On New Year’s Day, I posted this article, called “New Year’s Day: the Rose and the Rock.” It spoke about the spirit in which you can make your resolutions, knowing your fervor will die out pretty soon. How to keep going anyway. So this is my 30-day check in, after having made my resolutions. By this time last year, I had basically forgotten my promises, and was well into the unconscious plodding of my daily life. This time, I’m fighting back. I’m checking in.Read More
Hello, New Year. I see you — all blank and spacious and full of promise. You make me look so good.
But, let’s be honest. I’ve promised my way through so many of you that I don’t trust this feeling anymore. My staying power rarely matches the initial fervor of my intentions, and I end up looking like crap...Read More
When we get to class, we take our shoes off, find our favorite place, unroll the mat, settle in and ‘do yoga.’ When it’s over, we roll up the mat, put our shoes back on, go out the door, and now we’re not doing yoga anymore.
When you get tired enough of
virtue and its misguided constraints,
the goodness that rides each
molecule in the body
and sees its friends
and everyone burns more bright.
When you get tired enough
of virtue and its ego building mandate,
give it up and breathe.
Put down your striving.
Put it down somewhere outside the house.
(You can pick it back up later.)
When you get tired enough of virtue’s
gun to your trying hard head,
when you’re really serious about this,
and you’ve had it, and you’ve put the thing down,
outside the house, way over by the fence —
the interior channels open, and never before
have your lungs felt so robust, clear, flexible, alive.
Along the 82,000 nadis, the railways of the mind,
the interstates of the soul, there is cargo
being picked up and delivered,
crates of laughter up to the brain, pipelines
of forgiveness down to the heart, shipments
of good natured mischief bumping along
leisure-ridden armroads to the hand terminals,
and of course,
giftwrapped boxes of afternoon naps
scented with fresh mown summer grass,
a Pat Metheny lullaby slides into the ear
canal, tender and wild with quiet,
as you lift off the lid.
When you get tired enough of virtue,
It’s a sign that you’re ready to stop
holding your best self hostage.
Let it go
and nobody dies.
I can’t find the journal that I should be writing in right now. Looked everywhere. I remember holding it in my hands coming out of the studio. I feel almost sure I was carrying when I got out of the car at home. But I’m not. Sure. So now maybe I left it inside the studio. Or outside, leaning against the door. Why can’t I find it anywhere inside this house?
This distraction is insidious. Every couple minutes or so, I get taken away again; and the Where-Is-It drives my muscles before I know it, and suddenly I’m wandering around in a state of searching, searching, scanning, looking, trying to find. Wandering.
It’s a snapshot of what happens all the time anyway. It could be why I’m forever signing up for seminars, workshops, master classes online. Oh, what would it be like if I were to stop looking for and just be with myself? No better take on my business life, no knowledge about webinars or convertkit, no accumulating skill with anatomy. No journal, no phone, no apps. Nothing.
Careful, here. I have a tendency to paint everything with a This Is Not What You Should Be Doing brush. So, before we go any further, let’s recalibrate.
Obsession and distraction are not the same as curiosity and a love of learning. The fact that I love learning about muscles and money and meditation does not mean I’m a hopeless workaholic who can’t relax. And on the flip side, having something to do every single minute of every day doesn’t necessarily mean I’m living life fully.
Where am I right now? Right now, I’m writing to you. I’m not looking for my journal (the other one); I’m not online doing a webinar; I’m not listening to podcasts or reading. I’m just spilling the contents of my mind into my laptop. I am a smooth pebble at the bottom of a lively, bubbling creek, lying here peacefully, looking up. Sandy riverbed at my back, the white water of all these thoughts about lost journals and master classes rushing over me. I don’t have to understand anything. I don’t have to connect any dots. My only job is to notice, to see without judgment, and bow to impermanence.
May we all start pausing more often to look at our thoughts before trying to make them mean something and swallowing them whole as truth. May we push back on everything we think we “know,” lie back on the riverbed, comfortable and clear. May we look up at the constant stream of thinking (lists, regrets, fears, fantasies, realizations, commitments, intentions, resentments, etc.), and just see how beautiful it all is. Nothing personal. Nothing solid. Nothing gained, nothing lost. Only water, rushing to the sea.
I did something today that I’m shyly proud of, and hesitant to admit.
To set the scene:
I’m at a meditation and writing retreat, here at the Shambhala Mountain Center. There are around 75 rooms in this building. Custom is: everyone takes their shoes off at the door, no matter how many times you come in and go out.
The place is run humbly and well by good-hearted, hardworking people. They can’t be everywhere. They’re probably paid in heads of chard from the garden. Anyway, being here engenders a sense of community that is as unfamiliar as it is comforting. Lodgers are invited to participate in caring for the center, the land, and the spirit of the place. Taking off your shoes inside is one way of doing that. We all need to do our part to keep it clean. And it’s raining, so today it’s even more important.
I make my way downstairs to go to the dining hall when I notice some new people (they come and go with regularity here; different programs are happening all the time). They’re kind of loud, and this one guy looks a little like Johnny Carson, but with none of the class. He has a smug, entitled, You-And-I-Both-Know-How-Charming-I-Am expression on his face. He’s also wearing his muddy shoes. Inside. (FYI, there’s a big sign that says, “PLEASE TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES BEFORE ENTERING” right by the ‘shoe benches’ at the inside entrance of the building.)
He and his buddies are headed toward the exit, complaining about the rain, wondering what to do. Just as I appear on the scene (coming from right behind him), he looks down at my umbrella, which was right near my hiking boots, and says, hopefully, “Whose umbrella is this?” And I immediately say in my quiet voice, but with a little smile, “It’s mine.”
As I lace up my boots, he and his buddies, all jokey-but-not-jokey, say stuff like, “Hey do you think we could fit under it? Wanna share? Or, no — I know — maybe we could stand on each other’s shoulders and the top guy could hold it up, heh heh…” I ignored them, walked out the door, popped opened my umbrella and walked to the dining hall in the rain, quietly happy with my own preparedness.
Now, of course. Me being me, the requisite internal voices showed up. “You should have offered him the umbrella. This was petty of you. You have a hood to your jacket. You’re a Buddhist in a Buddhist meditation center for cryin’ out loud. It doesn’t matter that you don’t like him.” But I thanked those voices for sharing and listened instead to other voices. Like the ones that said, “Everyone who comes here gets the same welcome letter, admonishing us to bring an umbrella along with other stuff we’ll need.” So he and his buddies got that letter. If they didn’t read it, that’s their problem.
Plus, this weekend, I met a woman — a fascinating woman — who was a professor of computer science in the 80s and 90s at one of the universities here in Colorado. She and five of her colleagues suffered such incredible gender discrimination there that she took the head of her department to court — and after four years and lots of money to the lawyers, she won! There is an astonishing number of tech-savvy women in this writing retreat. Amazing women who were programmers or project managers so early in the game that nobody could afford to discriminate by gender. But as the years went by, and competition became fierce from countries where the pay was a fraction of what the pay is here (even for women), they were slowly elbowed out one way or another. The stories sickened me, and I have to admit, some of that tangential resentment was baked into my umbrella moment.
But mostly I was pissed off that the guy couldn’t show respect for our mutual space. Taking off his dirty boots at the entrance was just too much trouble.
And finally, to be completely honest, it was his tone of voice. Something beyond certain about it. Of course I’m going to give up my umbrella to him. All he has to do is perform a little good-natured ribbing and the thing is his for the taking.
Only…nope. Not this time.
It was such a tiny moment in the scope of things. But still, I didn’t give away my power, and it mattered. I walked into the rain with my umbrella over my head, full of strength and a little flame of joy and confidence burning in my belly. Wish I could just give this feeling to all the little girls growing up in the world today.
And…I’m aware still that it was a moment during which I had a choice to leave off self-cherishing, and let them use my umbrella, regardless of merit. I’m working toward that. I am. But the baby steps of not being codependent, not needing them to like me, not feeling less than, or like it was my responsibility to take care of them — those baby steps are important. So I’m bowing to that, and holding to my practice of awareness.
What was your moment today? What did you claim? Or let go of?
I am posting every day on Medium.com. This is one of my recent contributions there. Am going to start sharing here, by just copying the link--until I figure out a more elegant way to do this. Many blessings to you all. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE POST.
Every morning, I do my bathroom routine: brush my teeth, shower, dress, whatever — then I meditate. I make sure to get that all in before the day starts in earnest.
Really? As in, the day didn’t start ‘in earnest’ the minute I opened my eyes? Like everything that came between opening my eyes and leaving for work was just the fake part of the day, not the earnest part? And what does “make sure to get that in” mean? ...Read More
Twenty-three years ago, I walked into my first yoga class. A friend had suggested it, having noticed I was a little high strung. I drank four double-talls a day, my back hurt all the time, and I yelled a lot. So I took him up on it. It was the weirdest experience. I asked my body to do such unfamiliar things; but when I walked out, although I knew I’d be sore the next day, I felt like I’d had a massage—from the inside.
The class was taught by Aadil Palkhivala, one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world. But I didn’t know that. All I knew ...Read More
Are you anything like me?
A mistake is made. You got drunk and said things you really wished you hadn’t. Or you summoned all your courage and spoke something out loud and it totally blew up in your face. Or it’s the Terrible Thing From Your Past. You just keep thinking about it, even though the moment is long gone and nobody even cares anymore.Read More
I will always remember my first private yoga session. We didn’t do anything dramatic or even particularly difficult. He just kept pointing me back into my present, physical experience as I moved through certain poses. At the end of it, I felt like my shoulders, my arms, legs, feet, my mind, my heart had all been massaged from the inside. Years of depression gave way to the very first glimmerings of hope...Read More
I’m grateful today for the countless beings connected to me…
the woman on the assembly line that installed the door handles on the left side of the truck that delivered my package yesterday.Read More
Gang Chivalry on the Rise
Father Throws Gay Son “Out!
Woman’s Body Found. . .Read More
My best stuff comes while I’m walking my dog. Putting one foot in front of the other, every morning at around the same time, seems to invite a deep conversation between me and the Spirit that walks with me. So I’m walking Tashie, and I notice that my head is pitched forward, the back of my neck is tight, my teeth are clenched and...Read More