Let me tell you a story that started many years ago, in a far away land… It’s 2011 and she’s just moved to one of the most exciting cities in the world. If you looked at her, you would know how happy she is. See? She’s in her early thirties and in a great romantic relationship (mmm people in love!). Her job is well-paid and covers all the bills and some more, her yoga practice is solid, her diet is great, and there’s even a tiny cute garden in her apartment’s balcony where she can sit and read. What else could she ask for? She’s so happy, right?

Well… she’s not. Everyone thinks she inhabits a world of happiness but she’s a prisoner of her Shoulds. Oh my, so many Shoulds… She tries really hard to be who she Should be around her friends. Accepted the job everyone though she Should accept. And feels only those feelings she’s supposed to fell. You Should see her: she never gets angry.

And she knows it. She didn’t at first, because achieving all those Shoulds kind of felt great. But not anymore. Now she knows. It’s not like she can put words around it and explain it to others. But trust me, she’s not happy. She can feel something is off… terribly off. But what is it? How can she know? Everything is as it Should. What could be wrong?

She is. She’s the one that’s off. She’s the one that got lost in all those Shoulds and got replaced by a this-is-how-you-are-supposed-to-be version of herself. She can’t see it clearly yet but she can feel it. And it’s eating her inside. And she tries to talk to others as best as she can, but it doesn’t work because, you see, they all think the Shoulds are fine, and she Should just be happy and get over it. She keeps searching, not because she knows what she’s looking for but because there’s really no other choice for her. She’s not ready to give up.

And then, by a stroke of luck, she finds a spark, and a faint light seems to go on inside her and she dives into it. She doesn’t know it yet but this is her first contact with a somatic practice. The first time she’s invited to feel her body, and let me tell you, I can hear her thinking “Sorry, what?? Feel my body? What do you mean? What Should I do?” And her teacher - who’s now her mentor and good friend - sees her, smiles at her, and with infinite patience starts to support and guide her back to herself, through her emotions; back into herself through being present; back into herself through her body… and it takes time, and it takes work, and it takes showing up when it’s hard, and it takes effort, and then, the day you least expect it, the light inside her goes on, and it’s bright, and she’s back.

Well, actually, I’m back. Because now I’m present in me, I’m embodied, and I can live here and now. And all those shoulds, well there’s no space for them in my body now, so they don’t bother me as much, and when they do come back, I go back to my body, to my breath, and I see they are there but not part of me anymore. And then I can breathe. And then I can live and be me. Not the best version of me. Not the right version of me. Not the desired version of me. Just me. As I am now. As I choose to be. As I accept myself to be.

And then my mind goes back to her in 2011. Did she know? Did she make that effort just to save me? Did she commit to it so I could be happy today? I know she did. And I thank her every step of the way.

So now that’s why I do what I do. So others can also beat their Shoulds, make space to breathe and be. And maybe also look back and thanks themselves.