Photo Credit: Vince Fleming, Unsplash.com

Written by Suneeta Kudaravalli
June 26, 2020

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

-Ernest Hemingway

I’ve always been a personal development junkie, wanting to continuously improve. In the last few years I’ve faced many moments that have brought me to the mirror of conscious reflection. In that moment it feels like the bottom’s falling out from beneath you, as you spiral into the unknown. However, with some distance I’ve learned those painful and often confusing moments were nothing short of a blessing. 

It’s not always easy recognizing our own efforts (often expecting more from ourselves), but it’s so important to know your strengths. Regardless of the many high-profile and meaningful projects I supported early in my career, I still felt a nagging sense of “not enough.” I wanted to make a more significant impact but didn’t know how. I trusted my drive, work ethic, and curiosity would lead me to the answer.

As life would have it, this search for more fulfillment was overshadowed by a string of losses that led to the pivotal moments of self-reflection.

I experienced the loss of:

  • satisfaction and meaning in my career
  • a sense of unity in the US
  • my mother
  • connection (to myself and others)
  • sleep
  • balance (enter: burnout)

Throughout this rough patch, I was longing for something more—something deeper, more purposeful, and more aligned. I realized I had to rediscover myself.  This led me to explore yoga, meditation, travel, and ultimately my very first coaching experience.

Beginning the Journey

On my journey of conscious reflection, I was led to Bali—a magical island that holds a special place in my heart. Shortly after the shocking US election, I felt a sense of disharmony. The news of the day was creeping into my sleepless nights, wondering how I was going to show up in what seemed to be a more transactional world filled with fear and hate. Craving to move beyond the superficial, I went to Bali to unwind, be a tourist, soak in the local culture, and attend my first yoga retreat. 

It was a life-changing experience. I met a diverse group of women on a similar path, ate nourishing food, and was ready to embrace yoga with a beginner’s mind. Instead of the physicality of the yoga I’d done in years prior, I was introduced to a spiritual experience—connecting the breath to the body, allowing me to flow through yoga poses with ease, and feel connected to myself again.

It was something I hadn’t felt in a long time (if ever)—the beauty of being fully integrated and immersed in the present moment. 

The essential element that changed my life was learning to meditate on my own for the first time—a uniquely enriching experience, different from guided meditations. I was reconnected to myself and to my prana (or life force energy).

I returned to my corporate job feeling revived with this new tool (superpower, really!) to help sustain me through the inevitable moments of stress to come. Within months, life threw me a curveball with my mom’s declining health and sudden loss. Eventually making meaning in the grief, I found momentum to rediscover my life’s purpose because it was illustrated how truly short life can be. 

I took an intentional pause from a hectic consulting career (hello sabbatical!) to travel to India to spend time with my grandmother and take a yoga teacher training (in Rishikesh—where the Beatles went!). 

I walked away with innumerable life lessons on this introspective journey within; and here are just a few:

  • Lean into life’s obstacles, each one will allow you to expand into a greater version of yourself if you take the time to reflect. 
  • When faced with an obstacle, don’t avoid it or rush to feel better. True healing takes time and courage to look within (beware of overdoing it with technology and work, they can be great distractions from reality).
  • Listen to the inner voice, your soul’s whispers are giving you subtle direction.
  • Take an intentional pause when you feel out of balance.
  • Find ways to reconnect with yourself (for me, yoga and meditation were powerful tools).
  • Focus on the present, the quality of your days are more important than the number of days ahead.
  • Surrender and embrace the unknown, life’s full of surprises.
  • Nourish yourself regularly, perhaps through music, meditation, movement, healthy food, and nature.

Back at work after this time away (some of my happiest moments), I realized having greater success in terms of material comforts without inner joy was no longer cutting it for me. I was craving a deeper fulfillment that I knew was to be found by looking within at my own unique journey.

The Next Step in the Journey

By working with a talented coach, I was reminded of my gifts and the costs of playing small and keeping those gifts to myself. I was empowered to dream big—to step out of my comfort zone and into my heart and body to define my next steps. I was courageous and left my corporate job to embark on this path of identifying my soul-aligned career.

I uncovered several potential options, with coaching being one to which I was naturally drawn. I loved the time with my coach—her support, the coaching process, and my progress were all inspiring. The opportunity to offer that safe space for others to grow and expand felt like a dream.

After another soul rejuvenating trip to Bali, I met other coaches (synchronicities!) who helped me seal the deal. As a proud iPEC graduate, I’m often pinching myself asking, “Is this real life?” to get to enjoy what I do so much that it doesn’t feel like work.

I now celebrate my strengths and accomplishments that are deeply rewarding. I’ve found my passion (unexpectedly, after the string of losses), and look forward to serving others in working through their “stuckness” to discover their truth on this wild ride of life!

With the recent events of COVID-19 and stark reminders of racial inequality, I’m more emboldened on my path of serving others while having gratitude for the obstacles that led me here.

Photo Credit: Vince Fleming, Unsplash.com

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From quitting to staying the course.
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The change you’re seeking will come from within.

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