About Not Losing Your S#*t.
Holy moly! It’s crazy out there! I don’t know about you, but I am constantly struggling with the desire to keep informed of what’s going on in the world and the need—for the sake of my health and wellbeing—to be away from it.
On one hand, I feel that if I am going to be an active participant in this society, I need to stay informed. On the other hand, the weight I feel from so many mixed emotions about all that is going on can be overwhelming on the spirit and draining on the body.
It’s times like this that my yoga practice is put to the test.
Seventeen years ago when I chose yoga in my life, I made an unspoken, conscious commitment to continue to strive to be awake. Now, that doesn’t mean I am always awake, sometimes I slip backwards and fall into that mindless abyss. Sometimes, that seems easier, safer. Then the yogi in me reminds me that is not who I am or who I want to be.
It’s a lot like my meditation practice. There is not one day of my life that goes by that I don’t hear someone say, “I can’t meditate, because my mind won’t shut up.” “No shit,” is my most common internal response. I don’t know where that idea came from, but that’s what many people think is meditation. And if that is the goal of meditation, then I don’t know what I have been wasting my time for all of these years, because my mind is like the Serengeti during peak migration time. The Dalai Lama has been practicing since birth and I bet he can’t completely clear his mind either!
Just like a yoga pose expresses itself differently in every individual body, so too is the meditation experience. For me, it’s about watching and getting wiser to the trickery of the mind—to the stories that are being told and by recognizing them as stories. From that I can see that I am just an addict to the story; they aren’t me, they aren’t even true, they are just happening and for some reason, I feel like I need them in order to make sense of who I am.
This practice of teaching myself to see them as a story has, in time, given me a little bit of space so that I can recognize the difference between ‘right now’ and the thought itself. It creates a sense of separation, so that I have a chance to not be such a slave to the story. But my mind-habits are strong, which means I am constantly fluctuating between being immersed in the story and knowing that there is one.
By seeing the thoughts as a story, I am able to give myself some reprieve from the judgment I have around that story. And from that a possibility is introduced that perhaps those judgments I have of myself and others may not be entirely true and that is where the gold is. It opens up the possibility that there is another perspective; it’s an opportunity for a reframe. It is in that break of possibility that my judgment fades away, my eyes begin to open and I am able to see beyond the idea of us vs. them and me vs. ‘the other’. I listen deeper to what is underneath it all—the truth of the matter. It is in that place only love and compassion can be known—which feels So. Freaking. Good.
Then a more interesting story comes along and there I go down the rabbit hole of my mind, moving through the cycle all over again.
Sure that place may be easier to get to when in a yoga room surrounded by like-minded people with the sweet smell of incense and relaxing music, but how do we find that place of connection and compassion when there is this intense, acute feeling that the world is caving in?
Now, more than ever, practices that inspire are the most vital to our state of being, but when all we ever see on the news is our fellow humans experiencing such profound loss, doing anything creative or related to self-care can bring on a type of survivors or privilege guilt, like we don’t have the right to do such frivolous things when our brothers and sisters are suffering.
My yoga practice is constantly showing me where I hold tension in my body: I can feel Las Vegas in my shoulders, the news of fire destruction throughout my neck and the very mention of government constricting my chest. Like the stories in my mind, these are loaded with judgment and emotion. The only real truth right now is that I am sitting here at the computer in a healthy body, listening to my dog play joyfully in the other room, while I type words on a screen–and the knowing that there is a truth deeper than the one I am being told.
This is about feeling the rawness of humanity and realizing that it is challenging my own humanity. It is about not turning away from the shadows of my own judgment, prejudice and ignorance.
It is my practice that challenges me to not feel helpless, but the be brave and open—to listen and be kind—to offer myself in service to that truth—to constantly remember that when I am clear and loving in my thoughts, words and intentions that love, compassion and inspiration are waiting to enter the door right into me.
My practice gives me the foundational strength so that I can be fearless in exploring and owning my shadows, while also giving myself permission to act on what inspires me—to be committed to both. So instead of getting stuck in the panic that Rome is falling, I look for the mirrors and the teachers that are showing themselves to me in that moment—and every day I make a point of engaging in some sort of creative act that allows my body and spirit to remember what inspiration feels like.
To read more about reconnecting with what inspires you, check out one of my past blog posts on the topic.
If what I have written has spoken to you at all and you are interested in learning more about shadow discovery, I am hosting a workshop on it in February, 2018. Look out for the announcement over the next couple weeks, or feel free to reach out to me, I am happy to discuss it further with you. In the meantime, take very good care of yourself, you deserve it.