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.

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