The only true currency in this bankrupt world… is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool. –Almost Famous

I recently received an email and a phone call from an old neighbor, Sam, that I lived next door in my early twenties. He called me recently, because he had heard about me and the guidance and service I had been offering to his friend through my teachings on yoga. She would often speak of her teacher and friend, DAH-ni. Sam had the image of this tall, ethnic, beauty, as she would always pronounce my name DAH-ni, instead of Dani. Many weeks later, intrigued by the transformation he was witnessing, he wanted to learn more, so he hopped onto our studio website and began perusing the pages. Sam came to the page with my picture and said, “That’s not DAH-ni that’s DAAAAni!” “She was my neighbor!” She’s not the enlightened person you spoke about. She works out like a maniac and her boyfriend, wanna-be rock star, is allergic to weeds. (Here all this time I thought we were pretty cool.) Ahhh, I remember Sam too and the nights my, then boyfriend, Chris would be running around our home shutting windows trying to quiet the sound of Sam karaoking, in his wavering falsetto, to Sarah Mclachlan tunes at the top of his lungs. I secretly loved listening to the tone-def crooning, though. It comforted me, as it was a sound you wouldn’t expect to hear in the middle of our not-so-safe neighborhood, and an affirmation that I was not alone in my “un-coolness”.
As Sam was telling me how he came to realize it was the same person that lived next door, but with a new spark, and about his own spiritual awaking over the years, I couldn’t help but drift into thought, over the mispronunciation of my name and the synchronicity of the new name given to me by one of the Swamis (Renunciate like a nun or a monk) at the Ashram last month. She donned me with the name Vani (pronounced VAH-ni) comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “eloquent in words”, relating to music, “sound, or voice”.
HMMM Vani, DAH-ni. Interesting. I am not certain if I have embodied these qualities fully, but I do know that I have embraced my inner, taller ethnic beauty that is inside this Irish body of mine, and listening to Sam, I realized that he had uncovered something wonderful too, his true nature. Sam I AM.
Most of us in the yoga community feel a little nauseated with how much the word transformation is thrown around these days. In fact, I am making myself a little ill right now. Companies have marketed the term to death to sell products promising that you will forever be changed, which of course has the underlying tone that we are not good enough as we are. Still, if some company bottled it and wrapped it in pretty packaging, I’d probably try it, especially if it came in Ginger.

I can’t speak for Sam, but I am still not any cooler. What has happened through love, life, loss, and most of all my yoga practice, is that I’ve become comfortable in my own skin. For me, yoga has been the process of uncovering what is already there and knowing that I am enough, and that is a very cool realization. Beware of your Svadyaya (Self-Study), one of Niyamas, or “observances” in yoga. Your inner traits may look a little bigger or even a little darker than the corky Irish persona, or whatever you have been hiding behind, but to experience your true nature, is bliss.
This can be a challenging task, when the reality is most of us are afraid to really explore the depth of our souls. It means we have to be OK with the fact that we are not perfect, we have to forgive others, and even scarier, ourselves; we may even have to visit some dark places, before we can fully embrace the light.
When we stop listening to the beliefs that others have put on us about who we are, and especially when we surrender our own misconceptions about who we are, can we begin to experience truth. So dig deep into the sea of you heart, use the tools of yoga, or whatever spiritual practice you have embarked on, to begin to remove the veil of illusion, and walls of separation.
Beginning by stepping out of the story(drama) that has been created, either for you or by you, and forget about your ideas of how you want to be perceived … Then Practice this attitude daily.. Honesty in your mind, Sincerity in your spirit, and a knowing, that you are loved.