Friday, December 6, 2013

On just being f*cking nice.

“They’re doing the best they can….” I said.

“Are they? Are the really doing the best that they can?.....” She said.

A question that clearly had answered itself in her mind, as she silently criticized atop her invisible pedestal. The response struck me. The way that a sudden side ache does, sharp, deep and unexpected. We watched as the line of people ahead of us sort of lethargically crossed off less than desirable items on their to-do list, mid-workday. Clearly crunched for time, while certain obligations trumped lunch breaks. One juggled a baby on her hip, feeding him convenience store snacks, begging the clerk to just “work with her” on a payment plan….while another languishly paced, looking down at the ground as if his presence was an apology, his jeans hanging one size too heavy, just like his heart.

I couldn’t see it any other way, they were doing the best they could. I reached back through my index of “this is the best I’ve fucking got,” moments and the mere memory of some made me cringe, considering outsiders were likely scrutinizing when all I needed was a little, nudge and a wink to remind me that this isn’t all of it. This is just a blink. When someone says, “You’re going to get through it,” or at the very least, “we’re going to make the best of it,” you start considering that maybe they’re telling you the truth. Just as when someone fears for you, you think, “well maybe they know something I don’t.” Because, truly, even at the pit of despair, something in us and outside of us wants to believe that it gets better. That finding joy and levity is accessible, not mutually exclusive.

They were doing the best they could. There's a sort of meanness sweeping beneath the surface of our interactions, that we forget from being do disconnected with a screen in front of us how to treat human beings when we’re face to face. When we compare our BEST with the best of others, we’ve already missed the assignment.

Doing the best you can sometimes means getting from point A to point B in one piece. Or remembering to brush your damn hair. Sometimes the best you've got is simply showing up. When you're thriving and firing on all cylinders, flawlessly juggling and feeling like you've finally figured something the time to be even more humble, even more gracious and empathetic. We can all do better, be better, work harder, or do the internal work to get there...but in doing all of that and thinking we are better than anyone else negates all of the above.

People respond to kindness. We’re craving it. We want to share and like and comment when we see something that makes our hearts swell. We just don’t always know how to take our craving for tenderness into the 3D realm. It’s too vulnerable, it’s too, for lack of a better term fragile. To express your desire for basic humanity and sympathy requires a certain level of exposure and sincerity….in a digital time when everything can be manipulated before sharing, exposure and sincerity without a fourth wall feels entirely too powerless for most. So, the cycle perpetuates itself.

Disclaimer: Now, don't think that by being kind means being a doormat either, my friends. Respond with fierceness where necessary. Being kind is not to be confused with being naive, or powerless. ( Unkind people, take note.)

We’ve all done it, more unconsciously than not, when you go out into public and place judgement as a defense mechanism, or as a way to connect on the lowest frequency. Jokes at the expense of others. Misery looking for company to drag down and snuggle up to. Posture for the sake of making people believe we actually have our shit together, more than they do of course. Separation is the simple most unaccountable stance we can take to avoid action, responsibility and empathy.

It's so easy to unknowingly react with judgment on a daily basis and it's these individual interactions, on a singular level that either make people feel good or keep people down.

Be gentle, look people in the eye. Consider that perhaps they’re just going through something and they’ve been somewhere, just like we have. Acknowledge; I feel you, I get it, I SEE YOU, I hear what you’re saying….I understand, you’ll be okay. You don’t have to throw yourself into a tornado of drama, or try to individually mend everyones problems- you don’t have to get involved, period. We figure out our shit when we we’re ready to. Just be supportive, just be kind. Reserve your judgement and consider it a signal that there may be some part of you that could use some softening or healing, too.

I think we could all handle just a little more love this holiday season. Kiss, kiss.

What kindness have you witnessed lately?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

YOGA: Centering, Sobbing and Balancing on Your Eyelashes. Or something like it.

Photo: Noelle Beaugureau 

“There’s no value in digging shallow wells in a hundred places. Decide on one place and dig deep. Even if you encounter a rock, use dynamite and keep going down. If you leave that to dig another well, all the first effort is wasted and there is no proof you won’t hit rock again. ” 

As a sort of unconscious rule to myself, I've refrained from professing my absolute enchantment and love affair with yoga on this blog. Bear with me. I've sprinkled it in here and there, then I consider readers and think, "if I didn't practice yoga, why would I give a fuck?" I mean, right? I don't read running blogs, because I don't run. I don't read food blogs, because I don't cook. You get what I'm saying. The reason that I decided to share what I would generally save as a draft, a morning page, or personal declaration is because, after actually READING a bevy of running blogs and perusing a handful of food blogs, I realize that it isn't about the actual act of running or cooking. It isn't about the ACT of the physical postures or activity, it's about the transformations that occur to the individual experiencing them. It isn't the stride, it's the determination, it isn't the ingredient, it's the creation, the patience.... the growth and nourishment of a thing. As the Sutra above says, it's in the digging, the staying in once place and going deeper, and deeper and deeper, the acceptance of endless growth. Whichever way you may come to it. 

For me, yoga is the soil, from which all creative and emotional vegetation can flourish in abundance. Without the soil the representation of who I am as an individual would be stunted. The branches of my life; my music, writing, acting, adventures...wouldn't grow out as fully with buds to abundant and flowering so vibrant. There's no separation between my practice and the contents of my life, the two are wildly synchronized.

I say wild because, reason number two I've kept my cosmic little love affair hushed is there's a sort of stigma, if you will, attached to one claiming to be a yogi; Do yogis get angry? Do they think they're 'better than'? Do yogis ever get DOWN? Do yogis have a true grasp on reality or are they just climbing a tree somewhere talking to butterflies and bathing their crystals in sunlight? Well. Yes. I do talk to butterflies. And crystals are fucking awesome....however, I recognize that yoga is very much a balancing act, a reminder of the interconnectedness of all emotional shades.

I comfortably embrace the human experience and emotions of anger or ego, confusion and missteps. It's just that with yoga I can come back to something that reminds me of the truth when I've temporarily forgotten. Or rage out.

Ephemeral and everlasting. Totally messy, sobbing in Pigeon or fiercely dancing in Natarajasana atop a Demon, (demon: illusion, ignorance, ego) conquering it with an open heart and balance. The entirety of yoga embraces the paradoxes of life and as yogis, I can accept that we are all parts dark and light.

When I practice I remember, the way we store stories in our hips, is the way we store history in our hips. Our love song to our matriarchs. The same curves the women who birthed us did....Our hips are a tribute to our tribe, to our lineage and the place where we came from, a year ago and a century ago. Whether narrow, or wide, open or closed, they store our present emotional landscape and our ancestral chronicles. Hips are made for dancing, swinging, resting, beguiling...they're the most neglected and the most primary aspect of our practice and our hearts.

When I practice I remember, that there are centers in our bodies with all the answers. The gut. The heart. The third eye. That anything we've needed to know, or are calling upon for guidance is never external....the answers are in our very tissue, bones, blood. The fibers and layers that move us through this experience, beyond the physical. With practice I find that the answer is just below the surface of this shell.

When I practice I remember, there is no better indicator to the strength of your mind than to ask it to do something physically challenging. The stronger your practice becomes, the stronger your mind. The more I doubt my ability to do something, the more necessary I know it is to overcome that doubt.... the physical practice is a microcosm of what is possible in the other areas of my life. Manifesting my fortitude through discomfort physically, allows me to endure with grace whatever happens beyond my control outside of the studio.

When I practice I remember, that everything can be basic, or we can make it complex. That one posture has a million layers. And sometimes, the fundamentals of a posture are enough for the day. The vanilla is good. The raw form, superb. The simplicity, ideal. Not every day calls for the extra push, the inversion or twist....some days need to be simplified. Some "life moments" need only to be organic and pure. The layers never go away.... MORE is always an option, however, it's a better option if you already have a healthy relationship with "simple."

When I practice I remember, that to be in Tree Pose, we all root down the same way, with the same four corners; the expression in which our branches take is individual to us.

When I practice I remember that breath is the antidote to resistance.

You are the Goddess of your flow, the High Priestess of your intention, the Warrior in your story, the only. single. thing there is. Your gaze, or "Drishti," keeps your eyes on your own mat, no different than in life. The instant you're concerned with someone else's "dancer" is the instant you sabotage your own. You only falter, only waiver, only lose your center when you go outside of yourself to find it. 

When I practice I remember that we churn, twist and bend. That there is an innate animalistic sensuality and fierceness in all of us that sometimes just needs a little opening. That BREATHING feels good, that staying when you want to flee is gratifying after the fact, and that our body is built to experience pleasure. 

To every action there is a reaction, to every open there is a close. To every inward turn there is an outward motion. That everything we do is circular, entirely interconnected and ONE.

When I'm uncomfortable I remember, that certain struggles exist for a's not the struggle itself, or the resistance, because the physicality of discomfort dissipates and changes. It's in our perception of the discomfort that we're able to find the growth and ease. By looking at the struggle that is innate when putting your body, or our spirit, through a series of foreign movements through the lens of acceptance, resolve and courage we're able to see the tension as a powerful gift and transcend it.

Most importantly, I remember that everything should begin and end with a prayer and that that prayer is right in the very center of your being. Your heart. Nowhere else. Wherever you go it's right there with you.

Whether it's yoga, running....painting, dancing.... however you find your CENTER is perfect, as long as you're intent on finding and nurturing it. Centered and spicy as always, nama-fucking-ste.