Enough: By Guest Blogger Octavia Raheem

When the staff at lululemon athletica, the Lenox store, approached me about co-teaching at what we would later call 10th and Flow, a big outdoor yoga event at Piedmont Park in Atlanta my response was a resounding yes. Yes. Of course YES!

I started to vision it.

As “the day” dawned closer I began to question myself.  A menacing and urgent voice began to whisper a deep bellied “no”. I kicked that voice straight in its fifth chakra.

Yogis in the Community Neda (left) & Octavia (right). Photo by Julien Photography.

But then that “no” re-fashioned itself (sneaky thing), and showed up as a well-dressed and enlightened intruder who needed to ask (just) a few questions:

Did they really mean to ask you? Is this a mistake? Maybe you’re a mistake. What if they all hate it? Who are they? Why did you say yes?

Photo by Julien Photography

Is it too late to say no?  Who are you to teach___________, _____________, and ______________? (Fill in space with any teacher or student in our city with more experience than you have.)

I got a little closer to this intruder and listened more diligently until I heard my own voice.

Is this about fear? About not believing I am enough in this moment just as I am?

::Silence::

That question, “am I enough” has haunted me in love, work, and beyond for as long as I can remember. That question has stood on my shoulders at all my graduations, moments of “recognition”, parties, and events, even my own wedding. I fight with that question often, lest it led me into situations that insult my soul, heart, and vision. Unwelcome, it sometimes unrolls its mat beside mine as I start to lead a yoga class. It becomes a mantra as I sit to meditate. It seems to sign up for all the “advanced” teacher trainings, retreats, and workshops I attend or lead. It’s there and over dressed when I meet new people. Sometimes it outlines the shape of my reflection when I look in the mirror.  Am I enough? Here it was, solidly positioning itself against me being a part of this community event, a burden continuing to round my shoulders, a fist relentlessly pounding into my chest.

The day of 10th and Flow it rained. Not a small drizzle, but a serious down pour. We set up the park any way. We went to the park anyway. We all changed our Facebook statuses to “Rain or shine we are flowing- any way”.

And the rain danced in and on. Uninvited. Unapologetic.

We were sopping wet. I couldn’t remember the sequence I had planned. Thirty or so minutes before start time plan B kicked in, we were moved in to the ballroom of The Park Tavern.

The room was humid. Downstairs there was a bar…A bar with live music.

“The ceilings looked like they were 1,000 feet tall. It was beautiful inside though. I could see that. But, how would anyone speak in here? How would anyone hear anything? Still, 200 plus people packed in.”

The sound truck packed up when the rain really started to pour, so there were no microphones. The ceilings looked like they were 1,000 feet tall.  It was beautiful inside though. I could see that. But, how would anyone speak in here? How would anyone hear anything? Still, 200 plus people packed in.

In the midst of it all- that dirty question “Am I enough?” did not wash out with the rain. It did not slip off my shoulders or slow the battering against my heart.

Above the muffled sound of the bar below and beneath the eminence of the sky, we started with one trembling, yet reverent Om.

Todd and Neda taught the first and second part of the class while I sweated and wandered through the sea of people, waiting and stretching my ears to hear.

I was still questioning my “enoughness”, but slowly opening to the realness of the moment. Marveling at how the best-made plans had been made almost irrelevant.

Todd brought everyone into child’s pose. My cue to begin. Instead of starting my instructions right then, I waited. I waited long enough for the noise below us to stretch out on top of us. Long enough for the rain to drum against the windows of our ears a little more. Long enough for that question of “enough” to lean in to me more firmly. For it to get even more square and tall on my shoulders. I let that monstrous question get big enough for me to have to see all of it. I let it become Goliath.

I waited long enough for me to have to hear something bigger than all the static of questioning, posing, preparing, and buzzing.

Photo by Julien Photography

I waited so that I would have to acknowledge how we were soaked, damp, packed in tight, and made to get closer than expected or convenient. To acknowledge how there was no sound equipment or places to plug in. No stage to make my 5 foot 1 frame stand taller. No microphone to amplify my voice. Nothing to prop/hold/boost me up against my fear. Nothing for me to hide behind and pretend that I was enough.

I waited long enough to unpack my fear and see it fully in the room. Then I did the only thing I knew to do. I did the thing I do in the presence of all of my greatest teachers.

I bowed. Slow. Deep. Heavy tears in my eyes. I bowed.

When I lifted my head. I opened my mouth and words, fierce and true, flew out. Something deep in side me began to rise.

And one giant began to fall.

That day, acknowledging, bowing, and rising was the answer.

Yes, I am enough.

>More amazing photos from 10th and Flow by photographer Perry Julien!

4 Comments

  1. This moved me to tears. I admire and respect your honesty and courage for putting your fears and doubt out for the world to see. I was unable to make 10th & Flow but look forward to the day I can take one of your classes. All the best – Carolina

  2. Octavia, your talents are endless and I always enjoy your writing. Thank you for sharing your inner most thoughts as we can all relate. xo, Michelle

  3. Wow! Beautiful piece. It’s amazing how I landed right here. A series of random clicks landed me on this blog and right into your guest post. The message I needed you delivered, beautifully. Thank you Octavia..

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