The word "alignment" seems to be everywhere, especially if you follow spiritual teachers and coaches. But how do you actually know if you are in alignment? What does it mean for your life, or for you energetically?
For many years of my life, I lived out of alignment. I was working a minimum of 3 jobs, in school for god knows how many years, and felt like I was in a constant tailspin. I never knew which way was up, and my sense of "clarity" on what I wanted to do with my life came from what I thought might be the best conversation point.
"Oh, I'm an English major because I want to go to law school." No I didn't.
"I'm getting my master's because I want to be a college professor." Not really. I just wanted a Plan B option that was actually becoming Plan A.
And my favorite: "Yeah I'm going to move into this house in the suburbs with this person because that's just what makes sense." No it didn't. At all. I was just so whacked out of alignment that I had given up on myself.
Thankfully, I stopped ignoring the nudges, red flags, and full on loudspeaker messages from the Universe and slowly, but undoubtedly, began to create a life that feels aligned - from my relationships with people to my relationship with money, and to no longer searching for clarity and life decisions in outside sources.
So, back to my original question - What does it mean to be in alignment?
Alignment in many forms
To be in alignment means that we are living the true expression of who we really are at our core. It means that we've stopped making decisions based on looking good, or not wanting to have to "explain ourselves" to others.
To be in alignment means that we feel in flow; we feel this energetic stillness in the choices that we make. Not that these choices are sometimes incredibly scary, but we just know that they're right.
To be in alignment is, in the words of Martha Beck, "to go with what feels warm." It is to no longer abandon ourselves for the comfort of others. It is to have boundaries.
To be in alignment is to step fully into the truth of who we are. To stop hiding ourselves and fully understand our worth. It is to trust our path, keep taking the next right step, and let go of what's no longer meant for us.
So, now you might be thinking, Well, this all sounds great, but how the hell do I figure out how to get in alignment?
The journey to alignment
For me, I got in alignment by working from the outside-in. If you are familiar with the koshas in Eastern philosophy, think working from the physical body (Annamaya-kosha) inward.
I began my journey to alignment (and of course, still continue this journey) by practicing yoga. However, I couldn't stay consistent with going to classes, so I enrolled in a teacher training program. Becoming a yoga teacher allowed me to consistently release what I was holding in my physical body. When something happens in our lives that we don't process, we actually store it in our bodies. Practicing yoga, or any movement that speaks to you, helps to release this and create more space, essentially creating alignment.
Consistently practicing yoga helped me to access the next layer: the energetic body (Pranamaya-kosha), or realizing that I wasn't breathing. Like, ever. Of course, I was breathing in the normal sense. I was surviving, after all. But it wasn't until my second teacher training that I realized that I wasn't fully breathing in all the way. And that when I did take that full breath in, it felt relaxing, releasing, and scary all at once. Again, I started to notice the space that was created.
Next is getting your mental/emotional state in alignment (Manomaya-kosha). For me, this was becoming what you may have heard called the Gentle Observer: noticing what thoughts or emotions were coming from lies I believed about myself or the world and from that, changing perspective. Your thoughts create your reality, and negative thoughts are a great indicator of when you or something in your life is out of alignment.
Then we move into the wisdom body (Vijnanamaya-kosha). This is your inner knowing, or think, your gut instinct. There was a long time when I was convinced that my gut instinct actually led me down the wrong path - but I think it goes without saying that this is just totally false. We all have this innate sense of what the next right step is for us, or that a decision we've made feels so wrong. However, we can be so clouded by societal norms or other people's judgments that we ignore our inner knowing and get further and further out of alignment. Give your gut feeling some space to be heard - it might seem like it doesn't make sense on the surface, but you'll know if it feels aligned.
Lastly, we move to the bliss body (Anandamaya-kosha). Think, being in flow. Doing something that feels so good that time just doesn't exist. You are grounded here on Earth, and you are connected to something so Divine. There isn't actually "work" to do to feel aligned here - but meditation can certainly help. The bliss body is all about inner stillness that allows you to feel joy, freedom, and the peace that is truly you at your core.
And that is exactly it - alignment is being who we really are, which is peace, joy, freedom, love. It is trusting in your path, continuing to follow each next right step, and little by little, truly living a life of clarity, purpose, and the truth that is so unique to you.