"Let nothing dim the light that shines within"
I have been looking at this quote for a few months now; I wrote it up on a blackboard that I have in my kitchen. At first it appealed to me because Maya Angelou is such an inspiring person: ambitious, determined and full of heart, she has achieved so much with her life. I also liked it because the world can be such a difficult place in which to be bravely yourself; to believe in your own worth; and there are so many ways we have of hiding away, of feeling shy or unconfident, that is easy to lose a sense of ourselves as having an inner light, something within us that shines. More recently I have understood that the greatest risk to that inner light is not the world or other people, but ourselves.
How often have you drawn back from smiling at a stranger in the street because you were afraid that they would think you were mad, or would not return your friendliness? Have you ever thought twice about approaching someone you thought was in need because you worried that their response might not be positive? Did you ever stay home instead of going out somewhere because you were too shy, or nervous to attend an event? Have you talked yourself out of something, anything, because it wasn't really worth it, or it was too expensive, or difficult, when the truth was that you didn't think you were worthy of it? I know that I have done all of these things.
Life gets complicated and words are such a blunt tool; people hurt us and sometimes we have been embarrassed or ashamed by the things that we have done and other people's response to them. We don't feel good enough or brave enough; it is always easier to believe the bad stuff we hear about ourselves than the good. Perhaps in response to all this we find a way to turn our light a little lower that we might not elicit the approbation of anyone, so that we don't stand out.
But you know how good it is when you come across someone whose inner light radiates freely; how nice it is when they shine their light on you. And your yoga practice, which helps you to remember you own beauty, is not complete unless you share it.
So I entreat you to turn on your lights full beam and to shine in the world and for everyone you meet. I tell you that it matters not one bit if people do not reciprocate, or even if they think you are a bit bonkers for going round with the light shining out of your face. Reciprocation is not the reason why we do it; the sun doesn't ask the moon to shine back on it, it just goes shining on regardless.