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It started off like this:

God I love this word.  I love it because it really does mean a lot to me. When I started looking at all the relationships I have in my life, the one thing that kept coming up for me was integrity.  Integrity is so important.  So I had to ask myself, why?  Why is it so important?  Why am I holding this word so dear to my heart? 

When I looked it up online, it said: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.

And this one said:  the state of being whole and undivided.

Alright, well maybe I can get behind the state of being whole and undivided.  But from what?  From whom?  And what does honest or strong moral principles mean anyway?  Isn’t that a judgment call?  Who says who has strong moral principles anyway? Who’s in charge? 

I personally like my definition better:  The state of being when your thoughts, words and deeds are in alignment with your soul’s highest purpose and potential.

That’s a huge statement I know, however I do believe it to be true.   And it got me thinking… okay, if that’s true, how often are we really in integrity?  I mean, really?  How many times do we fall out of integrity with our deeds, our words or even our thoughts?  Because you have to look at your thoughts too … it’s starts there.

I’ve been witness to many people just in this yoga community, out of integrity.  So much it makes me laugh!  I’ve been witness to some of my own thoughts and I’ve had to say, “Wow… really?  How can I think that? So not in my realm of being!”  It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

And in that moment, when I fall our of integrity, instead of judging myself and saying, “Oh shit, I must not be a yogi, I just had a impure thought!”, I breathe and say, “Hm, where did that thought come from?” 

Because that is the work.  Noticing when you fall out of integrity and then finding your way back in, and quickly.  We all fall out of integrity and let me tell you, if you think you don’t, think again.  That one act, that one word, that one thought; that’s all it takes.

And then I had a moment where my own integrity was in question.  And it wasn’t about anything I was outwardly doing that was in question.  No, in fact, it was how I was compromising my own integrity and standards for my own self, for my soul.  It was an issue with how I was allowing myself to be treated which was less than I felt I was worth.

You see, I have always had an issue with wanting to make everyone happy.  Always wanting peace and connection to prevail.  Wanting a community that sings together, plays together, and hangs out together.  And I always found that in the yoga community regardless of any city I live in or travel to.  The yoga community is hands down, the place to land no matter what; it’s my tribe for sure.

This move to California has proven time and again to be the right decision. However, I must admit finally, that I personally have been tested on my commitment to integrity to my own soul.  I allowed things to happen in my own life, compromised my ideals, and neglected my personal boundaries for the sake of making it happen in my life. For the promise of feeding my kids, finding a suitable home, and getting ourselves in a place that was safe, secure and lovely to come “home” to.

Yes I did that and I know I am not the only one that has. 

You do that when you’re a parent I think.  You give up a part of yourself for the sake of what you think is important.  And I did just that.  I allowed myself to be treated in a way that was less than my soul deserved and I did it for a long time because the fulfillment I received from the yoga community more than made up for anything I was “giving away”.  I always felt loved and connected to every single person who walked through the Yoga Tree Corte Madera and made connection with me. 

But giving even a smidgen away of your self, your ideals, what you think you deserve will always come back to haunt you.  And it has and I can no longer allow it or hold space for it.

Yoga Tree Corte Madera closing has made me so very sad.  It’s what brought me here. It was my out, my wings, my chance and what I did with that honestly, is nothing short of f***ing amazing.  Because I believe I did as much as I could on integrity.

Never once did I shoot someone in the foot, lie, cheat or steal to get what I wanted.  Quite the contrary … I didn’t stand up for myself enough.  And now I am.

As much as I would like to stay at Yoga Tree Corte Madera until August 30 when they close the doors, I must leave now, after this Sunday’s class.  There are stories behind closed doors that do not need re-telling, only a blessing and goodbye.  And an “I hope to see you on the mat somewhere else where I teach.”

I have loved every minute of my time in Marin and now I must move on.  Here’s a bit more on integrity …

So then I started thinking about the fact that we are all doing this.  All of us! And we’re not trying to be mean or vindictive, we are just being human.  So if we are all doing it, wouldn’t it be nice if we all just kinda, held some space for each other to be human?

I mean, I enjoy living the perfectly imperfect life.  It keeps me off the hook and I get to tend to my own “side of the street” instead of worrying about what everyone else is doing. 

For whatever reason, we all fall out of integrity.  We all think a nasty thought, say something that’s not so nice, and perhaps act in a way that is not in alignment with our soul.  All of us!

So … and … now what?  Take a breath, smirk or smile, try not to judge yourself but do explore the why behind that momentary shift in consciousness.  Because it’s a trigger for you to go deeper, to discover the root of why you would fall out of integrity.  There’s a deeper meaning so explore that.  And then notice it the next time it happens, because it will, and just do your best to do it different next time.   And then remember, everyone else is trying to play this game of Life, so hold some space would ya’?

My reason for falling out of integrity was fear.  Of not being enough.  Of not being able to make it on my own.  Of not being accepted as I was … weird isn’t it?  The games our minds play.

So I say this … I hold no judgment, no remorse, no regret, no guilt and no resentment…. Only deep, deep gratitude for:

The opportunity
The community
The connection
The courage
The energy
Tim and Tara Dale
My life
The lessons
My tribe

But mostly, I am grateful for the exploration into the why.  Because what I learned is that I am enough, I am doing it on my own and I am acceptable to myself just as I am, in this moment.  Just as I am.  

By Dana Damara

“My passion on the mat is proper alignment, powerful breath and effortless flow so you feel that off your mat. Your practice becomes sacred space where you arrive to find more meaning, depth, authenticity and integrity in your life."

- Dana Damara: mother, author, yoga instructor, speaker and yogini.

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