This morning, I was interviewed by a brilliant 11 yr. old girl, Sofie Davidson of Boulder, Co, who's doing research on why young women are not choosing to go into the STEM (science tech engineering math) industry. She wanted to hear the results of the research I've been doing for the last year and also hear about the consulting business I'm in the process of building. Not only did I get to establish an alliance with an 11 yr old (!!), but we both just got a chance to educate each other. I got to understand her world and her visions of a future career in STEM and she got to understand mine and the other women I've interviewed. I feel a wave of evolution coming...
I wonder what
will happen if
we reach a point
of no return
Over the last few years my nervous system and heart have been finally, truly unlearning the ingrained patterns of "worst nightmares often come true" and "settling for dysfunction is my only option".
But I'm still a newbie at this stuff. This past week has been really, really hard for me. Those old patterns have been fighting, tooth and nail to be the loudest voices in the room again. I've had to dig deep, really deep. I've had to continually put myself face to face, mirror to mirror, with the loving people I choose to keep close to me to remember that I don't choose dysfunction anymore and that personal, radical evolution is a possible alternative to worst nightmares coming true.
And truly, what I've had to remember to remember is that I AM surrounded by a partner and friends that see and love me for who I am, as I also do for them. We are not here to destroy each other. But, we ARE armed with tools. Tools that keep us from sliding too far backwards into misunderstanding and relational hell and tools that help us face conflict in service of learning. In short, we are here to See each other with a capital S, to help each other grow, and to love each other.
I am a helluva skeptic and a well-practiced cynic. But apparently this stuff is for real. And I know it's rare. The best part, and the reason I post tonight, is that as I've been listening to the voices online and in the media over the last few months, I want to say that I do not forget: I know where I started and I remember how I got here. I remember, too, that before I got a sample of this, I thought it was unrealistic and perhaps even fake.
We as a country have some serious work to do. And I know that many will never do it. But I do believe that at least for those who choose it and want it: it is doable. Conflict resolution and healthy, satisfying (even ecstatic!) relationship is doable and learnable.
So that's what I got tonight. And I'd love to still keep getting all your beautiful mirrors in these next weeks, as I'd be happy to give back to you.
My favorite definition of a demon is "anything that is stuck, AKA; cannot evolve or move." Animals that don't evolve won't survive for very long. This demon theory not only applies to mother nature, but includes beliefs that have become set-in-stone. This is where I'm seeing stuck-ness around me today: Does being a Responsible Adult have to mean that we sacrifice our offering to the greater world in service of providing only for ourselves and our inner circle/family? Or that we sacrifice quality of life for our family and ourselves in order to serve the greater good?
What if... We spend our whole life equating all our inner cravings, our right brain creativity, our so-called wild-side with "irresponsible, crazy, and selfish"? And at the end realize that these sometimes useful judgements are also the very ones that shamed us into holding back from truly showing up and serving others, loving others from our full power, from our deepest purpose? What if?
I used to secretly wish that all the people close to me would be psychic so that I didn't have to explain to them how I felt or to ask for what I need/want. I'd fall into the trap of: "If they really knew me, if they really cared, they'd just know." (Ok, I still sometimes secretly wish this... but there's been a reality check over the last few years.) It seems that some of us can read people better than others. But I've also noticed that we are human. And we mis-read each other a hell of a lot.
I've had this card on my alter for about 8 years now. Every so often I write a new meta-intention inside that I mean to do whatever it takes to manifest. It occurred to me tonight in conversation with a student that every one of them has actually happened. 4 big ones. Apparently puja works. Yoga works. Self development works. Therapy works. Coaching works. Learning works. Surrounding myself with people I want to grow with works. And authentic relating takes the cake: accelerated transformation is an under-statement. Time for the next one?
14 years ago my little bro took his own life and a few weeks later my family went to Ireland to attempt some bonding/grieving time. My life has been divided into two sections- before the spring of 2002 and after. Going to Ireland that May was like going through a portal. My perspective on life ,and what really matters, was never the same again.
That aletheia moment when you realize that you thought all along you were gaining control over yourself and then you realize you are out of control because the control has taken control and you can't express yourself anymore. Too much meditating, yoga, parenting, adulting... Uh oh. -from a beautiful circling conversation this week.
It's true that I think yoga is not the end-all-be-all and I often get frustrated with the shadows of the industry and lineages. And it's also true that I still love yoga. And it's true I sometimes need reminding of just how much I love it and of how it completely changed my life. This morning in the group check-in at the beginning of my Yoga Reconstructed class, 3 people shared that they'd recently crossed the "yoga threshold" and could no longer go backwards.
Sometimes... I wish I could back up to a time in my life that in retrospect looks courageous, but was really naïveté, when I had no idea that loving and being loved (any kind of love other than divine unconditional love) is the ultimate form of being vulnerable, a.k.a. "open to attack, harm or damage".
I used to get feedback that I was too honest. The problem is, when a friend asks "how are you?", I actually answer the question. I've been told that I make people uncomfortable. I was told that a yoga teacher needs to be joyful and happy. And I was also told that as a mother I especially needed to put on the disney-land smile at all times or else I'd ruin my child.
This morning I lectured to undergrads at the University of Colorado Sociology department on the main themes within the History of Yoga and how they have influenced western pop yoga practice and culture. I not only love and thrive being in this sort of a teacher role (I miss it quite a lot, actually), but, my favorite part was getting to use some authentic relating tools to start a real live conversation with the students about their impression of "yoga" today.
Among the normal "exercise, relaxation, blah, blah, blah" perceptions, I also got a lot of "judgmental, elitist, cliquey, intimidating, and boring". I. love. raw. honesty. And I feel honored that I got to show up and receive the bravery it took for the students to risk insulting me and therefore engage in a open, honest and educated conversation about this subject that I'm so passionate about. The how and why pop yoga is this way today; why particular philosophies and lineages actually promote "judgmental, elitist, cliquey and boring" and are pretty much meant to do so in order to attain their goals. And then my very favorite part: that that there are also alternative voices in the history of yoga that have been drowned... ones that I happen to adore (and admit I have bias towards) and have observed being much healthier and realistic for our every day lives.
But most of all, I am a pig in shit today because I'm just so ecstatic that these conversations are happening. That we are listening to each other. That people are interested. And that people seem to care.
Alright, the salty side is coming out today. Beware of post!
When I actually commit to something, it's usually been after a long time of waffling, indecision, skepticism and observing. And then once I'm in, I'm in. Which means for me, that there's no more messing around or picking the easy road. This also goes for the quest to "love self", find self... land in self... land in the divine. Whatever you wanna call it. And what I've personally found is that the most potent path is the one that challenges me the most. Not necessarily the one that takes away all the distractions. For me, this means finding Me in the context of others. Not by myself. It drives me nutty that the most popular spiritual philosophies I run into forget that this is possible. That love of Self can happen through reflection with others, triggers by others, ingredients from others... and conflict can bring us to intimacy with self and also intimacy with other. Healthy attachment instead of complete non-attachment. Finding self all by self is just too easy, maybe not even that effective, if you ask me ;)
Three years ago I stepped off a plane from my first trip to India and had the distinct feeling that the breath was being ripped out of my lungs. It felt like I was dying of suffocation. A primal experience that I'm absolutely sure blog words cannot capture... one that I cannot forget and one I don't want to remember.
I'd gone from the highest high to the lowest low; a low that did not include oxygen, all in one plane ride. It wasn't just culture shock; I've had that before. It wasn't just being ripped away from my spiritual tribe; I've been through many a rough re-entry before. It wasn't just coming back to bleak January; everyone dressed in black, the trees bare, the sky grey. It wasn't just jet lag or exhaustion. It wasn't just the shock of coming back to full-blown motherhood selfless service. No, the shock of coming back to my entire life, my entire ME, after feeling what I'd felt there, was horrifying.
I recall taking my son to Target the day after getting home, simply to kill time and avoid the nauseous feeling of being lost and in shock. Wandering the aisles, squinting through the fluorescent lights, listening to people arguing, fighting to get in lines to check out, getting overwhelmed looking for a few simple items... holy shit: this is my Western attempt to "fill" myself... with plastic... instead of something real. This is what I do. This is what we do. I had... no idea how disgusting, how empty... how deathlike my existence was. How starving I had been. The contrast between here and there, was a bit too much to handle.
I'm not sure how long I'd been that starving; probably since the day my brother had died 10 years before. More likely longer. The questions loomed over me: "How the hell did I get here? How the hell am I going to get out? How the hell am I going to find 'that' feeling that I had over there, here? Here, where there is literally no access? I live in a spiritual desert. My tongue is dry. And all I have is a memory of a well... somewhere, somehow, that didn't even make any actual sense."
This photo popped up on my newsfeed memory today. It was taken in the midst of our pilgrimage staring at the Indian Ocean just after a 5am temple dosing. It's been 3 years of integration so far. Identity crisis included. Little by little, I've found ways for that feeling over there, to happen over here. In here. I hesitate to give IT a name because I know my experience of IT is not necessarily yours.
My IT happens in THIS body, in this life, in this place. At any time I remember to remember. IT is a very real, every-day IT. But, it's been a road to be here today. A road I'm proud of. I did not go backwards, but instead trudged forwards. And I still do, even now. There have been times that I wish I didn't know the difference. And there are always moments that I forget to remember. But the difference today, is that I know the difference. And I know I can push that button, remember to remember, at any point in time. Sometimes it's harder than others. But it never, ever goes away. I don't live in a desert. I live in my life.
Sitting with the sober realization tonight of how abhorrently irresponsible it is of us to teach our children that "life sucks and then you die". And that I used to buy into this nonsense.
My definition of suck is not hardship or grief or loss, etc. It's that nauseous feeling that there is no point to living. That we are merely robots here, without passion or vibrancy, putting one foot in front of the other for no reason at all. For me, the ultimate suck is one of flat-line zombie death. Not being able to feel. Not having passion. Not having love, desire, soul yearning, community, challenge, family, color, breath, taste, smell. A life without Technicolor. Where we only behave as we should and don't live from what we yearn for. Being American Beauty cal-de-sac safe. Not being allowed to have fire and large, intimate, raw emotion. Juice. I need juice and I need to be surrounded by people who need juice. Who thrive off of artistic expression, bettering our world and loving eachother. I will settle for nothing less. In a nutshell, I'm talking about the growing Western plague that is societal depression.
The part I'm not ok with is teaching our kids to blindly accept the "suck". Or to even teach them that living a suck life is a responsible life. Teaching our children to accept the American Beauty way of being is a disaster waiting to happen for us all. Why would our kids even want to live or create or improve our world? What happened to our responsibility to teach our kids to care: to love living and love humanity and life?
Most of my life has "sucked". No need to hammer that one home. AND then, I found out there's so much more. There is no going back for me. No way, no how.
Feeling grateful to be feeling strange. I am. In love... with the confusion and disorientation of swimming in new waters that are nothing like I have intimately always known, predicted or had an inkling of imagining to be real. Too many old patterns are not running the show anymore.
WE are in process with rolling out a revolutionary community and program that is much more than a yoga studio... one that I realize I've been dreaming about for years. WE are the Integral Center Yoga Union. A union of highly qualified and passionate teachers who are committed to teaching yoga and other practices that actually change your life; on and off the mat.
Ruthless, relentless unconditional love... This is the taste on my palate on this Christmas Eve. Maybe this post sounds morbid. To me, there's nothing sweeter. There's nothing more courageous. There's nothing more powerful. This kind of love is the feminine in her element. I find it funny that we think unconditional love is always gooey, light, "high vibes" and cheer. It's unconditional... it doesn't hold back just because there's a chance we might get burned.
I swam in the ocean today. It was 88 degrees outside here in Florida. I'm hearing talk about sea level rising in Miami and people trying to pump the water back out to the ocean. I'm ruminating on how Christmas tradition is focused mostly on Jesus instead of the woman who did the work on this day. The woman who probably ruthlessly told everyone to get the hell out of the way so she could give birth to this important Man. And I'm wondering: Are we starting to listen to Her voice? Or are we still discrediting her? And is she going to love us anyway and just melt us along with our shadows?
I thought about apologizing for the non-cheeriness of this post on Christmas Eve... And then thought again. I'm not apologizing for being willing to love and care this deeply in the world. I am a mother. It's what I do.