"Soulful Sleep and Breathing to Better Health" - Owaves featured blog 9/24/15
"Lessons, Gratitude, & Fear: What I Learned in My First 1000 Hours Teaching Yoga" - published by Elephant Journal 9/30/15
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HEY! how you guys doin’ on those new year’s resolutions?!
errr, intentions. whatever we are calling them these days. how goes it for ya?
when i first started practicing yoga and was introduced to the idea of “intention setting” at the beginning of class i thought it was some new age hippie shit but i played along, and being the indecisive type A that i am, i decided i needed the perfect intention in order to move forward with the practice. so i’d rack my brain for the perfect little word or phrase that i thought could be invoked like magic to fix, heal and change my life. inevitably 45 minutes into the class and i still would have no idea what i wanted that intention to be. and then i’d get mad at myself for being so indecisive and “wasting” my time in class.
MY BRAIN THO. like i couldn’t even muster some sort of bland version of “let go” or “be present” or something. nahhh instead my head was like this: “pick an intention. come on. what do you need to work on? everything is shit. where do i start? you need to fucking relax. but you’re so lazy. why can’t you get your shit together? you’re 25. that’s an adult. you have no abdominal definition. maybe your intention should be don’t go home and eat half a box of pasta. ugh. tomorrow is going to suck i have all those parent teacher conferences. ok. intention. my intention is to not lose my shit. yeah. that’s a good one. but what am i not losing my shit about in yoga? like how can i use this intention to get abs?....” and on and on and on it would go. and eventually we’d be cued into savasana and i’d be like waiiiiit i didn’t do the magical intention invocation!
eventually the inane intention creation struggle was what led me to what worked for me for years: yoga chitta vritti nirodha. yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. and yo, i’m still working on this. who isn’t? but i digress. it took me many moons to figure this out. my intention became simply undoing the stress of creating an intention. my whole struggle to come up with an intention and the process that ensued in my mind was a metaphor for what i needed to work on in both my practice and my life.
and now we zoom out from the mat to daily life. and i come back to the idea of intention. i had shit on january 1 in mind. like yeah i’ve got things i wanna work on, blah blah. but nothing really stuck out in my mind. so i let the idea of some forced resolution slip out of my mind and knew that eventually something would snap into focus.
and here i sit on january 20 and my mind is full of ideas. bursting at the seams of all the things i want to do, all the ways i want to improve, all the goals i want to crush. and i also notice my inaction. thoughts and intentions are great, but if we stay stuck in our mind space and don’t actually DO anything, well...we’ve done nothing but disturb our own peace. and so i come back to sutra 1.1, back to the intention that paved my yogic path and i remind myself to find and do things to still my mind. when the circus upstairs gets quiet, i can focus on my tangible goals.
so all of this is to say, check in with yourself and if you too are struggling with your new year goals, go back to the source. go back to your mind. go back to your patterns. your behavior. your thought processes. how can you undo behavior that might be hindering your forward motion or progress? it’s so easy to get frustrated, to look outside ourselves and blame everything from coworkers to the weather to our own bodies, so what is it REALLY that’s holding you back?
…are the root of much unhappiness. And I think we know this. So we build walls and protect ourselves with shields of various sorts; we make excuses, we numb ourselves with wine and call it “self care”, we lie to ourselves and we commiserate with others, most often online these days in the virtual reality of social media.
So what happens when you just allow whatever is in front of you to fully be there? Without altering it, without changing your perspective, but simply dropping into your feels center and reacting in whatever way intuitively occurs? We are so adept at creating overrides when shit feelings come up because we don’t like feeling unhappy. We don’t like feeling uncomfortable. We don’t want to feel afraid, nervous, unstable, unsure. Feelings on the spectrum of stress and sadness physically make us feel unwell and as humans we are programmed to override these feelings.
So what happens when we don’t? What happens when we let ourselves sit in our funk? How do we use the shit ass feelings as fuel to propel us forward or as fertilizer to help us grow?
I honestly think some people don’t know how they feel because they are so good at overriding, they are so good at shifting their thought patterns and blocking out the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings, they are so good at staying busy, that they don’t have time to let the darkness creep in. They combat darkness their entire lives with different mechanisms of denial and numbing, whether it’s constantly surrounding themselves with other people, stirring up distracting drama, alcohol, working too much, etc.
And this is celebrated. This is touted as strength of character. This is a trait that is actively sought after and glorified. And the ones who feel their feelings and sit with their darkness trying to understand and shed light on their shadows are seen as weird or weak. Which is just a societal defense mechanism, let’s be honest—sure, cast the folks who are trying to authentically understand themselves and show up in this world as whole and fully realized humans as freaks. Keep it bright, sunny, and copacetic at all times because #goodvibesonly!(Can you hear me rolling my eyes through the page right now?)
I digress. Expectations. They set us up for these shit feelings, don’t they? Even if we think we don’t have any expectations, there’s often something lingering beneath the surface and when it fails to come to fruition for whatever reason, we start to feel shitty. Dejected. Depressed. Alone. Misunderstood. And I think that’s what it all seems to come down to, when you really reduce it down and parse it down to the root cause of the feeling, it’s aloneness. It’s that first chakra disconnect. It’s the embodiment of the thought: I don’t belong.
Everything nowadays gets super hyped up. Everything is manicured. It seems like everyone posts pictures on the holidays with their families looking perfect in front of a perfectly decorated table or Christmas tree, which ultimately makes onlookers feel alone, like everyone else lives an idyllic existence and their lives are shit. Don’t fall for the hype. Everyone has their own demons they battle, whether they choose to face them or not. The people out there that are actually facing those demons down and doing the work of being human, feeling the full range of human existence and trying to make something out of nothing…those are my people. I don’t know about you, but those are the people I look up to and want to surround myself with.
And at the end of the day, much of what we want is to feel less alone. To feel needed. To feel desired. To be loved. The absolute best person to start with is yourself. That is self love. That is self care. Drowning your uncomfortable thoughts in whatever your favorite self protection mechanism is, is not. So on this Christmas, whether you celebrate the birth of old JC or not, allow yourself to break free of the binds of expectation, feel whatever comes up, and use that to begin to understand your worth. Because you’re not alone. You’re not the only one who feels not good enough for whatever reason. It’s not just you who feels the need to combat uncomfortable feelings. It’s literally ALL OF US. The more we start to realize we are all connected in a collective consciousness, the easier and more rewarding it will be to show up each day as the realest and truest version of ourselves. But the first step is truly understanding and knowing your own worth. YOU are the Christmas miracle, btw. As my homegirl Glinda says: “You’ve always had the power my dear, you just [have] to learn it for yourself.”
Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals. I love you all.