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A dose of my own medicine

Friday, June 25, 2010 by Marianne Elliott

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This morning I was talking to Marissa Bracke. She is an unmitigated delight, by the way, and I’m thrilled to be working with her.

Anyway, she mentioned to me that her friend Pam Slim also talks about this idea that I’m always banging on about – the idea that we each have our own unique way of being of service in the world. Pam has a wonderful metaphor for this truth.

Pam says that we each have our unique medicine for the world.

Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t it powerful?

Imagine how your life might be different if you really believed that. If you believed that your life up to this moment, and everything about who you are in this moment, constitute the ingredients for a potent and entirely unique medicine for what ails the world.

The best part is that this only works if we really include everything that makes up who we are in this moment. Not just the parts that we think are admirable, or beautiful or presentable, but also the parts that we generally think we need to keep out of the public eye.

Because here’s how I think it works…

Caveat: I’m about to use a metaphor which may not be entirely medically accurate. If this bugs you, please accept my apologies in advance. I still love the metaphor

I believe that we each develop our own unique medicine in the same way that a vaccine works, through being exposed to the pathogen.

As a yoga teacher my particular medicine in the medicine of kindness. I teach the power of entering into a new relationship with our bodies and ourselves grounded in kindness. Kindness is the medicine I have to offer.

How did I get this medicine?

I got it by repeatedly exposing myself to the pathogen of self-criticism. I can’t say that I recommend this, but for some of us it is pretty much unavoidable. Like in a vaccination, I was exposed to the pathogen and my immune system developed ways of responding. My unique medicine has grown directly out of my own ‘weakness’, my own ‘shadow’.

I also think that we find the medicine that we need. The people who need your particular kind of medicine will be drawn to you. As a yoga student I found myself drawn to teachers who had just the right kind of medicine for what ailed me.

Now, as a teacher, over and over again I hear my students describing the challenges they are encountering in their practice and they are exactly the challenges I have encountered in my own practice.

This might be what some people call finding your ‘right people’. I find it very liberating. I don’t have to worry too much about whether everyone will love my 30 days of yoga. I can just trust that the people who are drawn to me will be the people who need my kind of medicine.

If you think that you could do with a shot of kindness, especially when it comes to your relationship to your body, then my course is probably for you. If you don’t think kindness is what you need, well I’d love to give you a big hug because I’m convinced that we all need kindness, but I’m also more than cool with the fact that my course might not be for you.

I also find it liberating to be reminded that I don’t need to be ‘perfect’ to be of service. My medicine, my unique way to be of service, has grown and continues to grow out of those very parts of me that I tend to think of as less than perfect.

I’m also always up for a dose of my own medicine!

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21 Responses to "A dose of my own medicine"

  1. Alex says:

    Bravo! I love this post! It is a great way to think about what we have to offer and I will most definitely keep that insight in mind. Thanks for sharing and for introducing me to Marissa. I’ve been reading her blog since we talked the other day, and I totally love her work and voice. Happy to know you are working with her! xo

  2. ” I don’t have to worry too much about whether everyone will love my 30 days of yoga. I can just trust that the people who are drawn to me will be the people who need my kind of medicine. ”

    So true.

    When I first started teaching, I used to worry about people liking me, liking my classes. I used to worry about the people who didn’t come back.

    But now I know those who need my “medicine” will come. Those who don’t will look elsewhere.

    And you’re right. That is liberating!!!

  3. Marianne, I LOVE this metaphor. And I love the idea that our medicine for the world grows out of our trials and our shadows. Definitely food for thought this weekend.

    And your kindness is a wonderful thing.

  4. Swirly says:

    I love this post – the way it encourages me to remember that as long as I am true to myself, the right people will be drawn to my work. This is a a very important thing to keep in mind as I work on new creations in the studio, where the gremlins looooove to come in and try to pester me!

  5. Emma says:

    Beautifully written and so lovely to consider. xo

  6. Yuki says:

    Marianne, this post is beautiful, and I’m so relieved and blessed to be able to start my day with it. Yes, yes, we are drawn to YOU, not just any yoga. As proof, I have a regular yoga practice now that no one could ever get me to do before. I feel myself healing with your medicine. And I give enormous thanks.

  7. Kimberley says:

    Love the metaphor. I’m in the process letting layers lift and unfold to find my medicine for the world. I could definetely use your course! It’s on my wish list for after July.

    • Marianne Elliott says:

      Kimberly, I hope you can do the course. It all about moving towards a kind, mindful relationship with ourselves – body, mind and spirit.

      Yuki – it has a been a blessing for me to get to know you! I guess that’s further evidence of what happens when we allow ourselves to be seen as we are and trust that the right people will find us attractive in all our humanness…

      Emma – when you tell me that something is beautifully written then I know that I am on the right track. Maybe even finding my voice, finally! x

      Christine – Yes, my friend, yes. The gremlins love to pester us when we are making something new and brave. But look how we found each other, we will find our right people, when we are brave enough to show our real faces. x

  8. [...] am taking a dose of my own medicine, to take a lesson from Marianne. I can’t remember the number of times I have told friends and loved ones “If you [...]

  9. SusanJ says:

    This is such a glorious metaphor, and you unwrapped it beautifully!

    Thanks to you and Pam and Marissa for the alchemy of inspiration. = >

  10. Jamie says:

    Actually, that is medically accurate. When we’re exposed to pathogens, our immune system develops ways of responding to them but *especially* of noticing that they are a problem early, which is most of the battle. So you’ve learned to notice what is a problem.

    And while to vaccinate other people, we would technically have to start injecting unkindness into them, you can say that in this case you’re sharing immunoglobulin – the resistance your own body has already built up. That’s your medicine. You distill it from your own blood, your own essence.

    This brought to you by a Microbiology class in which I will admit I only got a B+.

  11. Alexandra says:

    The best medicine I give to myself these days is really taking big steps towards clearing my days to follow my real life passion. And I think the best medicine others give often is doing the same in their lives because that inspiration -and courage – becomes contagious.

  12. Reed says:

    Bravo Marianne! Love this post, especially the idea of the vaccine. Personally, I have gentleness towards others because I am (or traditionally have been) so ungentle with myself.

    Also the idea of medicine. When I would do scales in piano lessons, my (very amazing) piano teacher would say “these are the medicine”. You might think of them as the asanas of music.

    ( In keeping with your disclaimer above, Forgive me for any metaphor problems that come from being not a specialist in Yoga)

    Love following you on twitter! keep up the good work.

    • Marianne Elliott says:

      Thanks Reed! I like the idea of scales and asana as medicine too. Taking a dose of my own medicine in that form too…

  13. This is brilliantly put. I love what you say about owning our full experience as all integral parts of our medicine for the world. One of my all time favorite quotes is: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deepest gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet” by Frederick Buechner. Your post reminds me that my best service to the planet is to be the best version of myself and develop my medicine from my foibles and shadows. Thank you.

    • Marianne Elliott says:

      Beautiful quote Kate – ‘where your deepest gladness and the world’s deepest hunger meet’ – that’s a juicy place.

  14. Peter says:

    Beautiful post, Marianne!

  15. Lisa says:

    Great post!

    You are SO right.

    Thank you :-)

  16. [...] Remember when I said that I think we each have our very own kind of medicine for the world? And we make our medicine by learni… [...]

  17. […] remember by brushing up against our own wounds – by drawing the medicine that comes from tending our own wounds. By doing the work every day. By making peace with ourselves and others. By practicing […]

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