Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Unchained and Unfettered

I was just feeling constrained by a deadline and a task that I have been struggling to complete this week, and as I bemoaned yet another evening of writer's block, I realized, yet again:  I chose this; I'm writing this narrative I'm living; I'm the only one making these decisions.  AND, no matter who we are,  no matter what our life conditions are, this is true.  There is always a choice.  

One of my favorite moments of late was a concrete feeling that I had no one to blame but myself for ANYTHING.  Let me qualify this, though:  I'm not blaming myself for anything, nor do I want to change anything.  This feeling was in reaction to a concrete experience that reminded me that I own every decision I make, every reaction I have, and every feeling I dwell in.  I also realized that blame and victimhood is so pervasive in our culture that it's hard to escape the narrative.  People all around us buy in at any given time--hell, I've done my share of paying the price of this.  It's so boring.  The counter-narrative--free will, ownership, agency--is somehow less popular (possibly because it requires us to acknowledge full responsibility for ourselves), but it's a hell of a lot more fun.

I think we should celebrate this counter-narrative.*  How about a few, "Hell yes I just fully screwed up...and guess what?  The world did not come to an end!!"  How about, "Hell, yes, I just did something so awesome it surprised even me!"  How about, "This is really who I am and I'm not afraid to let you see this...and if I am?  That's okay too."

*Please know that I am not at all intending this to be a statement that relates to critical race theories, nor am I intending to make light of social inequities.  We all know that the growing distance between haves and have nots is exponential and tragic.  I am appropriating this idea for those of us who inhabit a privileged space and who sometimes forget.

"Burn through the fog, break through the facade. Dissolve all the walls just let em all fall. Shake off the chains till they all fall away. Feel the lotus unfold inside the ribcage" - MC Yogi

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Second Guesses

I'm engaged in some ridiculous second guessing these past two days.  I decided to commit to a long-term place to live in my new city and start building a space I want to inhabit.  However, after being head over heels excited for the past week, a couple of snags have arisen (that are too silly to go into), and this has shaken my resolve.  Monkey mind ensues with an endless stream of "maybe's":  Maybe I should have just been content with what I have.  Maybe I could have found other ways to make myself feel more at home here.  Maybe I could have grown more comfortable in my current space if I had just given it a little more time...  Maybe...

And I recognize that this is something I need to work through yet again.  I am able to make decisions about what I believe is best for me, but sometimes I spend an inordinate amount of time second guessing these decisions, and, then, after all of the fretting, they work themselves out, but not until after I've worked myself into a frenzy.  There's nothing life or death in the decision I've made, of course, but I seem to have imparted to it more power than is necessary.   I don't want to have to make any more major logistical decisions for a while, but I felt I needed to make one more major logistical decision in order to move myself closer to the stasis I'm seeking...  It's a quandary.

And this brings me back to an idea I've been mulling the past couple of days about the role of self-talk--and the fact that very often, the language we use when we are talking to or about ourselves isn't as kind as it would if we were describing a friend.  I know for a fact that some of the language I've used in the past 24 hours, to describe my decision has been language I would never think, let alone speak, to a friend.  And there are so many great quotes in the loving kindness world about self-love and self-care--ideas about removing barriers for love, practicing cultivating loving kindness for all sentient beings, etc., etc.  But the person we walk around with all day long?  Us?  We tend to not be as thoughtful in our word choice and thought patterns.

I don't know where this leaves us, except with a more intentional practice to be a little gentler with ourselves.  I'm going to work on this.  In the meantime, however,  I'm also going to try to remember that I've spent the past two months looking for exactly what I found, and it's all going to be okay.  It always is.

Friday, February 1, 2013


I'm new to the practice of Yin Yoga.  A few weeks ago, I was running late leaving work, and I missed my usual vinyasa class, but made it to a later class that I knew nothing about.  What ended up happening was that I got exactly what I needed from it.  Slow, intentional, deep postures with a narrative to accompany them provided by one of the most thoughtful yoga instructors I've come across to date.  I have stuck with this class each week when I'm in town, and it provides a nice counter-balance to my generally yang life.

This back story is intended to situate the learning from this week.  For the record, I'm not a huge fan of acronyms, and I tend to avoid them.  However, a little word play, I'm game for.  The instructor shared an idea, from a yin yoga text by Bernie Clark, regarding intentional and open-hearted living.  That's not, I don't think, as she framed it, but it's certainly what I took away.  She went through a series of thoughts and words that corresponded with the letters in "awaken."

The first, "A"--to allow.  The first suggestion being that we allow what is to be what is, and to acknowledge the truth of it.

The second, "W"--to watch or witness.  This is the most difficult for people, I think.  I have a tendency, when in new situations, to take in so much and to need so much processing time, that people have to prompt me to speak and to say what's on my mind.  I need this time to quietly take in what's around me, because there is so much I do take in.  I felt validated that this was a recommendation.

The third, "A"--act.  To act once you've taken the time to notice and acknowledge.

"K"--Keep going.  This is a tough one, yes?  This persistence that is only possible because of our resilient natures.  I've been doing a lot of thinking about resilience of late, and, thankfully, my own has resurfaced.

"E"--Expect goodness.  I don't love the word "expect," but I do appreciate the encouragement to always cultivate an attitude of positive presupposition for the world.

And, the lifelong quest--"N"--Now.  Live now.  I saw a lovely cartoon the other day where a dog was looking over at his human companion who was struggling to meditate, and the thought bubble above the dog said, "What else is there?"  Yes.

I've been allowing and watching for the past few months as I've made a rather huge life transition, for what seems like the millionth time in a short while, and I am so happy that I have reached a point where I feel it's time to act.  And I know that my actions are not a rejection of living in the now, but an extension of all that I've noticed and allowed to be.  There are these moments when I feel so truly awake and giddy even, and these, thankfully, are the emotions that are arising after the long wait of the settling in and figuring.  I'm tweaking the dials just a bit so my full self can come full circle in this situation.  And I think these ongoing tweaks most definitely require space and time to plan, so that they aren't reactionary, but they are truly based on what we need in the long term.  Yes.  Now.  I love this idea that I've circled back to this idea of awakening.  And how appropriate it is that we do awaken, literally and figuratively, again and again.