Hi there, my name is Derrick and I'm here to make you uncomfortable.
No, seriously; this is where I find the engine of transformation... it's where the fire inside breathes, and if you read my story I think you may find it resonates with you too. Seeking the fire of discomfort changed my world, an allowed me to laugh and love again.
-Where I'm From-
I get asked this question a lot because I'm not from Ireland; my accent is distinctly American, and family lineage is very important in Ireland. Usually I answer with a quick, "I'm from Berkeley / SF / Bay Area / Sacramento / California" etc because to be honest... I have no idea where I'm from. Is it where I was born, or where I spent most of my life? Where most of my time was spent as a child, or as an adult? Even if those specifics were answered, I still wouldn't have a clue; I've moved over 30 times between different cities and different states.
No, I'm not an army brat. Simply put, my parents were addicts and we were quite poor. They split up in my adolescent years; my schizophrenic mother disappeared and married a white supremacist, my father struggled with depression and alcoholism, and I was always the 'new kid' in class and was picked on relentlessly. I've slept in cars, stolen for food, became very depressed, and eventually dropped out of school. I was drowning in inner turmoil... and I had no way to understand it or move through it.
- Where I Began To Shift -
I left my family and discarded my connections to them in my mid-20's and began working on myself. It's during this process that I found my love to run, and ended up completing the full, 26 mile marathon. A friend of mine invited me to a yoga class, and I denied because I thought yoga is just a place where women go to stretch and take instagram photos. For me, running (and biking) was all I needed; it gave me peace of mind from my past. However, after just 3 classes of power vinyasa and yin courses, I realized that I wasn't dealing with my past; I was running from it... figuratively and literally. Much like a high comes from caffeine to distract from the tiredness, running distracted me from my childhood trauma.
During my yoga practice, I was pushed inside myself and given the space to wonder at what lay there... without judgement. Yoga enabled me to take an honest, humbling view of the mental dealings in my heart and head; feelings that I'm unloveable and undeserving of a fulfilling life. Things we all feel way too often. Of course, we keep them to ourselves to keep up appearances... but all this does is mask the issue. In truth, we have these agreements in our head about who and what we are that give us constant anxiety and feelings of loss. They are like roots inside; but instead of bringing love and laughter, they bring doubt and pain. It was yoga that gave me the space to see them... and the teaching to breathe through them.
- Where I Went With Yoga -
Through my practice of yoga I was able to begin the uprooting of those toxic agreements in my being... which I'm still doing today. What I learned is that in order to deal with the past, we must allow the uncomfortable feelings to come up and breathe through them. In honoring the pain, the hurt, the trauma... we begin to allow them leave. In yoga, we go into some intensive, fire-like postures that force us back into our bodies and to breathe. The trauma stored in those hips, the anxiety stored in those shoulders... slowly begins to fade away like smoke. And I had a lot of trauma to express out; but eventually the teaching left the yoga mat and moved into my daily life. Much like therapy, I slowly began to have compassion for myself and realize that I can honor any negative emotion, breathe with intent, and allow it to leave.
With this new yoga root inside, I started to find confidence and joy... which changed the world around me. Since then, I was awarded with the highest honor scholarship at UC Berkeley, where I obtained a bachelors degree in neuroscience and sociology. I've been granted numerous science scholarships and awards that allowed me to travel to many places, as well as finally become financially stable; something I've never had. We all take it for granted, but simply eating a lovely home cooked meal is so meaningful for me. Now I'm at UCD pursuing a PhD in Cognitive Science. If you're ever curious about how the mind works and want to share ideas, please feel free to contact me... I never shut up about it. However, if you come to my courses you will hear about my studies as they are linked to the practice of yoga.
- Where I Am Now With Yoga -
So how did I land in Westport, Ireland? Well, I feel in love with the country, first. I studied abroad in Dublin and found a wonderful gem in this country. There is so much deep rooted history, as well as a breathtaking landscape of green. The people here know how to laugh with a full belly, and the feeling of community is beautiful. I also fell in love with someone from Westport, and now we have a wonderful home with a cat and a dog. Through yoga, I learned that my home is where my feet are and the feeling of being content is always available.
I've learned that the way forward is the way in, and the way in is to move into the uncomfortable fire and breath through it. To honor those feelings, and give them space to leave. For me, this is done through the yoga root; to plant a foundation that will serve you in living a stronger, vibrant life.
If this struck a chord with you, if you are at all curious, then come to a class and explore the way of the yoga root with me. I am still learning, as there is no end to this journey... and perhaps we can learn together. We all come from different backgrounds and thus have different insights to the way forward, but we all share the same goal of health and happiness that can be only done through community.