It’s Friday, and it’s time for some THINKING OUT LOUD. If you’re new here, our THINKING OUT LOUD WANTcast episodes are very loosely structured solo episides of me riffing off of whatever thoughts are on my mind lately.
– The difference between following inspiration and following an aesthetic
– Being a tourist in your own city and what kinds of life lessons that brings up
– Being a good person vs making sure a lot of people THINK you’re a good person
– Body pride + mental well-being
…and SO much more.
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WHEN I WAS 12, I read the book The Giver by Lois Lowry. A sort of Brave New World for the tween set, it’s about a confined society in which everything is Just So all the time. It’s a society that’s been converted to “sameness” – a plan that has eradicated pain and strife. Everyone is identical. No one feels. No one judges. No one’s flawed. No experience, no emotion, no hunger for life. Just…predictability.
I think that most of my classmates empathized with the times the main character, Jonas, felt weird for being different (how much more tweeny can you get?). I, however, empathized with how angry Jonah felt when he started to see – really see – how phoney Sameness really was.
Perfection is a hoax. The allure of being perfect is the greatest con, the greatest scheme ever devised. Forget about the Photoshop, the glossy pages, the television even. Perfection is a stagnant ideal and a consummation of all we find unsatisfactory. It’s an artifice to fool ourselves into believing that there’s an excuse or that we’re failing. That is perfect, They are perfect is internalized and morphs into This is not perfect. I am not perfect. Perfection is conditional love. It’s an invisible benchmark and a thick glass ceiling. It’s the expectation and the idealization of the absolutely monotonous. It’s a lonely, one-dimensional load of crap we think we need in order to feel special.
Perfection is a pile of you-know-what from both ends of the spectrum; doesn’t matter how you look at it. We live in a world where the sweetest apples are discarded for a touch of brown, where we inject plastic into the lines we’ve earned from reading novels late into the night, where we over-sterilize and under-appreciate.
And then there are the people who seem to be constantly extolled for their beauty, their wisdom, or their achievements. Their existence is idolized, their lives an exercise in perfection maintenance. And that…that is a huge burden to carry, too. It’s immense, unreasonable pressure to stay at a certain age, look, job and caliber indefinitely. Because what if – no, when – we don’t? What happens when we falter – or maybe just aren’t astonishingly mind-blowing every single second?
Will we still be loved?
The word “perfect” has haunted me my entire life. When I was in middle school, I would be called perfect as a taunt. I didn’t have braces. I liked to color-coordinate. I got good grades. My awkward stage was mild. Sounds great, huh? Yeah. Not really. I felt detached and alone. I felt I could not be myself; God forbid I spoke out of turn or mismatched a sock. Just like Jonas in The Giver, I saw how fabricated the idea of perfection was, but didn’t know how to convince people otherwise. There was an immense discomfort in knowing I was looked at as someone who had everything together, and that that was both desired AND detested. Trying to convince people I wasn’t always backfired, since perfection was so ingrained in my identity to others. It was weird for me to be perfect but wrong for me to be flawed.
But the most uncomfortable thing for me was that my biggest taunts were also my highest praise. I was told I was pretty, I was told I was smart, I was told I was sweet, and I was told I was talented. I wasn’t ever forced to be those things – no stage parents in my household – but it was obvious the value they had. Plus, the alternative was scary. When you grow up in a culture that puts people down for fun and thrives off ofcasual negativity to get through the day, how does anything but perfect seem like a viable option? There was currency in perfection…as well as immunity. I felt that.
Balance was virtually impossible.
How was it that the very thing I equated with love and worth from my family and mentors was the thing I equated with loneliness and weirdness when it came to my friends and peers?
Some would have rebelled. But no – I didn’t want to rebel. I just wanted to relate. So I downplayed my assets and kept them locked away. At the root of it, I feared loss. I wanted to guarantee love, but at the same time wanted to be the full range of myself – which included the dark and messy parts. Please let me be normal, I’d silently beg. Do not love me for my light, because it sometimes gets dark in here and I can’t bear the loss when you realize that.
What was the most interesting is when I started to focus on feeling special instead of focusing on the whether or not others THOUGHT I was special. I let my guard down in front of people. I took myself very seriously but took the world a whole lot less so. I cried over boys and told people who hurt me the way that I felt. I opened up about being melancholy for what seemed like no reason and realized there were way more people like me than there were not. My dark and messy wasn’t all so dark and messy after all. I was just, asGlennon Doyle says, “a feely person in a messy world.” I began to realize that only I could determine my value, and only I could know what was my rightest right. I stopped using the word “perfect” to describe people and things and started to call them “perfect-for-me.” I stopped feeding off “perfect” and living on purpose.
I am wary of perfection. The ones who make it their life’s mission to be perfect, I’m onto them. There is something deeper there, there is something hiding and some voice inside that once told them that the only way to be is to be flawless. Because big voices and unique souls and feely people are risky to a messy world that likes to put things in cramped little boxes that are easy to define and file away. Nothing is intriguing when you fit into Sameness.
Whenever I see these people, I want to take them aside and hug them and tell them just to Be. Just BE. Be on purpose. Be a contradiction. Be extreme! Whatever you are and whoever you are, be extremely YOU. At the end of the day, what else is there left? The people who know how to live are absolutely flawless in their quirks and extremes. They’re certainly not afraid to mismatch their socks or disagree with the world.
The idea that perfection gets you a prize is a big fat lie, and the thing is that we ALL KNOW IT deep down. Because those beautiful on-purpose souls, who are extremely and unquestionably themselves, those are the people we’re all ultimately drawn to in the long run. Not the ones who homogenize their lives to be Just So. Because this is not sameness. This is life. In all its extremities and nuances.
What makes you special isn’t someone else’s declaration that you’re special. What makes you special are the exact things that end up making you feel as if you’re living with the entirety of yourself. Find those tiny details and idiosyncrasies that make you you, and use them to support and enhance the extreme You-ness of the way you Be. It isn’t about “perfection” or “flawed” or whatever’s the opposite. It’s about being unquestionably yourself.
Forget about the Sameness, forget about utopia. There is no better person to be, no better place to live, than Oh-So-On-Purpose.
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One day back in early January, I saw a post from today’s guest that said something unnerving: that every single woman she’d worked on (she’s a bodyworker) since November had experienced some sort of trauma related to the election.
…Obviously I knew I needed to have her on the WANTcast.
This got me thinking about not only the political climate, but trauma in general. How we deal with it, how it lives in the body, and maybe the very most mind-boggling, how many times we don’t even know it’s there.
Trauma isn’t always a car accident or violence. Trauma can take on many forms.
So how does that impact us on a daily basis?
And do we even realize it?
In this season of the WANTcast, I am determined to be a little bit bolder and expose you to different stories, ideas, techniques, tricks, methods, and practices that are helping others move forward fearlessly in their lives and can maybe do the same for you – or at the very least, which is not something to take lightly, get you thinking outside the box.
Some of them might be sort of familiar. Some of them might blow your mind. Some might be toeing the line of what is “acceptable” to talk about and what isn’t.
Today’s episode with bodyworker Pamela Samuelson details ALL of the above. From how trauma lives in the body to what YOU can do to let go of negative energy to the taboo form of therapy that even I was a little nervous to talk about when Pam brought it up to me….we really go there.
I’m no stranger to sweat therapy: I hit the gym on the regular. My running shoes are practically a second set of feet. I’ve never been one to turn down a chance to get down (dog) – heck, I’ve been teaching spin classes since people thought it meant you go to a class and turn around in circles for 45 minutes on end (for real. people used to ask me if that was what a spin class was).
I’m well aware of both the physical and mental benefits of getting my heart rate up on the regular, and consider fitness more of a lifestyle habit than a to-do to get to-done.
So why, then, do I wake up some mornings feeling like the last thing I want to do is get moving?
According to catchy headlines and fly-by-night trends, we’re supposed to sweat it out the same way no matter the season: with intensity, with drive, and with an all-or-nothing mentality that promises slimmer thighs!, better sex!, and brighter moods! 365 days a year. We force ourselves into routines for the sake of routines, not taking into account that we are living, breathing, changing beings who experience enough physical, emotional, and spiritual shifts in a mere day to fill up a week’s worth of SoulCycle classes by 12:01pm on a Monday afternoon.
Study after study shows us that exercise can boost our mood, help our bodies clear out toxins, and make even the most everyday of activities seem a whole lot easier (hello, five-story walk up apartment). But when you’re feeling fatigued, uninspired, or just plaindown-in-the-slumps, scientific facts don’t help all that much. And the “accountability” factor of having a class to make or a trainer to see isn’t always a surefire recipe to get amped up.
The solution: You’ve got to make your workout work out for you.
I’ve definitely struggled with this sincemoving across the country. Not only was I not used to the seasonal shifts, but I had to completely restructure my schedule, top to bottom. This definitely included the way I moved. I loved exercising outside, which I didn’t have many opportunities to do in LA – one point, NYC! The gym was also a huge part of my community on the west coast, and I found that the NYC gyms where I felt that were NOT the ones that were the closest to my house. And then there was rain, there was snow, and there was that huge dramatic shift in early November when I didn’t even want to leave the house let alone break a sweat. Thankfully, ten months in, I’ve figured out my roadblocks and how to move through them in order to get moving.
Feeling blah? I feel you – and there’s no need to letnegative self-talk stand in your way. Here are five ways to set yourself up for success and motivate yourself to exercise, no matter how you feel:
1) Give yourself options. Ever notice that the more often you do something extreme, the more your body starts to want its next hit? It’s kind of like that with fitness. When it comes to working out on a down day, it’s important to feed your cravings, not your addictions. That could mean foregoing your usual five-mile run for a meditative walk in the park. That could mean modifying your burpees in your HIIT sesh so there’s no push-up involved. That could mean trading in plank for child’s pose. Knowing you have options within the workout you choose removes that all-or-nothing feeling and gives your body what it actually wants (feeds the craving) vs. what you think it SHOULD be wanting (feeding the addiction).
2) Have a Plan A…Plan B…Plan C….Plan D… I love to run outside. But I know myself, and there are certain situations in which even the most persuasive person I know (hi mom) wouldn’t be able to convince me to haul you-know-what out in the open air. If you’ve learned how to psych yourself to run in brutal heat, icky rain, or I-can’t-feel-my-face cold, more power to you. Me? That’s a big NOPE in my book.
In the past, I’d either force myself to brave the elements or skip out altogether. Not only was the former potentially dangerous and the latter a surefire way to make me a crankypants for the rest of the day, but neither of those options had to be the solutions! Now I know to always have a Plan A, B, C, even a Plan D for making my workout work for me. Running outside not an option? Use the treadmill. All the treads already taken at the gym? Hop on an elliptical. No cardio equipment available whatsoever – or it’s just too miserable to leave the house in the first place? Say hello to my fave,customizable self-confidence boosting workout. Having multiple options at the ready, I’ve found, ensures I can make a decision that’s right for me no matter the circumstance.
3) Wear what makes you feel good. Many fitness pros and motivational coaches will recommend that a surefire way to get amped to work out is wear a rockin’ piece of fitnesswear. And that’s solid advice. Heck, a whole activewear revolution is happening because of that exact school of thought!
The problem is, sometimes that’s not what actually makes us feel our best – especially if we’re feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. When I’m feeling down on myself and physically uncomfortable, I wear clothes that have a little more “give” to them. Sometimes, I throw on my fiancé’s old t-shirt and call it a day. Point is: if your fitnesswear best makes you feel rockin’, rock on! But if an old concert tee and stretchy pants from 2008 make you feel great, that’s great too. It’s much easier to get in a productive – and pleasant – workout when you’re less concerned with the way you look and more invested in the way you feel.
4) Make playlist presents for yourself. When I find music I love, I become borderline obsessed. So muchso, in fact, that I’ll listen to an entire album or playlist on repeat for weeks, then move onto another set of songs for another few weeks after that. And so on, and so on. That first time I listen is always the most exciting – so what I’ve learned to do is create a playlist for myself (or download an entire album on Spotify) and promise myself not to listen until my next workout. This works with playlists, genre “stations” on Spotify or Pandora (I’m all about the “90s Smash Hits” right now), even podcasts. Giving yourself something to look forward to within the workout setting is a great way to trick yourself into putting the work in and having a blast in the moment.
5) Give it a REST. Okay, so this one might seem counter-intuitive…rest to motivate yourself to exercise? Isn’t this a recipe for a negative talk spiral? Actually, it’s the exact opposite. I’m not talking about resting when you’ve got adrenal fatigue or are overtraining – which, obviously, require rest. I’m talking about letting yourself off the hook. If you’re constantly pressuring yourself to “be motivated,” how will you ever get there? Just like with food, your decision to exercise (or not exercise) is not good or bad – it just IS. Yes, sometimes it’s necessary to just get up and do it even when you’d rather be binge watching Orange Is The New Black on your couch. But at the same time, it’s necessary to train yourself to cut yourself some slack. How can we ever develop a healthy relationship with our body if we’re constantly putting the pressure on it to look, act, and do things a certain way? In my experience, this is a breeding ground for guilt and exercise addiction. Give yourself the space to breathe – you might be surprised by what happens when you start to approach exercise as one of many opportunities to feel good, not one sole chance or obligation to do things the “right” way.
WANT YOURSELF: Now, you: I’d love to hear how you motivate yourself to exercise when you’re just not feeling it. Is there a specific trick you’ve got up your sleeve? Is there a song or playlist you’ve go that gets you going no matter what? Leave a comment below – your sweat-positive strategy might be exactly what someone else needs to get them spinning in the right direction. Literally or figuratively ;)
It’s been two weeks in my new home across the country, and I’ve felt a shift happen. An actual, physical shift.
In my body.
It feels good.
It sounds superficial and petty, but it’s not: the way I feel is directly linked to the way I carry myself in the world. I find myself waking up earlier, winding down later, walking quicker, smiling more, and marveling at just how wonderful life seems to be.
“Life is so much better right now,” my inner voice coos.
“So don’t sabotage it.”
…Well that got hostile really fast.
That positive voice in my head isn’t an optimist – it’s an opportunist.
Sound familiar? That’s because a little over a year ago, I wrote the same exact words with a different spin in relation to my negative self-talk: when it starts to rear its headstrong head, I’ve got to fight tooth-and-usually-unmanicured nail to not let it take hold and stake its claim.
But today, we’re talking about the positive talk – part TWO of the equation. Seems crazy, right? Why on earth would I want to keep my positive talk in check? If i’m having a “good body day” – or, as we most often think of it, a day that’s NOT a “bad body day,” then shouldn’t I just ride that wave?
I almost feel guilty for loving it here in NYC as much as I do. I mean, don’t get me wrong – L.A. is my blood and lifeline. But being here reminds me how important it is to define myself for myself. L.A. has so much I associate with others – sitting there mold, their energy. Checking myself and my energy to fit to size. Living expectations I’ve set for myself based on the expectations I’ve seen around me. When in reality, I dream bigger, and live bigger, than L.A. really suits me at this point in my life. And I can feel that shift manifesting itself in my body.
My body feels so much better here in general. To be completely transparent, my clothes fit better, I’m way less inflamed, and get this: I’m actually proud of my legs! And because I’m highly sensitive to the shifts within myself, I’ve got this spring in my step that makes me oh-so-tempted to say, You’re BACK, baby.
But did I really go anywhere? I know – because, life – that it’s not like I’ve been gifted some magic solution. Yes, this body that feels amazing IS my body – but so is the body of yesterday. So is the body of Los Angeles. So is the body on her period, overtired, overworked, overtaxed. So is the body that will go up and down in weight, feel secure and insecure, poof up and slim down. My body is not a fixed object, nor will it ever be.
I’m not jumping to self-sabotage or encouraging anyone to gloss over the times we feel particularly fabulous in the skin we’re in. Far from it. But the second I give my highs the power to define me is the second I give my lows the power to do just the same. For us to develop truly long-lasting, loving relationships with our bodies, we must be willing to accept neither extreme as finite, and instead probe deeper for ways to carry our worth with us always (and subsequently remind ourselves in those moments we’re tempted to forget).
So how do we keep that positive momentum of our “good body days” going, reveling in our fabulosity without overly linking our worth to them? And moreover, how do we use those feeling to help us out when we’re feeling LESS than stellar?
Here’s how to stretch a good body day for yourself so it lasts for the long haul:
1) Notice the tangible things that have contributed to this feeling. Have you been doing anything out of the ordinary – or maybe even been doing something consistently? Maybe some of these things you just started. Maybe you’ve been doing them for a while. But the first step is to know what they are.
For me, I’ve been walking almost everywhere for the last two weeks, which means I’ve been getting more fresh air and sunlight (p.s. I knew smog was a thing in L.A, obviously…but who knew the air would seem SO much clearer here? Metaphor much?).
I’ve also been on way more of a balanced schedule than usual. I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum just in the last year: having very little time of my own and having basically the entire day to decide what I do and when I do it. In the last two weeks, I’ve been filling my schedule with the most important things first, professionally and personally, then allowing the time to figure things out in between. This city is still new to me, and I don’t want to jip myself of experiencing that newness.
2) Notice the emotional effect that all of those tangible things have had on you. How is that thing that’s making you feel good actually making you feel good? I don’t care if the scale says a number you like or your jeans fit better. Because there are many days we weigh X amount or our clothes fit better or we haven’t changed at all and we STILL feel like crap and pin it on our bodies. What is the emotional effect that whatever’s happening right now is having on you?
Back to my example: I’m walking around a lot, so maybe my legs are getting more toned…but hey, maybe I’m just noticing it for the first time (funny how we don’t always see ourselves when we’re right in front of our own eyes). What’s making me feel so good is the fact that I’m using my body – that I’m moving, period. I’m moving without my movement being tied to exercise or steps-per-day. I’m using my body as my vehicle instead of something I’m just toting around.
In regards to my schedule, I’m filling my days more intentionally. Maybe not every decision is within my preferred time frame per se, but every decision DOES serve a very distinct purpose. I’m realizing that in this city, there is no room for wishy-washiness. It will keep moving without you if you sit and stew. But hey, maybe this has been how life has been all around – I’m just letting it sink in for the very first time. I’m still not the spontaneous type, but when I’m forced to go out and make decisions because I’m beholden to simply the expectations I’ve set for myself, what do I do? That feeling of making shit happen – at least striving for it – makes me feel good from the inside out.
One more thing? I’ve had more present interpersonal time. Friend dates, work meetings, and definitely within my relationship. I cannot even begin to tell you how thrilling it is to be experiencing this all alongside Jeremy. We’re both pretty mindful and introspective, but this journey is really reminding both of us how much every day can be an adventure if you open your eyes in wonder to the world around you. Sure, we’ve had some tough moments since we’ve been here – picking up and moving your entire life into a new environment will definitely trigger any pair to test each other on the basic tenants of who they are – but we’re beginning to find our own perfect balance between enjoying both the familiar/routine and the exploration (instead of making routine our default when we’ve got time to spare or forcing exploration when we’d rather curl up with a movie). We’re both still busy. But our time together doesn’t feel like in-between moments – it feels like THE moment.
3) Ask yourself what you can replicate when you feel crappy. No, not everything will be able to happen at the snap of your fingers. Maybe it’s pouring outside. Maybe you’re slammed with meetings all day. Maybe you’re stuck in a 3-hour commute. But take a look at what’s helped you feel so wonderful: what can you replicate for yourself when you’re having a bad body day?
With this one, it’s important to dig deep and be brutally honest with yourself. The easy answer for me, in this case would be to “take a walk” and “make time for my relationships.”
But I know that forcing myself to take a walk around the block does NOT work for me. It feels manufactured, like a chore, and far from anything enjoyable. But walking to run errands instead of driving or taking the subway? That I can do. Because it’s not really about the walking. It’s about feeling useful. About feeling like I’m my own vehicle.
Sometimes, as an introvert, the mere act of making more plans than I already have on tap makes me feel depleted. My go-to solution? Talk about the deep stuff. Whether that means calling one of my girlfriends for a no-holds-barred phone sesh or jamming with Jeremy over a glass of wine and the tough questions that make us think, finding the nuance and newness in the small moments always helps me feel better about everything in life.
4) Celebrate the moment like it’s the last time you’ll feel this way. What if we shifted our focus around our bodies like we do around the special events that happen to us? What if this great body day, just like our meh or even “bad” body days, was just a part of our story?
I’m not saying to negate how you’re feeling and tell yourself that this is the only time this will happen. I’m saying that the gratitude and #blesseds we use when we recognize the high highs in our lives should be applied to our bodies, too.
When we are feeling awesome, we tend to either downplay it or associate it with our “true” selves. We are back. This is who we really are.
And when we are feeling like crap about our bodies, we place blame like it’s betrayed us. We’ve strayed from the norm.
But if our bodies are always in flux, then what IS the norm? We might prefer to feel bangin’, but that doesn’t mean that that’s our default state. We have no way of knowing our default because we are constantly in transition. Even if you’re feeling awesome about your body, it doesn’t mean you’re “back to normal.” Just like with money and feeling like a broke joke when your account is low, you can’t build up your abundance if you don’t know what makes you feel abundant in the first place.
The more we practice gratitude for highs and allow them the space to shine, the better we become at bringing them back when we feel they’re lost.
Getting into slumps, funks, and ruts is a part of being human. So are successes, flying high, and feeling badass. It’s how we choose to approach these moments, the high highs and low lows, that determines the lasting effect they’ll have on us. In our bodies and in our lives. They’re the same, really.
Each day, you’re handed opportunity to navigate it all. I hope you seize it.
She stared at me with an ice sheet over her eyes, a look that darted back and forth and when it hit me it seared right through and past me. If you do yoga every day, or every week, how is this kind of glare even possible? I thought. I always think this, because honestly, I see it a lot.
I lay on my mat today with my hair pulled up in a tight bun, a hairdo I hadn’t visited in years. I used to pull it up with my bobby pins and my baby hands, freakishly long locks still wet from my quick hop into the shower after my early morning workout before 8am ballet class.
Those tight buns and suffocating leotards killed me. They hugged everything.
We were forced to scrutinizingly stare in the mirror at not only ourselves but others, we were forced to do the same poses over and over and over and over until the combo was second nature.
I could not do most of them.
My legs were too muscular, my arches too low, and my knees ever so slightly bow-legged which is apparently something that could have been fixed when I was a baby but thankfully my parents opted to keep me just the way I uniquely was (I love you, mom and dad!). My lower back hyperextended naturally, which no one told me and no one thought to work with me on, so I was just ordered to tuck my pelvis more and more and more and my insides cried as everything just felt completely stiff and I looked at myself in the mirror next to the flat-chested straight-waisted kid bodies and my overdeveloped womanly self felt even less like a dancer.
And then I got skinnier. And my hair pulled back tighter. And I at least had that, I thought, at least I look the part.
And I felt so alone.
Everyone was extreme and extroverted and childlike in the way an undergrad should be, honestly, and I was so sad I did not fit in. I kept doing the battement tendus to the front, side, and back, over and over and over again.
I became so used to a heavy bias towards routine, no balance. I fell in and out of love with my body by the day, I would eat the same things over and over and do the same workouts over and over and wear the same clothes over and over, and when I fell out of order I would fall into such deep depressions I would close myself off from any sort of interaction with the world and I would just snap.
I know exactly when the turning point happened: it’s after I started doing yoga with mirrors in front of me. These mirrors, they weren’t like the ballet mirrors, forced upon me and picking apart my every move. These mirrors stood there with a smile, completely optionally allowing me to face myself and only myself with no outside dialogue to distinguish right from wrong.
I know exactly when the turning point happened: It’s when I started doing yoga that was different each time. It’s when the cueing that was funny and personal if flubbed, sequencing that fit the mood and themes of the day, classes in which I was guided on how to work with my body to find my individuality, not against my body to conform to a molded chorus line of asana.
I know exactly when the turning point happened: It’s when my eyes were opened to the fact that everyone’s hip joint moves differently, so not everything is one-alignment-fits all. It’s when teachers were allowed to ramble and quote and use phrasing unique to what resonated with their classes, use sanskrit if they liked (or not), use music if they liked (or not), sing if they liked (or not).
I know exactly when the turning point happened: It’s after I was given guidance in kind words, in helping hands, in hundreds and thousands of poses and variations and modifications so I could be okay with both my strengths AND my weaknesses. Because how do we HONESTLY know that feeling of true triumph we can count on if we just homogeneously flow through it all; if we don’t know what it is to have those poses that are unfamiliar or change shape (literally and figuratively) day by day?
I know exactly when the turning point happened: It’s after I realized that a lot of the trendy classes being offered were actually an exclusive “in-crowd” who constantly tried to top one another with their impressive balances and their superhuman-like physical practice, a crowd that talked at and not to you, a crowd that left anyone below them in the dust.
It’s after I realized that absolutely NO yoga class is “too slow” if you are not afraid to sit with yourself.
I know exactly when the turning point happened: It’s after I quit going to places that forced the same sequences over and over and over again, the places I did the same set of poses over and over and over and over again in class. They argued it was a way to build confidence by developing expertise. I will always argue it was a way of developing and breeding addiction in addictive personalities.
And so of course I understood the ice-sheet eyes. Of course those who are used to the same set of fast-paced frenetic sameness or competition based cliques “don’t like” other kinds of yoga. It’s addiction and fear talking. You genuinely cannot hold onto grudges or contempt when you have chosen to meet yourself.
Even the people who have hurt me, cheated me, taken advantage of me, situations that continue to cause me more stress than I feel I can sometimes deal with…I hold no lasting grudges, because I know that the only one who can keep me in that sameness is myself. I cannot control my circumstances but I sure as hell can control my level of awareness and my actions. Some people and occurrences drive me insane, sure, but I choose to see those instances as small dust speck under the blanket of a good heart or necessary hurdle or underlying loneliness and desperation.
I’ll shoot you straight: If you are resentful and do nothing to change either your exterior or interior, you have not met yourself. If you go back to the same coping mechanisms over and over again with the same results over and over again, you have not met yourself. If you keep opening the same doors over and over and OVER again, there’s a whole untouched hallway ahead of you – and you have not met yourself.
I sat cross-legged at the end of class, my elbows grazing the curves in my torso and my thumbs finding their way to my heart through the sweat and muscle and DD-heaviness of what my sports bra was trying with all its might to hold in place. I felt my arms at my sides, three times the size of my once wispy limbs; my legs muscular and probably even less ballet-friendly than almost a decade prior. I hadn’t felt so hot about myself all week, but I had reminded myself that being highly sensitive and proprioceptive is a good thing; I had not freaked out because I knew this too would pass.
I had trusted myself to not know everything that was coming.
I had trusted myself to learn, to listen, to be affected, I had trusted myself to cry and release when needed. I sat with my legs crossed in my skin-clinging workout clothes, ones that show every curve and every protrusion and every little dimple, I sat there with my hair tied tightly in that little tiny updo, and I trusted with all my might then let it go.
And I sit here now typing with my leggings still on and that bun still sitting atop my head, because I haven’t pulled it out, because it was never too tight in the first place. I sit here knowing my body will go through so many incarnations and I’m going to treat it like it’s royalty no matter what. I sit here thinking about the new quotes that were read, the jokes that were made, the funny analogies and the personalities in the room that were all of different levels and at times all did slightly different things.
I smile because I have not only a yoga practice on the mat but off the mat as well (life, yo) that strives to be authentic, layer-peeling, free of addiction and crutches and sameness, and I feel as if I am gliding down the hallway, door by door.