Friday, June 1, 2012

Reflections & Musings: "Herrings & onions" — how vice becomes virtue.

"It has ever been my experience that folks who have no vices,
have very few virtues."
-Abraham Lincoln

This morning, I taught a fabulous power flow class. Why? Because I feel like I'm finally coming to a point where I am owning my voice and sharing a part of myself as I observe what students are looking for, too. And, we're all having fun together!

Did I feel like teaching this morning? Not so much, because I definitely came to class with a sense of heaviness. Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said, "How like herrings and onions our vices are in the morning after we have committed them." The stench of my habitual behavior of overeating late at night, especially when it comes to sweets that my body no longer craves, followed me into the studio. 

What did I do with it? I used it in class. We meditated on being present, of letting go of the yesterday and the day before and not worrying about what's to come. We focused on approaching those parts of ourselves that we dislike with forgiveness, compassion and acceptance, as the more we practice it within, the more we can express it without. We learned that there are two sides to every attribute — similar to the philosophy of homeopathic medicine, where the poisonous element can also used to heal you in the right amounts. We discovered our center point where everything comes into balance.

Whether my intuition speaks loudly or hums quietly, I tend to find these incredible moments where I am reminded that the Universe loves me every step of the way, even when I am filled with guilt, shame and self-criticism. This morning, I noticed a free magazine underneath a table at the Soul of Yoga after I taught, and picked it up. Flipping through the pages of Energy Times, I came across an interview with Andie MacDowell, where she mentions yoga as a transformational tool for enjoying life even more fully at the age of 54. I often think (and hope) that when I am that age, I will be filled with a grace and contentment that simply exudes from every cell in my being. 

One of my favorite quotes she shared was about the fantasy life we all wish we could lead:
When we're little kids we watch TV and go to Disneyland and want to see Mickey Mouse. So we're preprogrammed to want to have this fantasy world outside of what we do every day. So if you have all these fantasy people out there on whom you can project your hopes, your dreams, your disappointments — quite often it's your disappointments — it takes you out of your own life. And it really is a fantasy world. It's not really healthy, but it is what it is and it is how we are programmed.
And, asked why the movie Groundhog Day remains ever so popular, she observed:
It's about getting it right, and wouldn't it be great if we could do everything over again and have a chance to fix the mistakes that we make? We're all fallible. It's about making the right choices. But it is interesting because a lot of times [Bill Murray's character] would get frustrated and continue to make bad choices. There had to be a shift in him [to set things right]. And I think that is ultimately what we all hope for — some kind of shift to become conscious, to become aware, and that's what yoga is for me. And it does not mean that you may not take two steps back, but the goal is to become a conscious human being and to make good choices.
So yes, last night, I took two steps back. I also know that my moon cycle is about to happen, so I understand my hormones are a little awry. And, I try to understand that I am, as best as I can, making better choices each and every day. One of the greatest conflicts that I get into with my beau surrounds a bad habit he has that causes an almost visceral and repellant reaction within me. We talked at length about it and realized that I have such a problem with it, because it's not just an unattractive habit, it represents everything within myself that I can't control, that I succumb to, that is not perfect. Once again, in being with him, I learn how to love myself more unconditionally, because there truly is nothing in anyone else that isn't reflected in ourselves in some way.

One more quote for the day from W. MacNeile Dixon, "There is more than a morsel of truth in the saying, 'He who hates vice hates mankind.'" We all have vices. We all have parts about ourselves that we keep falling into, as though we're tripping over cracks and crevices we're so much more aware of yet continue to stumble upon.

This is humanity. This is where we learn how to be divine. As teachers, I believe we share the lessons we most need to learn, because it comes from a place of truth and people resonate with that. Love the parts that are imperfect, embrace the parts that are wonderful, and infuse everything else with a grace and beauty that the Universe would impart on you.

I admit it. I'm fallible. The good news? I'm also conscious. And hopefully, I can learn to intertwine the two with a lot more forgiving kindness.


What things in your life do you trip on most often? How does it feel when you indulge in your vices and how do you approach the before, during and after? 

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