represents a rebirth. A rebirth of the body, mind, and soul, that unleashes itself when the spirit is set free from its self-inflicted shackles.
I can relate to this story. For a long time I wondered if this fire burning inside me would find its way out and lead me to fulfill my own potential.
With much struggle and countless nights awake, thinking about who I was and what it was that I really wanted to do, I went to University and obtained a business degree. I did this not because I really liked business but because I took the safe route, thinking that this degree would be my best chance of getting a job with a good pay.
Although I received great grades, I was uninspired and lost, and afterward went from job to job and bad relationship to bad relationship, trying to find my way in all the wrong places.
After a devastating breakup I realized that I needed some serious self-work. I asked myself: Why was I continuously looking on the outside for acceptance and fulfillment?
Feeling at my lowest point, I decided I would finally work on what was inside and take a completely different path in order to find myself. I began a yoga teacher training course with a real Indian guru—an 88-year-old man who looked 60 and healthier than I was—who completely changed my outlook and my life.
Skeptical at first by his humble, simplistic studio and easy yoga positions, I pushed on and stayed dedicated. Through practice, I could finally see through all my negative thoughts and constant worries about the past and the future, and just be—be in the present moment.
I was freed of my own mind, and emerged as a more confident, self-loving, and less worrisome person. I was closer than ever to finding the real me, my own inner phoenix, my spirit.
I redirected my thoughts, let go of people and career paths that did not serve my spirit, and embraced these choices as opportunities for growth. I saw it all as a new beginning to put me back on my true path.
Now, instead of seeking answers and acceptance from the outside, I am true to myself and let my own inner voice guide me throughout my life.
I learned that the fulfillment I desperately sought began with passion, regardless of what the passion is.
I realized that my passions always lay in helping others and in the arts, especially music. I decided to join a choir, and to get involved in the community by volunteering at my local YMCA.
I also found a job in a creative arts company and started teaching yoga, along with doing some interior design on the side.
I am now in various shows with the choir around my city, am in more shape because of yoga and my free gym membership at the Y, and have a healthier and happier work-life balance.
You can do something with what you enjoy doing, and it will eventually lead you to a place you never dreamed of. We all owe it to ourselves to put to use our gifts, because that’s why we have them!
Let me tell you a secret about the phoenix: she’s in all of us.
She’s there, just waiting to be unleashed. That fiery feeling inside of us, wanting to change our lives, feeling as though something is missing, this is the pre-condition of a radical change that is naturally starting to occur in your life.
It is the passion within you waiting to be expressed, and ultimately the ending of the old you. Of course, one of the scariest things in life is change, but to embrace change is to embrace life.
To be true to the feeling inside you, urging you to take another road if you are going down the wrong one is to be true to yourself.
How do you act upon this inner change burning inside you? The answer is simpler than you think. Start by more frequently pursuing things that make you happy.
As you move forward, you might start hearing those negative voices inside your head. That is normal and can be helped! Take a yoga class, or simply spend some quiet time alone listening to some soothing music to help clear your mind, and pray.
Pay no mind to others’ opinions, or what others believe to be the right path for you. You can always start small. Sometimes just being a part of what you love can be enough.
I have always wanted to be a singer, and just being able to sing for people within a group fulfills my need.
I always have a need to make a difference in the world, and in my way I am doing so by volunteering for only three hours a week for a cause that I believe in, which to me is payment to my soul.
Eventually doing these things that I loved uplifted me and set me back on my path.
No one can know what truly makes you happy and alive except you. Eventually, your happiness will be enough to make anyone who doubted your choices come around—and your joy will be contagious to them, as well.
Whether it be cooking, decorating, being with animals, or playing music, find a way to awaken that spark within you, and that glow will continue to grow.
Through that growth you will start to awaken the phoenix within you, inspire others to do the same, and become stronger and more self-fulfilled than ever.
Photo by Cameron Russell