(4 minute read plus a recipe!)
Emily at the end of her Yoga Teacher Training
In 2017, Emily Biasotto decided that she would complete part of her studies at the University of St Andrews in St Andrews, Scotland, embarking on a number of European adventures at the same time. While she studied and travelled, she captured her experiences and reflections; she left no experience wasted. As I followed her stories, I was inspired by her truth, her strength and her insight. Her words energised me.
Today, Emily is our guest blogger. She shares her reflections of courage with us … as well as a recipe for Mum’s Teacake. I hope you are as energised by her stories as I am.
In Emily Biasotto’s words …
What do think of when you think of courage? What immediately comes to mind?
I think red and gold, lions and Russell Crowe in Gladiator. Courage to me has always been this very tough, hard, yang concept. It’s the metaphorical sword and shield we take with us to combat life.
Recently however, I’ve noticed that courage needn’t be hard and forceful.
Actually, courage can be extremely soft and yielding. It can be the total opposite of carrying a sword and shield. It can mean putting them down and then stripping away all the armour so all that is left is you. You, with no protection. You, completely vulnerable.
In March, I completed my Yoga Teacher Training. Each day was filled with meditation, asana, practice teaching, practice assisting and personal inquiry.
To really get something out of the total immersion that is an intensive 200 hour YTT, you can’t be all Russell Crowe in the arena. No, you have to let all the armour come off. And that’s what I had to do.
It’s a shame, because I spent so long crafting such excellent masks and protective layers. I mean, those things take a lot of work. And then suddenly, or at least after a few days and a bit of probing, I realised that if I actually want to get anything truly meaningful out of life, then those layers are just not going to fly.
As I write this, I’m visualising this teacake that my mum makes. It’s probably my favourite. What I’m also seeing is this cake, wrapped in about six layers of Glad Wrap, followed by a few layers of foil and then sealed in a tin box that can’t be opened. While the commitment to preservation is remarkable, in my experience, this cake is really only good on the day it’s baked. And by trying to shield the cake, you miss out on how bloody good it is.
Similarly, the good stuff within us is underneath all the layers we have constructed for ourselves.
And I’m not here to say that the layers aren’t necessary, because I know that for me, at some point, they totally were. The problem is that some of them (actually, probably most of them) have gotten a bit stuck and I continue to carry them around even though they no longer serve me. They start to be more of a hindrance than a help.
As an example, during the training, it came up that I’ve spent most of my life feeling like I am alone. It’s my top limiting belief. Like I’m the only human on Earth feeling the things I feel, the only one who can help me do the things I want to do. Like I have no-one to turn to.
There have of course been times when I have actually been alone and needed to live from that space. My first day of Prep, when in a moment of confusion and excitement, my best friend and I were separated; during my travels last year when anyone I knew was a significant distance away; when I used to row in the single scull and I’d sometimes need to coach myself. I was definitely alone.
After a few days of some serious journaling, being with my fellow teachers in their moments of vulnerability and then being vulnerable myself, I understood.
I’m actually not alone. None of us are alone. Because everyone has felt the things that I have felt. Because everyone says the kind of stuff I say to myself that I’d never say to another person. Because at some point, everyone feels alone. How ironic that we are actually with each other in that space of feeling alone.
It’s important to note here that none of this discovery would have been possible without dropping the masks. Without slipping out of the layers. And upon reflection, that took a lot of me.
It took a lot of me because the primary reason I have all these layers is because I am so scared to be seen exactly as I am and exactly as I am not. Because if I’m actually seen, who’s to say that people won’t think I’m crazy and run the other way? Guess where I will be then? Alone.
But here’s the irony of this whole situation: having the courage to shed the layers and be seen is what makes and strengthens connections. It’s by dropping it all that we find out that we are not alone.
Think about a time when someone has been really real with you. When they’ve let you see them exactly as they are and exactly as they are not. How much more do you love them for it? In my experience, a lot.
So why am I so sure that they wouldn’t in a million years feel the same for me? Of course they might not vibe with me at all. Maybe they will run the other way. But am I going to sit here in the Glad Wrap and foil and tin and deny myself the possibility and opportunity to create love and connection? Hell no!
The thing to remember is that the world needs each of us exactly as we are. We don’t need to be anything we are not and not be anything that we are.
So break open that tin, carefully unravel the foil and Glad Wrap (so that you can reuse them!) and get to the good stuff inside. It is scary but my goodness, is it worth it.
(the ever-trusty Women’s Weekly Cinnamon Teacake)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
1/3 cup milk
15g butter, melted, extra
1 tablespoon castor sugar, extra
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Grease a deep 20cm round cake pan, line base with paper; grease paper.
Cream butter and essence in a small bowl with an electric mixer, gradually add sugar, then egg, beat until light and creamy. Stir in sifted flour and milk, beat until smooth. Spread into prepared pan, bake at moderate oven for about for about 25 minutes. Stand 2 minutes before turning on to wire rack brush with extra butter, sprinkle combined extra sugar and cinnamon.
Keeping time: 1 day.
If you’d like to connect with Emily, you can at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or @embiasotto (instagram). She takes yoga classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights at 7:30pm at 3rd Space Health Clubs (380 Balwyn Road, North Balwyn). She also takes private classes if that might work better for you!
By the way, I got a chance to taste the tea cake made by Emily – yum! I also got to take a piece or two home. #grateful