I wrote this a while ago, but all this Olympic excitement moved me to share it again. I hope you find it inspiring.
I’m remembering when I was 14 and on the swim team. We would get motivational speakers in sometimes, and they would tell us about setting goals, and how the human spirit is able to accomplish so much more than we give it credit for. They talked about how most people only use 10% of their potential. I really took that to heart and started to wonder what I could achieve.
My coach told me that there was a spark in me, that I had something special. He believed in me. He told me I could do whatever I wanted. I decided that what I wanted to was make the national qualifying time so I could go to nationals that year; I wrote the qualifying time down on a piece of paper and put it up on my mirror. It was about 4 seconds faster than my personal best and, as such, a seemingly unreachable goal for a sprint event.
As we were stretching on the morning of provincials, I said to my team mates, “I’m going to make nationals today.” They laughed at me and said that it wasn’t even possible. But I knew they were wrong. I knew I was going to do it.
I could feel that spark my coach said I had, it was mine, and it was real, and I was going to do it. When it came time for my event I went deep into that spark. I let it out. And I took about two seconds off my best time in heats and came in second place. Only two more seconds to go. I knew in finals I would do it. The girl who was in first place was my nemesis, and she was intimidating me intentionally, trying to psych me out. I realize now that her actions actually helped me: she pushed me to dive deep and extract my spark.
I knew I was going to beat her, and even my coach had told me before the heat that I could do it. It was a magical race, really. I went into the zone so hard. I don’t even really remember being all that physically tired, I think I won that race by mental power alone. I came in a few hundredths of a second faster than the time on my piece of paper, and made my national qualifying time. Later that year I got to go to Belgium and swim for Canada. At the seven nations meet, I came in second place. I achieved the impossible.
When I was 16 I started getting sexually harassed by another member of the team, and that same year I plateaued. There was a mind virus going around that convinced you there was a wall, a barricade, past which you could progress no further. I realize now that the trauma caused by the harassment was the crack that let the mind virus in. Slowly I started to believe that I couldn’t make the Olympic team. It was too out of reach.
Some more trauma happened, more cracks formed, more viruses got in, and the cycle continued. I slowly forgot about that spark my coach had told me about. I was believing the mind viruses, and slowly they took over my world.
Years later, when I got into yoga and heard about enlightenment, I felt that spark stir from deep inside. I remembered that spark, and it was still in there.
When I was 19 I had the opportunity to go to Africa with my family and do some volunteer work. Right before I left, I met a women who was to be my first spiritual teacher. She said she saw a spark in me, she said I was refreshing for her, and that she knew I was going to do something really great. My spark stirred again.
When I was in Africa I had several mystical experiences. There was something about that land and those people that re-ignited me. When I came back home a modelling agency offered me a lead role in a made-for-TV movie. I flashed back to the swim team and the heavy energy that surrounded me in those years, and I felt that same energy around the set. So I turned it down, knowing I needed to stay on track, feed my spark, and follow the yoga thing. I started my teacher training program a few months later.
Over the next 20 years I worked on healing those cracks. Each time a crack would heal, the mind virus living in there would fizzle out. The other night I read an article about how nothing matters because you don’t really exist. I realized this was a mind virus that I had once bought into. I could see the exact crack it had gotten into. When I healed that crack, I could see, quite clearly, the virus that had been snuffing the spark. And now the spark is free to say; this DOES matter, YOU matter, THIS PLANET matters.
I saw that as the trauma cracks get healed, the voice of doubt stops working. It’s like when you get the chicken pox once, you don’t get it again later. Getting cracked, exposed to mind viruses, and then healing it, creates an immunity.
I started to realize that it’s not about *what* happens to you in your life, it’s about how you *use* the events that happen to you. The situations that are hard, traumatic, or painful can be used for healing cracks, for finding and diving deep into your spark, and for developing more immunities for future challenges.
I can see the spark now clear as day. I learned when I was 14 that when you tell people what your spark is here to ignite, they will either fan it with you, or try to put it out. I can also see that those who seek to snuff it are infected with viruses, they believe them and it’s not really their fault. But I don’t have to listen to them. And I can also heal the cracks in me that would make me vulnerable to those viruses. Even when I do get infected, which I still sometimes do… I can heal the crack, and create a new immunity.
It is so important to feed your spark. Whatever your spark is here to ignite, you can do that. I want to fan your spark for you. No: I want to fan your spark WITH you. I hope you shine as bright as you want to shine, because your spark is the most beautiful thing there is to see.
P.S. This photo was taken of my while I was in Africa when I was 19. I keep it on my fridge to remind me of my spark.