November: Shame – Laja

I am enough


I lived in Bali for ten years in a street called Jalan Drupadi. Jalan meaning street in Indonesian and Drupadi (Draupadi) is a female character in the Indian epic poem, The Mahabharata. Draupadi inspires with her story of rising beyond shame.

Draupadi is married to 5 men, the Pandava brothers. This is a daring circumstance even in our modern world. Her plight and life’s work is often credited as the inspiration behind the great battle, the Kurukshetra, described in The Bhagavad Gita, one of Yoga’s most important basic ancient texts.

Draupadi, after refusing to sweep the kings floor, is taken before a court to be punished. Her sari is forcefully removed as a means of inflicting shame. The exposure is considered a serious degradation in old India. The shame of her nakedness ihas suhc dimension that society would have expected Draupadi to commit suicide after such an assault.
Draupadi in the middle of this drama,  begins to meditate and her focus is so powerful that the sari being unwrapped becomes limitless in length as a symbol of her single mindedness. The object of her meditation is the face of her friend, Krishna, who also happens to be the God of Love. Draupadi, an ancient role model for modern women, moved beyond shaming realizing her true essence.

I have been contemplating too. What is shame for me? Contrary to Draupadi’s immense shame, I wanted to focus on daily shame. On what the mind whispers daily into my ear. Shame as it happens in our backyard, every day. One day I’m feeling beautiful or ugly, just right or too skinny, happy or unhappy, shy or confident, comfortable in my own skin or hiding myself away in shame.

Shame for me is my mind telling me, that I’m not enough, that I’m broken, that I somehow don’t fit whilst I compare myself to others. Nobody can create my shame, that shame is created by my mind, my very own thoughts about me, or better what I think is me. And it separates me from myself, which is where yoga comes in – the great “uniter” – as yoga in its Sanskrit root means to connect.

Mark Twain said that if we talked to our children the way we talk to ourselves; we would be arrested for child abuse.

The thing about shame is that, no matter what I do, there is no end to it. There is no end to beauty, intelligence, flexibility, the ability to cook or sing, the list goes on and on. I will always find someone who can do a posture “better”, make a tastier salad dressing or looks more beautiful – in my eyes or better what my mind is telling my eyes. In other words, the nature of the shame is telling me I’m not enough. The yoga shame on the mat is endless: we compare the bodies, judge the yoga outfit evaluate the yoga postures, count how many years and how often in the week we do, with which teacher we practice, which style we follow and which style is “better” …

“My beloved Child, Break your heart no longer. Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart.”

-Swami Kripalu/Vidya Carolyn Dell’uomo


Lets let the yoga studio and our mats be 

a safe haven of self-love, community, compassion and vulnerability. 


From a yogic perspective the only way to confront this, is by finding again and again the core of my being – atman (my individual soul). My true self. The real me is always enough as its eternal, infinite, noble and divine.

“If God could have made me better, then he should have, he would have, but he couldn’t so he didn’t.” Yogi Bhajan

I roll out the mat, I sit there with me, I get quiet, I don’t engage in “fight and flight”, I focus on the breath and I concentrate on the posture. Suddenly there is more than the ego and the voice in my head that tells me I’m ugly, I’m short .. I’m not good enough. I can hear the sound of atman. That deep truth we hear in the yogic scripts over and over again, that we are one, that we are pure, that the energy in me, the energy in you and the divine are the same. Once we connect with that truth, shame runs out the back door and we are free.

Brene Brown, a researcher, author, and professor, tells of an “ah-ha” moment in her work on shame. There was a moment when she noticed there are some individuals who do not suffer from the infliction of shame. She calls these people the whole-hearted.

She studied the group and compiled a list of their shared do’s and don’ts:

“The do column was brimming with words like: worthiness, rest, play, trust, faith, intuition, hope, authenticity, love, belonging, joy, gratitude, and creativity. The don’t column was dripping with words like: perfection, numbing, certainty, exhaustion, self-sufficiency, being cool, fitting in, judgment, and scarcity.”

Brown says, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.”

Last thing I would love to add is what inspired me most about Brene Brown’s research on shame is that:

“Shame cannot survive beig spoken or met with empathy.”

Please go out there, grab a friend, talk to your partner or share it wth your yoga teacher. The power of shame is gone when you break your silence and secrecy.


With love