December 31, 2015 § Leave a comment
The last month of 2015 took it upon itself to really drive home the lesson of learning how to be a beginner. This, in a year that has been especially about beginnings and endings. I get the sense that the Universe is really giving its all into impressing the gravity of this particular module of Life 101 before the clock runs out on 2015’s curriculum.
It’s new year’s eve and there’s a palpable anticipation of the “new year” all over my networks, with all the sentimentality of bright-eyed aspirations, courageous hopes and best wishes that today brings. It is sweet to read and to ride this wave of goodwill, a refreshing change from the endless parade of dismal news and cynicism the other days of the year. Dec 31 shows that we’re actually all optimists at heart. Tomorrow will be better, in all its newness. Tomorrow holds the potential for change and continued transformation. Tomorrow is another chance to start afresh and revisit my endeavors with fresh eyes, perspective and courage.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.
What we forget (so easily) is that this promise of an abstract ‘Tomorrow’ is always present with us. Each inhale and exhale is the ‘tomorrow’ that we keep projecting out of ourselves. You don’t need to wait to find the courage to face your fears, pursue your dreams, unfold into a radical acceptance of who you are/what you look like/how you age, etc. It’s always there, waiting to be found in the rhythmic spaciousness of the breath.
Life: Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.
Happy New Year friends.
September 1, 2015 § 1 Comment
A friend shared this podcast where meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg elaborates on the concept of ‘karma’. Spoiler alert: we’ve been too liberal in applying this concept to everything and everyone around us!
The true meaning of the word is complex and more empowering than pop culture would have us believe. It is not something that is inevitable, but instead, it is a tool for introspection and when applied intelligently, could help me avoid future suffering (Sutra 2.16). If where we are now is a product of the choices we have made in the past, then the choices we make now will shape our future. Therefore, it’s in our interest to choose intelligently. Or, as a Buddhist would say, to live skillfully.
August 25, 2015 § 7 Comments
The musings of a misanthropic mind, applied to the School of Yoga Fitness:
Where in the Yoga Teacher Training curriculum do they teach you “Platitudes 101: the perfect caption for Social Media Inspiration”? Is this before or after the “Yoga for Instagram How-To”? Is there a sub-module where aspiring yogis and yoginis are encouraged to start substituting “Namaste” for “Goodbye”?
Does wearing an Apple Watch while you practice help you to find your (i)Self? Perhaps the yet-to-be-developed iCompass-For-Yogis application will be instrumental in that regard. Yet another dimension of our analog life that is ripe for disruption.
If six to nine months of learning Ashtanga is enough for you to start selling yourself as a Yoga Teacher, does that make me, after almost six years of practice, a MASTER YOGA TEACHER?
June 21, 2015 § 7 Comments
Life and practice has been all about the pain in the past six weeks. Not physical pain, but emotional pain. Overwhelming, distraught, wordless pain that resides deep inside the body. A residue of past trauma, of physical and emotional abuse that still haunts me to this day. I thought I was over these chapters of my past, especially now that I’m living a new life far far away from the place and people of my childhood. But clearly my body has not forgotten, and Kapotasana has proven to be an effective trigger in resurfacing the pain and its attendant emotions: fear and grief, but most of all, worthlessness.
It’s not the first time that this pose has made me cry. The first round was in December 2014, a period of time I will never forget because I was depressed for weeks. I had no idea what was going on. This practice that nourishes me suddenly left me atomized, utterly broken and unable to do much more than mope around and weep. That phase eventually subsided, but resurfaced again a few weeks ago. This time I had the support of a bodyworker/osteopath/white witch who I’ve been seeing for the past two years. Her hypothesis that I’ve stored the pain of physical abuse in my quads has not only proven accurate, it’s also been followed by a series of events that tap deep into the heart of the pain that’s shaped me: shame, guilt and worthlessness. All of it is coming out now, one way or another. Old baggage from relationships that I want to hide forever and never have to deal with, coming to the forefront of my consciousness, resurrecting past ghosts, the past self of mine who believed that she was never good enough and who never quite fit in. And I still don’t. After all, it’s hard to fit in when you’re the only one crying in the Mysore room, every fucking time.
“The deeper the catharsis, the bigger the transformation”, says one of my yoga teachers when I clued her in on what’s going on. I cannot see beyond the pangs of this catharsis at the moment because identifying the cause of my pain has led to an unpacking of all the baggage I’ve been carrying around. It is one fucking mess after another. A cascade of painful realizations from past hurts. I am trying to rise above the ‘optional suffering’ that comes with the pain built-in into life, but some days it is too bloody hard. I have so many questions that will never be answered. Wounds so deep that I cannot see the day when they will heal, even if I know, intellectually, that they will. John Waters’ commencement speech spoke to me on a multitude of levels, but his remark about not being surrounded by assholes in his personal and professional life really stood out. Because this pain I’m processing at the moment is a product of the wonderful assholes who brought me into existence and weaved the cultural and religious environment of my upbringing for the better part of 30 years. I knew that moving away from “home” was one of the best things to ever happen to me, but it is in revisiting my past ghosts that I can fully appreciate the significance of this life event. By taking myself out of a toxic environment, I finally have the space and freedom to find my self, heal and build a new life. I have never felt more certain about being exactly where I need to be, and despite the pain, I know that time is on my side.
May 14, 2015 § 3 Comments
1. Driving tightens my adductors.
2. I’m not great at following the prescribed rules. I often begin with compliance, but eventually a tendency towards questioning takes over. I like to analyze, contextualize, extract meaning and find resonance. I guess you can say I’m a bona fide shithead.
3. Traumatic stress resides in my nervous system. And it’s no fun when the full impact of stressful emotions you’ve been carrying around manifests itself on the physical plane. Pain. Lots of it.
4. The Ashtanga practice can be done by anyone with an inkling of interest, but most definitely not by those who spend 12-14 hours a day on their feet lugging light stands, backdrops and heavy wood surfaces.
5. Kapotasana B is currently the finely honed razor’s edge of my existence.
6. Sometimes, a dropback can give you the most satisfying, chiropractor-like adjustment in the upper back.
7. My anxieties have a common root: one of feeling as if I have something to prove.
8. I feel like a fraud a lot of the time. Doesn’t seem like that’s going to change.
9. Committing to a daily practice is really about committing to bravery, courage and fearlessness.
10. Holding, instead of grasping, one’s awareness, both physically and psychically is practically an art form.
April 21, 2015 § Leave a comment
Come on by if you’re in the area May 21. It’s the evening of the Piedmont Avenue Art Stroll in Oakland and the entire street will be closed off for art, wine and shopping. These prints will be on display in Oakland until June 20, after which they’re going to decorate the walls of a couple of cafes and yoga studios in Silicon Valley throughout the summer. All works available for purchase in 16×20 or 20×30 formats, printed on archival paper and mounted with a brushed steel finish. Send me a note if you’re interested in purchasing or displaying the work in your yoga studio.
March 2, 2015 § 3 Comments
I first encountered the notion of ‘being a zero’ in this post, nine months before my maiden trip to Mysore. It was an illuminating notion and, along with tips from my teacher, went a long way to shape my expectations about what practicing at KPJAYI would be like. Looking back now, I realize that, as long as I’m prepared for it, consciously subsuming my ego and lowering my expectations for recognition is entirely doable, provided there is a clear start and end date. Returning to a Western life intimately connected with social media and suddenly ‘being a zero’ doesn’t work as well. It’s uncomfortable to be a zero in a world of ‘likes’ and ‘social engagement’, where everyone is building their ‘personal brand’. As a self-employed extrovert, it is too easy to get sucked into the metrics and vrttis of disembodied interactions on a screen, imbibing every single beautiful/funny/heart-wrenching/banal/disappointing/horrifying update that appears in my newsfeed. Monitoring the number of likes/comments/shares on each post. Comparing statistics. Letting whatever spare ounce of energy I have leak into a screen in my palm, 24/7.
Given my extroverted tendencies, then, I’m entirely fascinated with a new-found attraction towards being a zero in my current life. Perhaps this cold-turned-dry-hacking-cough I’m nursing has something to do with it. When you’re bed-ridden and the only window to your social world is your smartphone, you start to see its effects on you a lot more clearly. In any case, seeking out Zero-ness dovetails nicely with a recent shift towards cultivating intentionality in my relationships instead of succumbing to some abstract idea that I should be friends with everyone I meet and seek out their approval. I’m starting to recognize that approval seeking is a big part of my social agenda and it’s one that is unsustainable. Bye Bye blank checks of friendship. Hello Intention.
So: being a zero. A lot of it so far is watching the FOMO-fueled discomfort that arises out of my intention to cultivate some degree of invisibility both online and off. Seeing the discomfort (and the thoughts that flow with it) rise and fall over and over again, and eventually, this state transforms from one of suffering and anguish into an object of amusement. Another element of my experiment with Zero-ness is a fascination with home practice and the intimacy that it provides. Without the performative element intrinsic to practicing in a Mysore room, I’m discovering a whole new depth to the linking of breath and movement and it’s addictive. Never thought of myself as the sort of person cut out for home practice, but perhaps in the current incarnation of my personhood, that’s where I’ve ended up.