Disclaimer: This story contains mentions of suicide that may be triggering to some
“Just over three years ago, I woke up one Monday morning feeling completely over myself. I wasn’t depressed or anxious, and I wasn’t grieving. I just felt stuck. I felt tired, restless, and unanchored, but at the same time, I knew I didn’t have to accept that this was my life. There was a little voice deep inside me urging me to listen.
I went through the normal Monday morning routine of getting myself ready for work and getting my kids ready for school, but instead of going to work, I found myself driving home. I called work and took a mental health day. None of this was planned. I was just following the inner voice that was coming from deep inside of me.
I changed out of my work clothes and set myself up on the lawn in my backyard to meditate. I had my journal, a coffee, my phone, and, for some reason, my laptop.
I was feeling quite unanchored and restless this day. Feelings that were quite familiar to me, yet feelings most people around me didn’t know I felt on a regular basis.
When I came out of my usual morning meditation, I grabbed my laptop and googled yoga teacher training. This wasn’t completely impulsive. I’d been thinking about teacher training for a few years, but I was clearly not charmed enough to actually dedicate time to it. I looked up a few yoga schools, and specifically, one my sister-in-law had recommended, but it didn’t inspire me.
I opened my emails and after a few minutes of scrolling down the rabbit hole of courses, I stumbled across a clinical application for yoga in physiotherapy practice. This sparked my interest, and as I explored further I found a 200-hour yoga teacher training in Melbourne, starting in six weeks.
I briefly entertained the idea of checking out of life for three weeks; leaving my kids, ditching work and all my responsibilities, even skipping Easter. I can’t really do that?? Can I??
I Googled the course location in Melbourne and texted one of my best friends to ask where it was.
‘Hey, Trace, where is Prahran?’
‘Oh, that’s only a few minutes from us. Are you coming to Melbourne?? Stay with us!!’
‘Hmmm, that’s convenient,’ I thought. But still…I can’t leave my kids, can I??
Next thing, I was texting my mom. ‘So, Mom, I’d like to do this 200-hour YTT in Melbourne over Easter, but I’d need to be gone for three weeks…’
‘We can have the kids,’ was Mom’s reply. Hmm, this is weird!!
So next I texted my Nanny…’Are you around to help with the kids over Easter?’
‘Sure, I can have our babies.’ Hmm…
Feeling bold, I texted work, ‘I’m going to be away for three weeks over Easter on a course.’
‘No problem, lovely, we will block you out.’
Every single door was opening effortlessly, and six weeks later, I was in Melbourne.
I walked into the yoga studio and was greeted by my teacher with the most loving embrace. I had no idea what was ahead of me. True to my personality, I had not researched anything about this; I just turned up. It was suggested that we switch off from our life as much as possible, turn off our phones and surrender to the experience. So I did. I embraced my mantra of discipline over motivation, something I always preach as a health coach, and did everything that was asked of me. What unfolded over the next three weeks was hard to put into words. Yes, I became a qualified yoga teacher, but I had gained a newfound understanding of just how much stress and emotion my body had been holding from all of my past experiences. I had finally found a place to start to heal the parts of me that were unanchored and restless that Monday on the lawn.
The first problem I encountered after emerging from my supportive yogi love bubble was that it was a little difficult to reintegrate back into normal life.
Why the f**k were people so angry and stressed out?? I fell into a mini spiritual depression, as my teachers warned I might.
The voice inside me kept urging me to continue on down this path, and the next thing I knew, I had signed up on a pilgrimage to India. Once again, I was following charm, following my inner voice without question and with zero knowledge of what was ahead of me.
One of my weaknesses is that I am not a planner. Which, in this scenario, was a little terrifying for me, flying into a third-world country by myself, knowing I had to find my own way. My planning was sketchy at best, but my confidence was sky-high. I’d just wing it. I’d be fine.
It’s hard to know where to begin when talking about my India experience; the ‘pray’ part of my Drink, Pray, Love story.
So, we’d better go back to the beginning: the drink part of my story.
We certainly do have a drinking culture in Australia, and more specifically, in the mom community. You can’t open social media without a meme about needing a drink to cope with mom life.
This certainly became true for me. My early years of mom life were challenging to say the least.
I recall my 32nd birthday. The day started with me being woken up early by my 2-year-old son, and 36 weeks pregnant with my baby girl. I was getting ready to head down to Byron Bay. Sounds like a dream way to spend your birthday, right? Most of my friends and family believed the story I told them about heading down to Byron for a couple of days rest before the birth of our second baby. Why wouldn’t they believe me?!
The truth was that I was driving down to Byron Bay with my 2-year-old son to visit my husband, who had been in a live-in mental health facility for the past six weeks with acute suicidal ideation. I was hoping to bring him home so he could be with me for the birth of our baby girl.
My birthday was very low on the priority list that year. In fact, most of my needs, dreams, and desires were low on the priority list at that time in my life, and for years before and years after that. Living with a spouse with mental illness takes a toll.
After two nights living in with him and our son, and after a few family counseling sessions to find out how I could best support him during this time, I was given the green light to take him home to look after him, look after my son, look after my unborn baby girl, look after my business, and look after myself.
Being the perpetually positive woman I am, I believed we were on track towards getting my husband better and getting back to our amazing life because really, we had it all.
My beautiful baby girl came into the world a few weeks later. I was relieved to have her in my arms but also incredibly stressed and worried about my husband, who I had to send home to bed that night as I could tell he wasn’t coping. It was at that moment in the hospital with my baby girl that I knew my life was about to get a lot worse before it would get better.
After watching my husband deteriorate down a horrendous path of self-destruction, including job losses, alcohol abuse, self-harm, hospitalizations, and suicide attempts, I eventually came home one day to find he had taken his life in our family home. I was now a widow and a solo mom of my two kids who were only 2 and 4 years old.
A concoction of stress, grief, and trauma had left me in a severe state of adrenal fatigue and depletion, but STILL, there was a very loud and dominating voice inside me that told me I would be okay.
Looking back, I’ve always had that voice inside of me. I heard her so loudly the day after my late husband’s suicide; telling me that I was going to be ok; it just took me a long time to listen, to trust, and to follow her inner guidance.
These are the experiences that lead me to that Monday, taking a mental health day, sitting in my backyard, googling yoga teacher training in the sun with my dog.
My inner voice was telling me that a spiritual connection was missing from my life; the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to holistic health and wellness, something I have always valued highly and based my career around. This is why to outsiders I looked well, but my inner world was in turmoil. I needed support in managing my feelings and emotions, support in stripping back all of the sh*t that had been hurled at me for years—the sh*t that lead to the limiting beliefs I was holding as truth, the sh*t that had taken me so far away from my true self. Sh*t that had me feeling restless and unanchored and perpetually going through the cycle of burnout. I needed support to love and trust again and listen to my inner voice that was trying to come through.
A few days into my India Pilgrimage, I’d completely surrendered to the process, all in, discipline over motivation, and clearly, the purification process was working.
About 10 days into my trip, I jumped on a flight heading down to southern India for my next experience. I was seated next to a nervous Indian woman who, from what I could work out given the language barrier, was scared sh*tless of flying. She grabbed my hand fiercely with every minor turbulence. So, thinking it would be rude to pull out my book and read or put headphones on as this woman clearly needed my presence, I closed my eyes and dropped into meditation. Twice, I was pulled out of my meditation as I felt my physical body suddenly gasp for breath and my abdomen forcefully contract. I didn’t think much more about this experience until a little later in my pilgrimage.
My teacher was so excited to take us to our final Ashram of the pilgrimage—Amma’s Ashram. After a short while, energy started to build and a magnificent elephant appeared in the distance, along with an entourage. The elephant was escorting Amma, the divine feminine. As they came closer, my skepticism drew bigger as I began to notice that Amma was in fact in a very masculine Indian man’s body, with very feminine mannerisms, carrying a white parasol. I will admit, despite my skepticism, it was a cool moment and the energy in the room was undeniably very powerful and intoxicating. I felt like I was tripping, but instead, I appeared to be on a natural high.
Something strange happened after that. I walked back across the dark and poverty-stricken streets to my dorm at the Ashram. My Aussie roommate Laura was already in bed: she wasn’t feeling well and left the ceremony early. In a very sleepy voice, I recall Laura asking me how Amma’s ceremony was. I remember feeling like I was having an out-of-body experience and asked, ‘Can you feel the energy in this room?’ I can’t recall if Laura replied, but remember getting changed and jumping into bed.
The energy I was feeling in my body was extreme, yet I seemed to fall into some kind of sleep. I only know this because the next thing I remember I woke up gasping for breath and could feel my abdomen contracting again, just like it did on the plane flight down south, but 100 times bigger.
The intense high I was experiencing along with the physical sensations of gasping for breath and strong abdominal contractions felt quite unnerving, yet there was also a surreal calmness to the experience. I must have fallen into a deep sleep after that because all I can remember is waking up the next day feeling a little off.
I went to breakfast in the dining hall and told the rest of my group I was going to go back to my room because I didn’t feel well. I was feeling really tired and washed out. I lay down on my bed and fell straight to sleep. When I woke up at midday, I felt completely back to normal.
When I spoke to my teacher, she explained that I’d had a kundalini awakening, which is a profoundly powerful spiritual experience.
Coming to our final day at the Ashram, there was one final thing I needed to do. When we arrived at Amma’s Ashram, we were gifted with a piece of string that we could choose to tie around a nearby love tree. The concept was to ask for deeper love and connection in our current relationship or for singles like me, ask for love to come into our lives.
On our last day my beautiful new friend and yogi Laura asked, with a cheeky grin, ‘So roomie, when are you going to tie your string around the love tree?’
I looked up at her and said one word, ‘F**K’—which meant I hate you and love you for pushing me out of my comfort zone and making me do something you know I want to do but can’t seem to bring myself to do.
She grabbed another fellow yogi friend we’d made from the US, and with two beautiful divine feminines on either side of me, I headed off to the stupid love tree. They stood back and watched me approach the love tree, where I stood and stared at it with tears started streaming down my face. I felt blocked, and all my limitations rose up.
It was time to finally let go of my past experiences with love and open myself up again. I closed my eyes and began the process of manifesting the kind of love I wanted to draw into my life. I felt the emotions, and my heart was filled with pure love and nurturance. I tied the string around the tree and more tears streamed down my face, but now they were tears of release. I felt free.
I turned around to find two beautiful women ready to catch me. They held me in the warmest, loving embrace and without words, we synchronized our breath together, and I felt my nervous system recalibrate.
Without speaking any words of this experience, we walked back to the Ashram together, and I didn’t look back.
As I sat waiting for my ride back to the airport to make the journey home, my yoga teacher said to me, ‘How do you feel?’
I replied, ‘I don’t know what to say when people ask me how my trip was, I don’t even understand what has happened!!’
In all her wisdom, she replied, ‘Just say, ‘It was wonderful, and I had some amazing experiences.’ You’ll know when you feel ready to share more.’
So today, I share my story with you: Drink, Pray, Love.
That was my lowest point in life so far, and I have zero judgment and so much love and compassion for that girl who was struggling so much with life back then.
I am so grateful that I listened to the inner voice that told me over and over in my darkest hours that I would be okay and to follow charm which lead me to YTT, then to India and my spiritual awakening.
I went back to work a few days after my trip and realized I wasn’t ready to dive back into life. So I listened to my inner guidance, which told me I needed more time off. ‘Don’t worry about work and money, you’ll be okay,’ she whispered. So I took another six weeks off and spent the Christmas holidays with my kids. During that time, a very awesome man came into my life. As in he literally walked through my front door as my jaw dropped open, but I’m not calling him the love part of this story.
As girls, we grow up listening to fairy tales of being rescued by our Prince Charming, but I don’t believe in waiting for a Prince Charming to complete me and bring me happiness. I believe unconditional boundless love, light, and joy can be found in every single moment.
I believe the key to freedom and contentment is in stripping away all of the layers of conditioning, past experiences, culture, and societal norms; a process that can be confronting, boring, irksome, arduous, lonely, and profoundly joyous all at once.
But it’s worth it. It allows you to touch the deepest parts of yourself, to reveal your soul, to feel true self-love. To quote my favorite neuroscientist, Dr. Joe Dispenza, ‘Once you’ve had that experience, you can’t go back to business as usual.’
You change. And you realize that the LOVE part of my story is that I know I will live happily ever after, with or without my Prince Charming.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Paula Hindle of Yummy Mummy Physio from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and her website. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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