Sunday, December 30, 2012

What's my one-word for 2013 going to be?

"Courage is the power to let go of the familiar."
~Raymond Lindquist

I've been mulling it around for a week or so now, or perhaps really for all the years until this moment in time, to figure out what my one-word theme will be for 2013. A few years back, a friend of mine suggested coming up with these themes rather than resolutions. The theme we each chose would become a focal point for the next 365 days, which seemed much more promising and hopeful than creating resolutions that often set ourselves up for disappointment, failure, or remorse. In the past, m,y words have been "Celebration," "Love," and "Compassion." 

This year? This year's word will be made of two and it'll be, "Power Pose."

I am powerful. We're all powerful beyond measure, but how many of us fulfill our potential? How many of us dare to dream big and be bold? The more that I write for MindBodyGreen, Cozy Orange, updates on my Facebook page, and even my memoir writing blog, the more I realize that we are all truly connected. Each of us, even if we haven't had the exact same experience as one another, share the same underlying human emotions and that is what brings us close. As long as we're able to be vulnerable, to be honest first with ourselves and then with others, to hold space despite how uncomfortable it is not to know what'll happen next, that is powerful.

I like "Power Pose," because it represents what I can do with my body — building up to greater inversions and arm balances. 

"Power Pose" relates to what I will do with my career — publish my manuscript, go on a book tour around the world, create well-attended workshops that genuinely help others. 

"Power Pose" is relevant to how I'll be with myself — love all of who I am, not just the parts that are easy to enjoy, but the aspects of myself that are shadowed, darker, imperfect. 

"Power Pose" speaks to the relationships I'll have — being strong enough to be vulnerable, to find a good man who'll genuinely honor and care for me, to let my friends love me as much as I do them, to be present in my family as it is today and not based on the shared past we all endured.

"Power Pose" is about being of service — how I can be the person who inspires others to ignite their own inner spark.

"Power Pose" is about living fully — by truly letting go of control and surrendering to all that life has to offer, not just what I want from it or in it, because it always comes back to the understanding that the Universe knows better. This or something better. Everything is better when you can stand back and see the bigger picture rather than getting lost in the momentum and minutiae. To be in the wonder of every day.

This year, I don't just want to build upon everything that I've worked for to arrive at this moment in my life, but I want to soar into a new way of being that brings forth all of my gifts, all of my talents, all of my heart in a way that makes life the most fulfilling it has ever been. 

May all of us find our own unique Power Pose and freely show the world what we're made of. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

This reflects more about you than about me.

"When one's has one's hand full of truth
it is not always wise to open it."
~French Proverb

I share a house with three other beautiful women, each of us different ages and more clearly, at different life stages. All of this would be okay, if we could respect where one another currently stands. Yet, the other day, my housemates called a meeting, which I thought would be to talk about bills and responsibilities. It started off as such, but soon turned into the three of them sharing how they feel about how I've changed since I moved in three months ago.

"You're not the same person as you used to be," one of them stated.
"We feel like you're annoyed that we're home," another chimed in.
"We're not trying to gang up on you," the third added.

I listened. I heard their feelings, watched their body language, interpreted what they actually meant. Quietly, calmly, without defense. Everyone has a right to think what they think, to feel what they feel. I explained to them the things that are going on in my life (health issues, a mind-body therapy program, work objectives, interpersonal relationships, and so on) and that nothing I'm doing is designed to offend them or to have them take personally.

"Yes, I was more social when I first moved in, but I was also going through a break up and I was at a different place in my life. Now, my focus has shifted. It doesn't mean that I've become a different person, or that when I am quiet, that I'm upset with you. I'm just in my own world, working on my own stuff."

A couple of months ago, I prefaced to them that my life would be undergoing transitions. They said they supported me. I feel what has morphed the most has been my withdrawing into myself, which I felt was more respectful than burdening them with a relentless retelling of my inner concerns, something I did do, but with a select close few friends.

One of the greatest gifts my ex gave me in the time we were together was to test my will, my resolve, and my conviction. By constantly challenging me with his inability to understand where I was coming from and where I was moving towards, often with a lack of respect or honor for my thoughts and needs, it helped me to stand firmer in my space, as well as learn how not to let someone else's reaction affect me any more than it needed to. Being with him showed how I would not like to treat another human being. These lessons came into play during the interplay amongst the four of us that night, where I could see that what I have to say may not come across.

I mentioned to them that there had been a couple of times where they partied until the wee hours of the morning, knowing I had to work early the next day. Immediately, their response was, "It only happened two times! And we apologized for it!!"

I took note of how quick they were to defend themselves. I was using the example as a way to explain why I have pulled back a bit from our interactions, giving them space to be who they are and in turn, asking for the same respect. I'm not sure if they saw the irony in what they were doing, that though they said they didn't want me to feel like they were "ganging up" on me, that's essentially what they did. Any one of them could have talked to me individually about how they felt versus speaking to one another without my knowledge and bringing this all up as part of their agenda for the night, something I was not privy to. Or, how I told them that I now feel I must be happy all the time in order that they're comfortable around me, to which they said, "No no, that's not how we want you to feel." But actually, it is, otherwise this meeting wouldn't have taken the direction it did and they would've remembered when I had told them months before that I would be looking at things more deeply in my life and it might cause me to be less forthcoming.

It usually takes me a few days to process experiences anyway, and in the days after, I drafted up a couple of emails I did not send. I tend to teeter in the balance between saying something, which could provide growth opportunities for both myself and the other person or let things evaporate on their own. How do you know when to act versus when to put up your hands and say, "Please think what you'd like to think, believe what you'd like to believe, and I will do the same."

I spoke to a few friends and of course friends are likely going to take our sides, but I tend to form relationships with individuals who honestly also point out areas of improvement when I need to make them. In this case, my friends affirmed that by living my life, I am likely reflecting back to them areas of discomfort with themselves, which rather than deal with on their own, they've deflected back towards me.

We are all, every one of us, mirrors to everyone else we encounter. In yoga, I learned that first and foremost to take the finger and point it back to ourselves before we start pointing them at anyone else. My feelings were very hurt, but I've moved through them. I've gained clarity on the situation and seen where I could behave differently that would benefit the greater good.

Now, I'm practicing the art of letting go and continuing to be in my truth with as much respect for everyone else around me. In the end, there may not be a right answer, just an intention to live the best we know how to do. For today, I believe that's enough.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dear Soul Mate...

"You know you have found love
when you can't find your way back."
~Robert Brault

Maybe I never have been in love. I mean, I have. I know that my first love was the first time I experienced all those sensations that songs, poems, and heartbreak are written about. The second time, I thought that I found my true love. The third time, I falsely believed I found the love for the rest of my life. From that point forward, it seemed a downward spiral of giving myself over to men who didn't deserve it.

Of course, I learned lessons along the way. In yoga, we learn that there is never anything wasted. Everything is a perfect opportunity to learn and grow into the next step we are meant to take. Yet. the process of unfolding can be extremely unpleasant at times. 

Now, here I am, excited to meet my soul mate...

I've seen love in other couples. While I know not to base what's happening on the inside by what's being revealed on the outside, I've seen relationships that work, and work very, very well. I know it exists.

A long time ago, I was encouraged to write a list of the attributes that I would like my partner to have. It ended up being quite a long while. Lots of my friends have done the same thing, and when they met their mate for life, they were surprised at how their partner embodied all of the qualities they had asked for. My list has changed over time, but it never seemed like I was able to find that dream guy.

I didn't find the person who is extremely chivalrous, who always opens my car doors, and who treats like I am the most important woman in the world.

I didn't find the person who is very generous with his time, attention, affection and more, offering it to me when I need it most and in all the moments in between. 

I didn't find the person who is spiritually open to greater ideas and exploring different elements of life together. 

I didn't find that person who is creative and intelligent, funny and wise, active and athletic, spontaneous and responsible all blended together.

I didn't find that person who is so extremely thoughtful that he plans romantic dates and trips, leaves me little love notes, make me lunches for the day and breakfast in bed, or goes out and picks up coffee before I wake up, because he knows how happy all of these big and little gestures make me. 

I didn't find the person who balances my alpha, who's a true provider and protector.

I didn't find the person who is irresistibly attractive in all ways to me, and a phenomenal lover to boot.

None of that. Maybe a hint here and there, but none of it in a complete package that makes my heart delight. 

I know he's out there, wondering where I am, just like I'm doing. And, I'm not in a rush, I'd just like to have a greater sense that he exists, so that I won't ever have to compromise all I've ever wanted the way that I have in the past. I get that relationships take work — but not that much work when you meet the right person. And I get that relationships require compromise now and again, but not on core beliefs, principles, respect, honor, and integrity.

I've let myself yield in so many ways, because of old beliefs I've held onto about what I'm worth or what a relationship should be like that I'm now working through all of that, so that I can both receive the best of the best and offer it as well.

My two criteria are fairly simple and it goes both ways: 

1) My partner for life is my very best friend, who I feel absolutely comfortable with and unconditionally loved.
2) My partner for life is truly the best person I know in every regard. 

The thing is, I've been able to manifest my dreams come true in virtually every aspect of my life. For some reason, when it comes to relationships, there seems to be a bit of doubt that I'll be able to manifest the same sort of amazingness. 

This just shows me that there's work I still need to do on my end to ensure that I'm on the right path, that everything within me and around me is in alignment, and to practice faith that the right person will come along at the precise moment it's meant to happen. 

I don't doubt that it'll all come to fruition and this part of my life will be as incredible as everything else. Just because I've been through so many situations where it hasn't turned out well, I sometimes question how it'll all come to pass. Perhaps, all of those previous experiences were so I could learn what I don't want in order to figure out what I do, which is equally valuable information. It'll also help me appreciate my soul mate to the moon and back when we finally come into one another's lives.

Above all else, I'm excited to meet him. I cannot wait to connect with the person I get to spend the rest of my life with and create our dreams come true... together.

Monday, November 26, 2012

You are a masterpiece.

"To be nobody but yourself 
in a world which is doing its best, night and day,
to make you everybody else
means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; 
and never stop fighting."
~e.e. cummings, 1955

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself,
instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."
~Judy Garland

I occasionally quote the e.e. cummings quote above when I'm teaching yoga, as a reminder to everyone that never before in the history of time and never after this moment will there ever, ever be another you. You were made unique, and as Carl Sagan said, you are made of star stuff. 

A friend of mine recently encouraged me to listen to Joel Osteen and, while I'm not religious, I decided to give it a go, because I highly value her input. It used to be that I was really uncomfortable with the use of the word "God." When I was growing up, my parents and grandmother raised me to be vaguely Buddhist, which meant that I would go to temple a couple of times a year and then light incense during certain holidays, kowtowing on a cushion a certain number of times as a gesture of deference and humility. One of my favorite quotes has always been, "Religion is for people afraid to go to hell; Spirituality is for people who've already been there" and that's truly been my experience.

As I explored my own definition of spirituality, I was encouraged to replace the word "God" with something less charged, an idea of a greater force that I felt more comfortable with. Initially, the only thing I could relate to was Mother Nature, as she was absolutely a power much larger than me, but also one that seemed unconditionally loving and non-judgmentally nourishing. Eventually, as I became a yoga teacher, this idea morphed into "Source" or "The Higher Ones" or one I really like, my "Divine Guidance Team." Now, I feel much more comfortable with using the word "God" as it connotes to me one's connection to Spirit, which I believe can be non-denominational.

I like to listen to podcasts when I'm driving or when I'm running, as those are times when I feel like my physical self is being occupied in a slightly monotonous way, so that my brain has the freedom to focus on audio input. Today, while driving down to Pacific Beach, I listened to Joel talk about the power of I Am statements and how the descriptor that follows that phrase shapes our lives. We invite what we believe, so whether you say to yourself, "I am beautiful" or "I am unsuccessful," you invite more of that into your life. 

Joel relayed a cliche many of us have heard, "You are a masterpiece. When God made you, he threw away the mold." Yet, for some reason, it truly sunk in today for the first time. I never really got the "threw away the mold" part until today. 

Suddenly, I realized that I truly am an original one-of-a-kind and after God/Source/Spirit/Universe made me, He/She/It decided that I was perfect just as I am, and there's no need to make another Judy Tsuei. It affirmed once again that we really don't learn things until we're ready, and as much as we can "fake it til you make it" or practice by teaching it, only when our consciousness is ready to open up our hearts and our minds can we fully embrace anything.

"There's a reason God made you the shape that you are, the race that you are, with your personality the way that it is. You're not flawed. You're perfect. Be proud of the fact that you are made with God's purpose, not in a way that is boasting or that makes other people feel badly. Be strong in who you are, because that is how God made you," is a lot of the gist of what Joel was saying.

Why do we spend so much of our lives trying to fit into a convention that was set by who-knows-who? Why do we shun what makes us uniquely beautiful and divine? Why do we feel badly that we are different, when the people we celebrate the most are the innovators, the artists, the iconoclasts, those people who blaze the trails when there was no path before them? Why are we such hypocrites?

One of the things that happens when I listen to podcasts like Joel Osteen's is that I realize how many of us are in this place, one that Brene Brown describes as: 

"I think there's a growing silent majority of people who are really kind of thinking, at a very basic human level, I don't want to spend my days like this. I don't want to spend every ounce of energy I have ducking and weaving. I don't know where we'll go next, but I really believe with every fiber of my professional and personal self that we won't move forward without some honest conversations about who we are when we're in fear and what we're capable of doing to each other when we're afraid."

So, we're not alone. These thought-leaders and change-makers are sharing messages that are going viral for a reason. They're not just talking to air. They're talking to us. To the people who feel and live and breathe in ways that are searching for a freedom to be who we really are at our core. Vulnerable. Gorgeous. Imperfect. Human. Humane. Godly. Surrendering. Strong. Bewildering. Eccentric. Quirky. Fierce. Humorous. Beautiful. Humble. Innovative. Visionary. And any number of other attributes that speak to your soul, and maybe perhaps, to yours alone.

Just think of that idea — that you are a masterpiece. Every color, every stroke, every hue, every texture, everything is priceless.

I am an artist, creating. It used to be that I felt like I was always a work-in-progress. Now, I feel like I'm ready for my unveiling. And however the audience responds, I've found my place in a gallery with the spotlight ready to shine. No one can take that away from me. I've earned it. I've put in my work. And now, I'm ready to be seen.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

When was the last time you were really brave?

"There is a morning inside you
waiting to burst open into Light."
~Rumi

Lately, I've started writing status updates on my Facebook page that are more in depth, more honest, more reflective. Usually, I save these philosophical and personal explorations for my Hawk and Lily page, where I know the people who've subscribed to receive updates are aligned with what I believe, but somehow and someway, I decided to be more transparent on my personal page too, blending all of my worlds into one of authenticity.

This requires vulnerability. It requires courage and bravery in putting yourself out there and facing risk, because quite possibly, I may be met with opposing thoughts or beliefs. It means showing more of myself in a venue where many seem to reveal what they would like for you to believe. I have doubt, and wonder why I do this, whether it means anything at all, but I'll often receive thank-you's from people I would not expect, people who are grateful that I am sharing what I am, because they are experiencing similar events or interpretations in their own lives in their own ways. 

I don't really know any other way to be. Since I was young, I was very sensitive to all the elements around me, which proved immensely difficult when the environment was intensely abusive at times. Then, when I grew older, boyfriends and friends would tell me that I was being too sensitive and thinking too much. Essentially, they were discounting my feelings and I was letting them do so until I realized that there's a flip-side to everything. My sensitivity and introspection enables me to foster a deep intuitive sense about the world and the people in it to the point that others often ask if I happen to be in their heads. "How did you know?! I was just going to say that!" they often exclaim in surprise.

How I feel on the inside, while sometimes not congruent with what I speak aloud, is definitely noticeable in my demeanor. If I'm unhappy, you'll see it in my face. If I no longer want to be participating in the moment with you, I'll exude a silence that thickly wraps the air. Ultimately, I really can't hide what's happening on deeper levels, which is why in many ways, I've given up trying. This is where the transparency in my writing comes into play. I can't lie through the words that I write — I am not very good at writing fiction, because unless it's based on a real emotion or experience, this making-up-of-things is very challenging for me. My narrative has always been one of memoir, non-fiction, true.

When I saw Gary, my craniosacral healer recently, we engaged in a discussion as we often do about life in general. Through our conversations, we help one another come to life. I talked about how I recently read the qualities of a visionary and how so many elements seem to fit my persona. When I was young, I also knew that I was destined for a greater purpose on this planet. I would be shy to speak this aloud, especially growing up in an Asian-American household, where we were taught that humility and self-deprecation were number one qualities to being a good human being. There is nothing more important than "saving face." Now, having become a yoga teacher and pursuing what I believe is my path, again and again I am reminded internally and externally of this awareness that there is something I am destined to do, so the more I can work on removing my ego and doubt to forge ahead anyway, the more I am being of service to the greater good. 

Gary reminded me that often, people who are meant to play a bigger role in the world (if they choose to answer the call) usually go through experiences that are extremely challenging and painful, because by overcoming those events, they can speak from a place of connection that goes deeper than any studying of books could reveal. Here is where my sensitivity comes into play again, because I didn't just feel what happened. It informed my viewpoint of the world and transformed who I became. Again, this could be seen as both "good" and "bad," but Gary likes to come back to the philosophy of balance again and again. Walk the middle path. Be here now. Sway from one side to another, but always come back to your center.

I love Brene Brown and her words drop into my consciousness like melting gold. Her recent interview with Krista Tippett from On Being (one of my favorite podcasts about spirituality in our culture) offered this about bravery: 

"I always ask a very simple question to people. I just say think of the last time you did something you thought was really brave or the last time you saw someone do something really brave. You know, I think, without question and I can tell you as a researcher, 11,000 pieces of data, I cannot find a single example of courage — moral courage, spiritual courage, leadership courage, relationship courage — I cannot find a single example of courage in my research that was not born completely of vulnerability. And so I think we buy into some mythology about vulnerability being weakness and being gullibility and being frailty, because it gives us permission not to do it."

What she says about creativity is amazing as well. In the end, there are no guarantees. People who live "whole-heartedly" as Brown likes to say, embrace that understanding. Their worthiness and need to be loved is non-negotiable, but it doesn't mean everything is always coming up rainbows in their lives. Instead, they accept that "our capacity for wholeheartedness can never be greater than our willingness to be broken-hearted."

When working with Gary this past weekend, he said that the awareness coming up again and again for me was that the Universe has been patiently waiting and now It's kind of annoyed. It has been waiting for me to live my truth in all of my power and do what I have been put on this world to do, to help much greater numbers of people, yet here I am dilly-dallying in my ego tripping of doubt and how I'm not good enough. He's not the first person to tell this to me, and I know it. I have been asking for kindnesses from the Universe and it has shown me opportunities again and again that I then kind of shirk with "I'm sorry, I'm not ready, never mind." 

"The Universe needs to learn to trust you again, Judy," Gary told me. "Give it a reason to trust you. Let it know that you're ready and willing to do what it takes to live your purpose."

I'm off to meditate now, because that's when I feel re-connected to everything that's real. It brings me to a deeper sense of spirituality, and lets me know how best to move forward. I know there are blessings unfolding all around me, but I've been so lost in myself that I haven't been able to see it clearly. That's why these moments of silence are so important, as it helps me hear what my soul is trying to share with me. 

I pray and ask the Universe for help. When I meditate, the Universe answers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude — even for the tough stuff.

"Remember, we all stumble, every one of us.
That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand."
~Emily Kimbrough

Thanksgiving is coming up tomorrow and I've chosen not to go home to spend it with family, but instead, relax nearby by enjoying the evening with friends. Lately, I'm too tired to do a lot of things, feeling that this mind-body program is requiring much more energy than I anticipated, and every time I chat with Barry, I'm made even more aware of where I am.

Again and again, I've been told that the time right now is all about me. It's about my healing, my thriving, my joy, and my learning how to put myself and my needs first. This is why, last night, I called a guy I started dating and told him that I'm not ready for this. The closer I become to someone else, the more I feel myself pushing away. The heart wants what the heart wants, and right now, my heart wants me to be focused on me. On receiving. On breaking old patterns, so that I'm not placed in compromising situations any longer. On speaking my mind and believing I will be honored and heard.

I practiced the conversation a bit in my head during the day to clarify what was in my heart, but when it came down to it, there was no perfect script for speaking my truth. Instead, there was a bit of sifting and sorting once we were talking in real-time to determine what I actually meant, what I actually need, and what I actually hope will happen.

Luckily for me, he was wonderful about it. He appreciated my honesty. He expressed how much he would like to stay friends and how I've played an important role in his recent life, helping him to move to a city where he's longed to be for awhile. He reminded me that I'm beautiful and that I have so many things going for me, and mostly, to try to be as gentle with myself as I possibly can in this process of healing, surrendering, and letting go.

"This all makes me sad," I said to him softly over the phone.

"But it's all good things that are happening," he encouraged me to see. "Everything is good. This'll get you to where you want to be and your head space is the most important thing. You should be happy, and I want to help support you in that in any way that I can. Really, call me anytime."

How is it that I am walking away with a newfound friend in tow — someone I feel like I connect with in great ways — and still feel like I'm grieving? My hypothesis is that the outcome of my decision is that it brings me back to me, back to where I am now, back to the work I know I need to do to heal my past, embrace my present, and feel emboldened about moving into my future.

While I usually don't mention names in this blog, I'll reveal for the sake of showing how the Universe has my back, that this guy's name is Sonny. After the first weekend we spent together, I was driving home from L.A. and questioning what I was doing. I knew that this period of my life was supposed to be me-time and yet, here was a potentially nice diversion. So, in my car, I asked the Universe for guidance. 

"Should I keep pursuing this thing with Sonny and be open to what happens, or should I refocus on myself?" I said aloud.

I waited and kept my eyes and ears open, thinking perhaps I'd get a text message from him right then and there, or that there'd be another obvious sign. Not less than two minutes later, I find myself driving behind a BMW with personalized plates that read — and I trailed behind this car to take photos as proof to myself — "1SUNYDA."

I leaned back in my seat, simultaneously in shock and not at all surprised. When you ask the Universe for guidance, it really does want to help you out, and being that I've been told I'm a powerful manifester, this wasn't the first time that something like this has happened to me, especially when it comes to driving and receiving messages from other cars.

So, with that reassurance in mind, I kept moving forward in our budding relationship until I found myself at this point with an opportunity to practice tapping into exactly what I need, by being bolder than I've been before about asking for it. Like all the cliches say, the only way to get what you need is to go after it, whether it be through intention or expression or opening up to receiving what you want. As I'm learning with Barry, in the end, the truth is as you see it and energy just flows, so once you're connected to the truth, everything around you begins to align with what's right for you. 

"I'm grateful for you," I told Sonny towards the end of our conversation. During the weekend intensives of hanging out together, our conversations organically inspired back-and-forths about all the things that we are grateful for.

"I'm grateful for you, too," he told me. 

I'm grateful, because I can talk to Sonny about anything — really. And he doesn't have judgment for me. He might have an opinion, one that differs from mine, but he listens and he's supportive. He also provided insight on the fact that what I say I want and how I demonstrate what I want are incongruent, which is also what Barry's been pointing out all along.

"You have a very strong presence," Sonny told me. "And you're really independent. Like, sometimes I'd want to offer to do something for you, but I wasn't sure if you actually wanted that or would get annoyed if I tried or maybe I'd do it wrong? And, when we went out to surf or climb, you always did your own thing, which is totally fine, but it didn't seem like you needed anyone or anything."

Those have been observations echoed by other men in my life. Even though I don't want to be the caretaker anymore and I want to be the one who's cared for, it seems that I keep creating this dynamic because being vulnerable in letting go of control has proven to be more difficult than I thought.

How I am in relationships are awarenesses I'll be soon moving through in this mind-body program with Barry. I've never gotten to be the one who's cared for throughout my life. As the eldest of four children in the family, the mediator between my parents' marriage, and often the slightly older counterpart in relationships, I've always been the alpha. Now, I'd like to experience what it's like to be cared for by a gentleman, because as a woman, I think I'd like it. Then, I can make my decision from there.

I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I know that it's time to meditate a bit more and tap into my greater faith that everything turns out just as it should in its own time. I would really like to know how things are going to end up, that I'll find my soul mate and life will be brilliant as part of a strong partnership, because as hard as it is for me to admit, one of the most important things I've ever cared about in my life is being loved and loving someone else who's deserving. 

"I'd like to end up being with to be my best friend," I told Sonny. Most importantly, I want to be able to say that the man I'm with is the best person I know and that he mutually feels the same about me. But first, it's about knowing who I am and loving myself as much as I expect love to be returned, because as a friend recently pointed out, "You get as good as you can handle." 

I know I can handle a lot of shit — now, it's about learning how to handle the good stuff in abundance. This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for the love that's been shown to me from all the people in my life and from the Universe. I'm grateful I met a good man who I'll hopefully build a strong friendship with.

"I'll be in biking distance from your house," he reminded me, "so I'm available anytime you need it. I know you don't want to be in control, but really, this is up to you. I don't want to get in the way to make things more difficult for you." 

I'm grateful that I am putting myself first and persevering in changing my life to be bigger and more open to the greatness the Universe is ready to offer. I'm grateful to be here. As hard as it feels right now to be moving through the crap and to wish I were already over there, yet acknowledging I'm actually over here, I'm grateful to be steadily moving forward, because as Barry keeps telling me, "The only thing that'll stop you is stopping."

I often teach in yoga class that the quickest way to contentment is to count your blessings. Though I might feel sad right now, my heart believes I did the right thing for me and ultimately for anyone I'm with, because I'm making real room for the right situation or person or place. I'm making room for me, for me to be ready. I know I'm blessed and now it's a matter of letting myself feel it. 

For this Thanksgiving, I wish for all of you to feel blessed in your own ways, too.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Doubt. The opposite of trust and faith.

"For peace of mind,
resign as general manager of the universe."
~Author Unknown

I met my friend at a cafe today, and while the two of us have forged a relationship where we may not see each other as frequently as we'd like, when we do, we realize we have more in common at deeper levels than initially thought. On the outside, our lives are different. Yet, on the inside, how we perceive the experiences around us is very similar. One thing she said to me today that struck a deeper awareness is that my mind-body mentor, Barry, is holding me extremely accountable for everything.

During my chat with Barry today, he asked why I didn't tell him that I felt I needed a break. This homework of releasing admonitions has actually caused a physiological response that had me slightly unnerved. Luckily, I have a lot of friends in different wellness modalities who were able to slightly alleviate my concerns and provide various remedies. 

I was perplexed by his question and furrowed my brows in silence.

"Did you feel like you couldn't challenge authority? Did you feel like you had to keep performing well?" he asked me. "Because there's a way to take a break that serves you, and then there's a way to take a break that doesn't. If you were running a marathon, taking a few moments to drink water or run a bit slower is allowing yourself a break that well help you in the long-run. Yet, if you decided to stop and grab a drink a bar, that's a totally different story. Why didn't you ask me for help?"

"I thought I did," I said with undertones of frustration.

"No, you sent me an email about what was happening. You didn't ask me for anything. You didn't ask for help, nor did you tell me what you needed."

"I didn't know I could ask you to take a break," I told him.

And here is where he pointed out that the stories playing in my head have meant that I truly don't have healthy limits and boundaries. I will go all out 'til the end of days (and this has happened in various relationships and situations that have substantially compromised my health), because I don't speak up for what I need since Barry brought to my awareness today, I don't even know what I need and therefore, have no clue how to ask for those needs to be met.

"This is all mother stuff," he told me, in a matter-of-fact way. "She teaches you how to be in harmony, how to get your needs met."

"Great," I responded sarcastically.

We talked a bit more, and I told him that I don't have doubt that this process we are in together will ultimately work. It's just that I seem to have doubt about everything else. What's going on in my life. Who's in my life. How to get from here to where I think I want to be. 

"Right, that's your admonition. That's what you can work on," he encouraged. "I'm here to help you be accountable, because that seems to be what's been lacking in your life. The adults around you when growing up were not held accountable for their actions, and your eating disorder did not hold you accountable. You set a goal at the beginning of this program for when you'd like to finish, and we've passed that date. That's another thing to look at... the goals that you set."

I felt overwhelmed. When I told my friend about the work Barry and I were doing, she remarked that he truly is keeping me accountable for everything. From the thoughts I don't even know I'm having to the actions I'm living, there is someone who is reflecting everything back to me.

"I know you feel overwhelmed," Barry said aloud. "That's what the admonitions want you to believe — this is too hard, this is too challenging, this is too much. But you're right where you're supposed to be in your process. Everything in your life right now is helping you to bring your shit to the surface, and you can either clean it out, or sit in the muck. Again, the only thing that will stop you is stopping."

"Doubt is the opposite of trust and fear," he continued. "In yoga, what are you taught to do?"

"Have faith," I told him.

"Right, and do you think that your pure heart doesn't know what it wants? Doesn't know what it needs?" 

"No," I said quietly. "My heart knows what it wants."

"This is yoga. Burning through your samskaras. That's what you're doing right now. You're doing yoga."

Yeah, this is yoga. This is me, living my yoga off-the-mat and in my daily world. This is me being a student of life, a believer in faith, and hopefully a better teacher, too. I am practicing alignment by bringing body, mind and spirit all into one and it's proving to be harder than I imagined. Yet, even though it took me awhile to be able to move into different asanas and incorporate pranayama techniques, I eventually learned how to cultivate these things into my practice and subsequently teach them to students in class. So tonight, I'll go back to the basics of Ujjayi — loud, victorious breath — and start from there.

Loud. Victorious. Breath.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Confessions. Admonitions. When a yoga teacher is a human being.

"In yoga, there's this saying. 
The world is as you see it."
~Barry Green

Barry keeps telling me to take the anger and the fury and the upset that I'm experiencing, and channel it into my homework, so that I can truly release these admonitions that have built up from childhood. After multiple days in a row of inwardly kicking my own ass, because I'm apparently in the thick of things now, I'm starting to funnel that angst into my writing. I figure that somehow and someway, all of this must have a reason; since I believe there's a perfect order to the Universe, then this muck must have a purpose. 

But I fucking hate this. I hate not feeling okay. I hate not experiencing everything as gorgeous. Ironically, this work is designed so that I can actually GENUINELY feel positive, rather than superficially acting as though everything's a-okay all the time. My brain keeps coming back to Barry telling me that I'm not being congruent, that shit happens in my life, and I put on a happy face. I pretend rather than being okay with feeling upset or irritated or angry, because I have learned (especially with the yoga training and spiritual learnings I have come across) that these "shadow" emotions are unacceptable.

I've gotten very good at pretending to the point that I often believe what I'm aiming for is real. The thing is, I already feel like where I stand now compared to where I used to be is such a huge paradigm shift that my life is definitely grand and spectacular and booming in broad rays of light. I don't believe I'm lying about that. But then, little itty bits of old thought patterns and behaviors pop up and while I try to avoid stepping on the cracks, I can tell there are parts of my foundation that are still shaky. This is what I'm remedying with the program that I've now undertaken, one which I told Barry I'd like to finish in eight weeks, but four into it and I find myself tripping over the beginning.

The program entails a light and breath technique that gets you to your subconscious to unravel a whole host of admonitions that a lot of us learned while growing up. If you happened to have parents who didn't do a lot of internal work before they decided to procreate, then you might fall into the majority of people who believe in admonitions like these below:
  1. Don't have fun
  2. Don't relax — always keep worrying
  3. Being a woman is what men want you to be
  4. Always obey authority
  5. Put on a good front
  6. Don't enjoy your husband
  7. Perform well to get approval
  8. Don't express any of your opinions
  9. Sex is dirty/taboo/disappointing/doesn't exist
  10. Don't play with yourself
  11. If you love someone, they won't respect my needs
  12. Settle for less than real love
  13. It's not ok to ask for what you want
  14. Everyone is out to get you
  15. Be ashamed if you arouse men
  16. Life is a struggle
  17. Repress your needs
  18. The world is a dangerous place
  19. Don't expect help if you screw up
  20. Be perfect / successful / good / do good job
This is just 20 of them. When I first review the list, I have to put check marks by hundreds of admonitions that may apply to me, whether they were said overtly or expressed silently. It is a bear, which Barry says is the case because I'm at the beginning of the process. Apparently, I will get to a point where releasing these are going to feel so friggin' awesome, since I will start to tap into my power and get a taste of what bliss is really like.

Every time I talk to Barry (which is almost daily), he points out all of these ways that I haven't yet caught about how such admonitions play into my life in such intertwining ways. He tells me that the good news is, when I unravel one, many start to come undone, until the fabric with which I've covered my eyes and used for faux warmth will completely disintegrate and all I'll be left with is my truth. Now. As me. In my entirety.

So, I have some confessions to make, because if I'm going to be in the shit (literally, the place Barry says I am in now), then I might as well just get all the crap out there to finally clear it up:

  1. I didn't finish the Asthanga month as I signed up for because aches and pains in my body started to speak loudly. My teacher went to India. And I made up excuses. I still wrote about it, but I didn't finish the way I had promised.
  2. I have no idea what the fuck I'm doing. People tell me all the time that if I never let them in about what was happening in my brain, they would have to clue about any struggles I'm going through. On the surface, everything looks amazing. This is why we are all in the same boat. I feel like everyone else's life looks just as awesome.

    When I'm teaching yoga, there are classes where I am absolutely channeling a force beyond myself and the flow and the words are seamless. Then, there are other times I'm trying to remember key points to the asanas of where your foot placement should be and how it should feel in your hips that my brain becomes befuddled with how much information could be shared, especially since the more I learn, the more I realize there is so much more to know and how little of it I feel I do. Plus, experts often conflict with one another, which means that in the end, it's about trusting myself and sharing what I know.

    By the time I bow my head in deference for the opportunity to teach after "Namaste," I look up and still have a hard time believing that people are looking at me the way that I have looked to teachers I have trained with. I am humbled to be a part of each individual's journey and want to do my best every time, which is why at the end of every class, all I can say is that I'm coming to the mat with the best of intentions. That's all I can do. Everything else, I really have no clue.
  3. I don't want to work on writing that isn't meaningful to me. This isn't to say that I don't want to work with clients who utilize both sides of my brain, because the rational part of me acknowledges that I need to pay my bills and I do my best when it comes to clients as well, but my heart is so absolutely resistant to doing anything but writing my book. Yet, every day goes by and I still not one sentence closer to completing my manuscript. Part of me is approaching this mind-body program as my research, but it's taking up more headspace and heartspace and energy than I am willing to admit. I have a friend who has told me to write an eBook and get started with a mini-writing project in that way, but my brain likes to aggrandize things so that everything become a monumental task in perfection, coupled with my unrelenting need to overachieve, I get stuck. I am scared to just take time out to do these things I know that I can do, which will hopefully ultimately matter in a big way one day.
  4. I'm worried that I'll never amount to anything. That my simply being on this planet and living my truth aren't enough somehow. More accurately, I'm afraid of not living up to my potential. Since I was young, I knew there was something big in store for me. I could feel it in a way that was beyond words. It helped me to exist in an environment that was so abusive, my family life felt like a cave where the air was constantly being trapped and sucked out and then recirculated before I had to chance to inhale. By the age of seven, I knew that where I was, was simply not right, but that in order to survive, I had to practice enormous amounts of patience and unfair treatment, which in the fibers of my being, I knew would all prove to have a purpose one day on a larger scale. And now, I'm facing up to what all of that was for — the potential that my life could be much grander than I have allowed for it to be, by doing EXACTLY what I just said sentences ago, "being on this planet and living my truth." I'm afraid that shining my light will make others feel badly (a falsehood I learned from growing up in a family that taught lack over than abundance). And, if I really get down to the truth of it, I'm afraid that I won't meet a partner who will encourage me to shine rather than tear me down, because of his inadequacies and insecurities. I'm afraid I have to be dimmed to be loved. And I do not want this to fucking be true, but because it is a fear I have fed, then that energy is still circulating around somewhere. If I dig a little deeper, then the real heart of the matter is that I'm afraid after getting to know myself, that even I won't love myself enough, that I'll find out things I'm not a fan of and rather than approaching it with compassion, I'll see myself with such disdain. I'm afraid I can't grow my heart bigger, because after being bruised and battered in so many ways, no matter how much goodness has always come, part of me is too afraid and wounded to believe.
  5. I'm afraid that I have too much hate in my heart that's been buried in places I have run so far and fast and hard from to be able to let go and be truly vulnerable. This is what I'm afraid is in my subconscious. Untapped fury. Ugly anger. Hurt so molten that it will burn through everything good I have created in my life for myself. I am afraid of myself.
This is where I am. This is what I've been hiding from. This is where I feel lost. This is real. This is me being imperfect. This is me being human. This is me teaching from what I know. This is my life right now. Barry keeps telling me that I am fighting the hardest battle any human being can ever fight, to triumph over my ego, that I am Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita

The one thing that I do know? I am a warrior. I always have been. I always will be. My only hope is that I don't have to fight for the rest of my life for what we all deserve — contentment

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hard. That's what this is.

"The bamboo that bends
is stronger than the oak that resists."
~Japanese Proverb

Barry, my mind-body mentor, says that what I'm currently going through is a deeply spiritual process. 

"I don't call it that for every one of my clients," Barry shared, "because even though I refer to it as releasing the past, what we're really doing is burning through your samskaras to achieve a deeper connection with your truth and who you are. Not everyone would call it a spiritual journey, but that is what we're doing, and because you're on the yogic path, I can talk more about these spiritual precepts, since you can better relate to these understandings."

During our call today, Barry imparted numerous insights about my behaviors and what I've been doing for the past few weeks. There were many silent pauses in our conversation, prompting him to ask, "What's going on right now? I know that when you're not laughing, when you're quiet, something's happening."

"I'm just digesting what you're saying," I told him, pensively.

"That's great," Barry replied, "But I don't want your logical mind to get in the way of this process. The more you intellectualize everything, the less your subconscious mind is participating and that's what we want to get to. We want to get to that place where all of these old admonitions are stored, so that we can really clear them. The moment you try to analyze and think your way through it, which is what you've always done and what your admonitions or ego want you to do, the more you're in your logical brain and moving further away from connecting to your truth. And isn't connecting to your truth what yoga is all about?"

Admittedly, I feel badly half the time I'm talking to Barry, as though I'm not doing enough or not doing it right, and when I tell him so, he points out that it's another admonition popping up. 

"Good!" he'll encourage. "Use that! Get angry! Direct that towards your homework of releasing."

I do as I'm told, even though he's also told me not to be my customary "good girl" response.

"I'm turning towards food again," I tell him with a hefty amount of disappointment.

"Of course you are," he acknowledges. "It's easy to turn towards old comforts, but the important question is to ask yourself what admonitions are coming up when you rely upon food."

I tell him my default answers. "That I don't value taking care of myself enough? That I'm feeling uncomfortable and overwhelmed?"

"Yes," he says. "But those emotions could be related to any number of effects. Why specifically do you go to food?"

My brain is confused. In our most recent work together, I've already demonstrated that I'm afraid to answer him incorrectly, which turns out to be another admonition I learned of believing that I always need to be spot on and perform perfectly. He's called me out that I know the answers to the questions he asks, but that I'm so petrified of saying the wrong things, that I'll just stall and avoid answering. "See?" he'll say. "Do you see how deeply these admonitions affect your life? I believe in you more than this. You're an intelligent woman, you know what's going on. You can answer me."

My friend went through this same program when he was training to become a holistic healthcare practitioner, and he mentioned that Barry seemed to pick on him incessantly over anyone else in the group. Others would take note of it too, and no one was sure why. I liken it to Tom Kelly sharing his experience in the ashram, where the Head Brother gave him love by not giving him love, because that is exactly what Tom wanted most — getting the attention. "You get it by not getting it," Tom would relay the Head Brother telling him.

"So, what is leading you to the food?" Barry prodded when I didn't initially respond.

"I don't know," I told him, becoming slightly agitated. "My parents never said 'I love you' to us, but rather 'Have you eaten?' so maybe that's how I feel like I receive love? Maybe I feel like food is the only way that I can get it?"

"There you go," Barry affirmed. "That's your admonition."

By the time I got off the phone with him, I was tired. All of this work is hard, and it's not just hard, because of what I have to reflect on, it's hard, because it's telling me to go against the grain of what I've been taught and live my life in a way that more accurately reflects all of me. 

Recently, I met someone who pointed out that it's obvious I'm a confident person, that I'm spunky, so he found it surprising when I told him that when it comes to being strong in expressing myself in intimate relationships, I'm at a loss. It's odd, because I have no problem being honest in my writing, and sharing that with the world, which is exactly why people have told me that my words are appealing. My heart is in it and it's obvious.

So then where does that honesty go when it comes to being all of me in every interaction I have? How do I continually default to being "the good girl," instead of just being Judy? All of this is especially challenging, because it's forcing me to accept — and even embrace — having negative emotions, something I've taught my heart to repel since I was a child. 

"Being positive all the time is a delusion," Barry reminds me. "We live in a dualistic world, so saying that you shouldn't feel badly about things or not get angry or upset is unrealistic. And, to feel guilty about these emotions? That's false, too. If you believe that one source created everything, then anything — positive or negative — is all part of Source. So, are you saying that feeling negative is bad or wrong? Because if you are, then are you going against Source and saying that Source is wrong?"

Barry taught me something hadn't really popped up in my study of the chakras before, that the three lower chakras are all associated with negative emotions and energies. In order to reach the higher chakras, we need to move through these "not nice" feelings first. These negative charges are balanced by the positive charges of the higher chakras, and it is this polarity that gives us our form and our physical world. If we lived in pure bliss, this physical world would cease to exist. 

What I learned growing up is that anger was very, very bad. I watched my parents go at it all the time, and constantly lived in fear that the other shoe would drop, that we would go from laughing together as a family to four kids cowering in witness to my parents screaming at one another in what seemed to be unprovoked and unpredictable moments that switched in less than a frightened heartbeat. I never knew that there could be another way to process negative emotions other than through rage and chaos, so I stuffed it all down until I starved and binged my way into oblivion. 

Now, here I am, 30-some years later learning that these shadow feelings are actually okay? That if I tell someone I'm upset with them, or if something happens that triggers a response that isn't happy-go-lucky sunshine, it doesn't mean I'm a bad person? It doesn't mean that I'm being any less yogic than the "ideal" that is preached to us in our teacher trainings and this spiritual society at large? If I have feelings that are not filled with inspiration and light, it doesn't mean I'm doing something wrong?

It was still early in the morning and I had much of the day to go with deliverables due to clients. But here I was, in this blur of feeling like taking good care of myself mentally-emotionally-physically is really what my job is right now. And, though I feel this mounting pressure to write my manuscript, somewhere within me, I believe that the work I'm doing right now is preparing me for just that. This is all part of the book. This is all part of the narrative of how I went from over there to arrive over here. And, it's hard. It's incredibly uneasy to be vulnerable, and dependent, and most importantly, to learn to trust myself whole-heartedly and have just as much faith in this process of unfolding into the real me that is happening. 

"You're doing great," Barry always ends our conversations. "You're exactly where you're supposed to be right now, totally in the shit. If you weren't there, this process wouldn't be working. Use it. You are full of love, and you always have been, and the more you can connect with your true essence, the more you will find that bliss, which is much more than being happy."

I believe him, because if I can do poses on the mat that I never thought were possible, and I understand that poses come to us when we are ready, then I will get to where I need to be right when the time is right. 

This is the practice of yoga. This is the practice of living.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Getting what you need doesn't mean it's a positive experience.

"There are the waves and there is the wind, 
seen and unseen forces.
Everyone has these same elements in their lives,
the seen and unseen, karma and free will."

It's hard to believe that things come when you're ready and that the lessons you're meant to learn appear when you're prepared to learn them. Patience isn't something that we're taught growing up in the instant gratification society of the West, where smart phones bring us exactly what we want to know when we want to know it, and the Internet keeps us updated through photos and posts. 

I saw Barry in person today (we chat every day by phone) and while catching up on how the process of releasing has been for me, I felt such gratitude to be able to do this mind-body work with him. I wished this is what the psychotherapy sessions in my 20s were like when I was undergoing eating disorder therapy, where the awkward 50-minute structured sessions could be replaced by the more compassionate blend of pointed feedback, but I know that I couldn't have comprehended the things Barry and I we were talking about now in the ways that we were discussing them, if I hadn't gone through my journey just as it happened. 

In my mid-20s, I wouldn't have had any idea what Barry meant when he spoke of the energetic vibrations of Sanskrit words or how the lower chakras are made of negative energies and emotions. I wouldn't have known how to sift and sort through what makes me the person I am now versus what I was programmed to believe through my upbringing. I wouldn't have understood what he meant when he said that I'm in the midst of a spiritual detoxification, where I can finally comprehend what I actually need and want, where I'm able to make mistakes and be upset and not feel guilt associated with these emotions. 

One of the things my ex would get upset about is the fact that it seemed everything was a big deal to me. I didn't differentiate between a small victory and a big one; I didn't discern between whether he told me feedback or a person I just met did. It all ended up in the same place. I would have the same highs when I got assigned an amazing travel article as much as I did getting a compliment from a student in class. I would pay as much attention to an intuitive person I just met sharing insight on my behavior as a friend who's known me for 15 years. It bothered the shit out of him. 

"That's because you're so skewed towards the masculine energy right now, and for you, that's not natural."

I looked at him, confusedly. 

"You're a woman," he stated. Then paused. "Well, look at you. Really, take a look." 

I looked down at myself and still had no idea what he was saying.
"Look at what you're wearing," he continued. "You have rudraksha beads, a bracelet, additional pieces of decorations on your wrist. You have a scarf on and a sweater. You're wearing earrings. All of those are not essential. You put them on, because you're a woman and you move with your feelings, the seasons, the earth. That's the feminine energy. 
Look at what I'm wearing. I have a watch on, because it tells time. It's functional. I'm wearing the clothes that I'm wearing, because I got the nod of approval from my wife when I walked out the door, otherwise who knows what I would have put on, as long as it covered my body. Look at my socks... they're plain white socks. Men want things to all be the same. We want to get to the point, we're goal-oriented and accomplishment-driven. We want to be the best. The feminine energy is about diversity and flow. It's all about change. Right now, your energy is off balance and you're skewed towards the masculine. But look at you — you're a woman."

I teach in yoga class all the time that if we're career driven, then we have a lot of masculine energy within us, whether we're male or female. The yang energy is what drives us, it's the action. In order to be successful, we need that push. And, like I noted today on my Facebook page, I have been running nonstop to achieve all that I thought would make me worthy in this world.

When I brought up questions about my career, about what beliefs and admonitions this triggers within me as I'm pursuing my dreams, I mentioned that I should just have more faith and trust in the Universe. Barry stopped me and pointed out that there is a difference between self-effort and grace, which is what the Bhagavad Gita is all about. 
"The faith that you're talking about, the principles that you're touting about believing that the Universe will just take care of everything for you, well in a way, that's true. But the principles don't necessarily connect to your heart and human unfolding. We live in a society where this idealism is taken out of context so that spirituality actually becomes delusional. If we actually lived in an ideal world, then it'd be one-sided. The physical reality of our existence would disappear. The plane that we live on requires duality, a positive and negative energy. It requires polarization. You need to have all the emotions, the ups and downs, the mistakes. This is what makes up our human existence. 
The problem is that we get presented this idea of 'perfection,' by people who haven't attained enlightenment. The teachers they've learned from don't even experience that perfection. They have thoughts and they're not happy all the time. If you go visit an ashram, the people in there can be downright miserable. There are no great beings who say, 'Don't cry, don't get mad.' The risk that we're facing today is that most people don't stay on the path for long enough to see the big picture. They buy into this idea that they need to be perfect, and when they can't be, they give up. That's just so dangerous.
You have to understand that getting what you need doesn't mean that it's going to be positive. Karma is not necessarily a positive thing. To get what you need, it may actually going through a horrible experience to teach you what you need to know. In yoga, we learn about tapas, that it is required to burn through your samskaras. The tapas moves the energy into the resistance to show you what you need to know to grow. It is an intense energy. Remember, the Universe provides what you need, and you have no idea what that could be.
Spirituality is the process of getting you to be yourself, not to be a positive person all the time. It's about being okay with making mistakes and to really connect you to all of who you are. When you really connect to yourself, you can have negative emotions and realize it's all right, unless the admonitions come in, which then prevent you from being you. All admonitions create enormous distrust in every area of your life — even the idea that you should always be positive, that will cause you to distrust the hell out of yourself when you realize you can't do that."
The spirituality he was speaking of is here to remind me of who I am and this journey of discovery. He explained that the lower chakras are all made of negative energy and negative thoughts and negative emotions. The higher chakras are made of positive energy and vibrations. Therefore, we can't possibly have a positive experience without first going through the negative. We actually need to go through the negative to heal and move up within ourselves and the world.

After he told me all this, I felt a great sense of relief. It seemed so simple that spirituality is all about acceptance in the end. And, that a lot of what I have been taught and have been reading and have been immersed in is this false idea of trying to change yourself from thinking human thoughts and having human experiences to trying to become this divine and pure and never-makes-a-mistake ideal. This just makes us feel badly about ourselves. It's why so many people don't practice yoga — because they see the perfect figures of certain teachers on the covers of certain publications and then immediately feel less than. 

We project so much that other people's lives are untainted, because each and every one of us would like to believe that that's possible, that if we could always be on our best behavior, then nothing bad would ever happen. We wouldn't ever get sick, we wouldn't ever get our hearts broken, we wouldn't ever have to worry about anything. Essentially, we wouldn't die. But that's just not true.

Barry is one of the first teachers I've worked with who's shown me what it really means to be a divine being undergoing a human experience. Everywhere else I've looked and learned has either taught me out loud or at a murmur that there is still a level of perfection we should be aiming for, and every moment we can't get there, is another moment that affirms how flawed we truly are. He is teaching me that where we are right now is exactly where we are meant to be, and the more accepting we can become of every experience, the more we can have a congruent response that comes from the truth of our being. That is enlightenment.

He quoted Mark Twain who said, "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." The truth is simple, it's when you lie that you have to remember what you've said. What you've done. Because in lies, lies complications. 

The truth is so simple. We are who we are. And to know what that means on the deepest of all levels is what I'm working on. Because everything else that I've piled on top of that? Well, to be frank, it's all bullshit. 

And I'm tired of lying.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A new definition of performance anxiety.

"The pursuit of perfection, then,
is the pursuit of sweetness and light."
~Matthew Arnold

I don't know if it's because I'm Asian, which is how the idea of perfection became bred into my being, or because I learned at a very young age that positive affirmations are closely tied with overachieving, but there has never been a day or night that I have not thought, "I could've done better." 

Turns out, that's an exhausting way to live. To think that an 'A' is not good enough, that an 'A+' is better. To think that my existence is not good enough, but that I must always be an enhanced version of who I am to be loved. 

So, I'm driven. And, I'm tired.

During my mind-body phone call with Barry today, I explained how the work is happening on my end. I thought I was doing great, albeit feeling plenty of unpleasant emotions and behavioral side-effects in the meanwhile. And, within a few minutes, he pointed out how I'm still entrenched in old habits. 
"You could've called or texted at any time, but you didn't," he gently reminded me. "I'm here for you, yet you still feel like you have to do this all on your own."
And, here I was, thinking that I was actually relying on him. 
"Don't be the 'good girl,'" he's been telling me all along. "Stop trying to 'do it right.' Don't let your mind do this. Feel the feelings. The psychology won't get it out."
Certain habits are truly hard to break. I know. I struggled with eating patterns — and still sometimes do — that don't serve me, but are so difficult to step away from. My mind, my ego, just won't let that go. This thinking that if I can control how my body looks, then the rest of the world will be okay. It's just like with worrying; we always think that something good will come out of it, as though the intention we put behind being concerned about something one way or another is going to change the outcome somehow, even though within, we realize that we don't have control and worrying will do no good. I know to the core of my being, that I'm done with it. Both the eating patterns and the worry, yet it's like I've walked through a giant spiderweb where the tendrils are still vaguely there, just barely, sticky, invisible, present.

There's a light/breath/eye-movement technique that we're working with and I mentioned to him that it's causing me to feel nauseated. He asked me to demonstrate how I've been doing it, and gave me suggestions on what a better technique would be. He also noted that I have no idea if my body is energetically releasing the effects of the eating disorder that my body battled with for the better part of a a decade. I hadn't thought about that — in this time that I've been doing energy work, I hadn't really thought about helping myself to heal on all levels from the effects of starvation, bingeing, and purging.  
"I've been studying scripture, yoga, chanting," Barry continued. "I've spent decades learning from gurus and being in study groups. It is absolutely delusional to believe that we need to be these pure beings. Nowhere in scripture does it say that, nowhere are these learnings teaching us to be phony or fake, to stuff what's actually going on in order to be pure. This is why there's divine grace and karma.  
If you study the stories that are actually told, you'll notice that a lot of these gods and goddesses were sons-of-bitches at one time or another. Shiva cut off the head of her own son! And she was Divine Consciousness in manifestation!  
You're in an industry with all these New Age teachings where they tell us us that we need to shun everything and be perfect to be pure, but that's not at all what it's about. It's about believing that you are Divine just as you are right now. If you look at the history of great humans, they were all screw-ups at one point or another. It wouldn't be called learning if you got it right the first time."
I quieted on the phone. 
"This, this energy right now," he observed, "This is you being congruent. For all that you're going through, this is the real you. That upbeat presentation you do? That's not you being congruent with who you are right now. Allow yourself to be here in it. Let things come out. Have your feelings, have your moods, and have them be acceptable to you. When you let this happen, everything else becomes congruent, and you become more congruent. This isn't about pretending, unless things are genuinely good. This is about being yourself. You are more lovable the more real you are, because that is what there is to love."
"And one more thing, work on the performance thing. Who are you performing for? You're not performing for me, because I don't care if it takes you five minutes or five months to go through this work. There are no prizes, no points, no penalty. You know who you're performing for. You love yourself, you always have and always will. You don't care about performing for you, because you're just loving and joy. But ask yourself, who are you really performing for? Because performance is a big thing for you. To do it right. Mistakes are the ways that we grow. Relax. You're doing great and you're exactly where you're supposed to be."
I think it's amazing how in just a few moments on the phone with him, Barry can point out all these ways that my mind likes to deceive me. All these ways that I am falling into traps that were set up a long time ago. This work came at exactly the right time for me, as I'm feeling fragmented in various parts of my life and extremely uncomfortable at how all the pieces are going to come together. But, I was recently told not to worry, that if I look at every element of my life as a giant puzzle and bring all the pieces closer together, the gel that will help hold everything in one cohesive picture if forming. And pretty soon, I'll know exactly what that is.

So, I ask for grace to know what to do. Or, more accurately, how to be. Let me be in my truth and from there, please let it illuminate everything else.