Hi, I'm Pam.
During my first trip to India, while leaving the temple, someone told me to ring the bell to awaken the god within. What? A god lives inside me? Yes. This god is the essence of each and every one of us, the authentic self, the soul. It wants to be known, heard and loved. I rang the bell so hard that the sound reverberated through my entire being, kicking off profound life changes. My journey has been about awakening what is already inside of myself. Interested to know more? Read on.
The early years pretty much followed the rules that society set-up. It went something like this – studied hard, got good grades, went to university, had a great career, got married, got divorced, went to therapy, started to question - What the hell is this life about?
From the outside, I had it all. A stable career at a top management consulting firm in NYC. A materialistic life with all those things we think bring us joy. Beneath all of this was a restlessness. My friends, red wine and cigarettes were with me most nights. Addictive self-soothing activities became my favorite pastime.
I learned a lot of things the hard way, stayed way too long in situations that were not working for me and refused to listen to those gut feelings. I lived each day by reacting to life and did very little to reign in my chattering mind and balance my out-of-whack nervous system.
I didn’t do anything, since I didn’t know how.
A little after my 40th year on this earth, I fell on my face after a night of too many martinis. Nine stitches said hello to me every morning as I looked in the mirror. My soul screamed, “Enough”.
One good thing about falling on your face is that the only next place to go is up. I broke all the rules, quit the job and went to India. Rules were never my cup of tea anyways.
Atha yoganushasanam -
Now we start yoga
Graduation day for Yoga Teacher Training in Rishikesh, India May 2014
I could sit here and tell you about how I left my job, ventured off to India to ‘find’ myself and how I lived happily ever after. But that would be a lie.
The truth is walking the spiritual path is not all about happiness and peace. Yes, these moments are integral parts of the journey. But, the reality is the path is about confusion, unhappiness and not knowing all the answers.
It is about developing the tools to handle life’s ups and downs, to be resilient regardless of the situation. It is about being comfortable with feeling unhappy and learning to love confusion and the unknown.
What I learned along the way is confusion is a good thing. When we are confused, we say, I don’t know. Then we keep searching and trying. We become an open book and learn to say yes to whatever comes our way.
Spirituality is a way of life where everything I do, say and think is a tool to help me cultivate awareness. With awareness, I can better separate from my thoughts and emotions.
With awareness, we become less reactive. When we react less, we are more in control of how we show up and how we respond to life.
All these intense yogic practices did help me feel more calm, joyful, self-aware and more connected to life. I noticed that things that used to bring me down for months, well, they just kind of disappeared. Plus my two friends, red wine and cigarettes packed up their bags and moved away.
But then the intense practices turned on me to teach another lesson. I thought I was becoming more ‘enlightened' by the day. Who was I kidding?
In comes the infamous ego, that part of us that thinks we are in control. I pushed harder and harder demanding long hours in meditation. Only to be knocked down again and again. Why?
Let me share with you a secret. You don't find happiness by doing, you become happiness by being. This requires to slowdown enough to cultivate awareness.
When you are more aware, you start to notice, when you notice what works for you and what does not, then life starts to transform.
The heart opens in ways you cannot imagine. Then we step into the world and the real work begins. Yoga becomes a walking around, living life and doing stuff practice.
Eventually the 'union' is understood. The path is about connection. Connecting to everyone and everything around you in a way that you realize we are all the same.
Believe in something
The purpose of life is to find that which is eternal within ourselves. Then we know deep happiness.
Let's start at the beginning
Presenting at the New York Stock Exchange in April 2013
They say we start yoga once we’ve exhausted everything else. We might feel stressed and decide to join a yoga class, since we heard it helps us feel more peaceful.
Yoga is a process of unraveling who you think you are. At the beginning it is about stretching, attempting to stand on your head and twisting into a pretzel. Eventually you realize that something is happening at a deeper level.
It took almost fifteen years from my first yoga class to muster up the courage to leave the job and start to change my lifestyle.
When I first started yoga classes, I would leave early to avoid the final relaxation pose. One day, I decided to stay until the end. Something started to change as I longed for that peaceful and relaxed feeling. I started to notice my breath as it moved in and out of me.
Eventually I figured out the real reason why I did yoga. I wanted to be less impacted by what was going on around me. Somehow I intuitively knew the only way out of this mess was to turn inward.
The spiritual journey took me straight to the source - India - the land of the mystics, gurus, saints and sages.
In hindsight, my Type A tendencies shifted from a corporate job to yoga. Our personality does not fall away so easily. I signed up for every program I could and completed all of them as fast as possible.
I completed a Yoga Teacher Training program, froze in cold monasteries, slept at the base of sacred mountains, did countless yoga and meditation retreats and sat in silence for weeks with little food. I studied with remarkable teachers in India and Nepal.
I did everything you can imagine. Why? All to be free. From what? I didn’t really know. But I had faith that something beyond myself was working for my best interest. That there was a way to exist in this world in a joyful, peaceful and harmonious state.
Eventually, I realized that we are not really our thoughts and emotions. Nor are we confined to our body. We are so much more. This realization is what sets us free.
Before I share more of this story with you, I have to be honest about something.
The elusive spiritual path
Connection with Indian wedding party in Rajasthan, March 2019
Do you believe in happily ever after?
Happily ever after does exist, but we don’t need to wait until the end of the story to have it. We need to find it for ourselves, right now, and not rely on anyone or anything outside of ourselves to make us happy.
True happiness is internal peace that can be felt regardless of what is happening around you. We can all have this. It is our birthright and comes when we do the work.
Walking the spiritual path is about saying you want to take control of your life, you are not satisfied with the way you are living and want to make changes.
The real journey of life starts when you reach the breaking point.
To break free from your pain and suffering you start to learn more about who you are, why you do what you do and you develop the power to make changes that will help you to become the person you want to be.
The entry point to this journey is to turn inward. It requires stillness, silence and a lot of courage to really look at yourself.
In all my years of travel and running around the world, searching for happiness, something happened.
On a street corner in India, a complete stranger came up to me and whispered, "You didn't have to come all the way to India to find peace....it exists only within yourself."
This is true for all of us.
Life is not a problem to solve, but a mystery to embrace. Each piece is like a puzzle that we slowly put together to create the beautiful picture of our life.
Experience is the real teacher. I learned more during study abroads in college than I did in the classroom. But since we like to know about educational background, here it is.
MBA and BSBA, International Business and Marketing
Certified Holistic Health Coach, Institute for Integrative Nutrition
Rishikesh Yog Peeth 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training
Introductory Ayurvedic Living- Rishikesh, India
Breath Coach Teacher Training, Yoga Teacher’s College
What I offer to you is over 20 years of real life experience on finding ways to live a more balanced life with harmony, happiness and acceptance.
Traditional education systems teach us that we should know all the answers so we can appear to be really smart. What I learned along the way is that confusion is a good thing.
If we don’t know, then we keep on searching and keep on trying. Once we think we know everything, then we are a closed book and will be stuck where we are.
Seeking for ways to live a more enjoyable life where we are less impacted by all the noise is something that we can continue to do the rest of our lives. Start now and enjoy the journey.