Sunday, November 6, 2016

Smoking as a gateway to yoga

I began smoking tobacco as a way to clear my head, to find peace and serenity after a long day. Then it began to permeate more of my life and I began smoking throughout the day, before work, before class, before starting homework, and after eating to aide with digestion. What I liked about smoking was that it would silence my mind. There was a calmness and depth that was created by having a completely clear headspace. I was connected back to my environment, back to the nothingness through which I would settle back into my soul and feel again. When I am back in that spaciousness, it is okay to feel because there’s no emotion attached to it. I am reintroduced to a world without a whirlwind of thoughts and meaninglessness. I’m whole again.

Regardless, I know that this is not the right thing for my body and spirit, that I need to find something that centers me without carcinogens. Something that promotes my health and welfare because that’s what I was seeking all along.

So I turned to my yoga practice that I had been neglecting for over a year now. But I know that the transition will come with time, and that hating myself for not arriving at my goal will only keeping me farther from achieving it.

Becoming a smoker taught me that sometimes we make wrong decisions because we don’t know how to cultivate personal growth in a healthy way. Sometimes we need to be pushed to act when we don’t know how to, when we don’t feel ready, or don’t have the energy to. And so it’s okay to seek pleasure and comfort in things that aren’t necessarily “ideal” because the real Growth happens when we start to feel pleasure and comfort on a regular basis throughout the day. I know that I need to lose some weight as well to regain the strength to be able to hold myself in poses, and so I’ve been eating better and less, and going back to the gym. I’m slowly but surely finding ways to improve my overall lifestyle, and that is helping me get to a better place.

Yoga means “to yoke.” So in order to truly have a daily yoga practice, I have to be accepting of the idea of being yoked to something. Addiction has helped me see how easy it is to get hooked on something and need it each and every day in order to feel whole. I have been dealing with issues around commitment (aren’t we all!) and having a daily practice of smoking has shown me that it’s okay to schedule something every day. It’s okay to let things change your life. That’s a yoga lesson- being willing to let something permeate your life and change it, sometimes completely, and not being afraid of what those changes bring, and what they expel from your life.  

In Carlos Castaneda’s Tales of Power, the sorcerer don Juan tells Carlos that he mustn’t change too fast when new knowledge comes into his life. This is how seekers become derailed and cease to fulfill the path to sorcery on their own. When a seeker experiences a cataclysmic moment, they go from one extreme (the craze of their present state, their current erratic mind) to the other extreme (indifference about life, no longer in awe of the path and the magic that arises), and it breaks them without allowing the messages to be integrated into the soul and psyche. I felt this about yoga, and that’s why I stopped; it was too much for me to be confronted by these emotional/physiological/psychological/spiritual changes because they were constantly burning me out, exploding my energy, and keeping me from settling into peace and serenity as they are meant to.

So now that I know peace and serenity, I am willing to encounter the joy of yoga through a balanced practice. I am opening myself up to change, without being afraid of the consequences, but also understanding that I shouldn’t necessarily jump in immediately and drop everything, because I will be burnt out and turn away completely again. Making a bad decision is like entangling oneself in a rope. But hating the rope and hating ourselves as we untangle isn’t going to get us to freedom faster. Instead it flusters the mind and makes us give up hope that we can ever truly be free. If we arrive at the disentanglement, we will still be entangled in our own rage and we cannot truly be free. We will entangle ourselves again in something that perpetuates more rage until we learn to no longer respond in anger. My pathway to disentanglement is yoga, the rope is smoking. And I mustn’t judge the process, or expect it to go faster. I must simply untie and untie and untie with love and understanding and one day I will get to the end of that rope.

Image source: Tumblr

Friday, November 4, 2016

What would life be like if we had no courage to attempt anything

"What would life be like if we had no courage to attempt anything"
         - Vincent Van Gogh

What would your life look like if you didn’t do the things that scared you?
Life. It sprouts because that is its nature. Out of the womb of a mother plant, comes a seed that is embedded in the soil. In the soil the seed germinates. And out of the soil that persistent sprout shoots, breathing in the air past the surface. Water falls, moistens its roots, moistens its young stalks, and it grows. Persists. Into a young plant. Sometimes there are flowers, and out of those flowers sometimes fruits. The plant matures, sometimes growing bigger taller stronger, sometimes letting the seasons pass, sprouting flowers and fruits again. And soon it dies- but not without leaving behind seeds for a new generation, or a skeleton to fertilize the soil in preparation for new seeds.

Life doesn’t stop because you do. Life isn’t afraid. 
Life happens not because you want it to, or because you care, but because that is its nature, and it’s older than you will ever be. Remember that the things that happen in life are not for your benefit, but because that’s the way that things are meant to be. Cycles of beginnings, of maturation, of death- they just happen. But you don’t have to let things happen. And there’s truly nothing that is keeping you from creating a life that you want, a life that is truly yours.

It’s easy to forget that life isn’t something you can get right or wrong. 
There are no mistakes. Trees twist and turn in wild directions because they are seeking light and nourishment, same with you soul. All the things that you’ve done already were meant to happen, and if you think you’ve made a mistake, this is the moment to change. You can always change.

The things that scare you are the universe calling your name. 
They are your gut saying GO DO THAT.

Do it. Fuck it.

Image Source: Finn Beales

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Are you making yourself better off.. or better?

Examine your life for a second. Look out over the horizon at your goals, your decisions. Are you asking for things and working toward ideals so that your life can appear better on the outside? Or are you striving to improve on the inside?

This was the message in church this morning. 

Andrew and I were late today (buzz off) and ran in during the first reading. Side note- the readings are my favorite parts. Anyway, so when that's all over, the priest remains at the podium and starts talking about intentions. He questioned our purpose in life, whether it is to grow as a person, or grow externally. I was listening, but not really. And actually I was thinking about my goals during this time, thinking about the things that I want to see manifest in my life. And then the Father said, "are you making yourself better off? ..or better?

(Betsy falls off pew)

It was smack dab in the middle of my contemplating moving into a new relationship. 

Perfect timing. 

As my friends would tell you, growing up I was always somehow romantically involved with someone or in a relationship, and I really couldn't survive without having that type of intimacy because I would more or less fall apart. Fast forward a couple years, I ended my first adult relationship with a man that I loved because I knew that the person wasn't for me, and I was done with hanging on to someone else's coattails, living a life that was controlled by someone who really wasn't going in the direction that I wanted to be leading. 


Fast forward a couple more years to today, and here I am having emotionally intimate friendships with people of all walks of life, deep conversations with platonic friends and mentors that I was craving while chasing dead-end relationships. Isn't it ironic that we are so emotionally and intimately bankrupt in relationships that don't fit, even if we're with the person everyday, sleeping in the same bed? Today my relationships are more than I could ever ask for. 

So now that I've started dating again, I was going through a mental list of all the things that I wanted in a man. I won't go into detail (sorry ladies) but I was proudly kind of filtering through all these visualizations of living a nice comfy life with a great guy. 
And then with the priest's words all that was shattered. Because I was projecting all of my "making myself better off" ideals on another person, rather than seeking to improve myself on the inside and out.

My loves, 
we can truly have all that we desire in a partner, if we meet a person we can find ways to learn to love who they are, and teach them how to fulfill our needs. If we are the right person to begin with. I was snapped out of my fantasy world that told me I needed someone to have a great x, y, and z to make me look better. Looking back I see how absolutely unattractive it would be to date with a checklist like that, to expect perfection and not strive for self-improvement. 

I'm not saying that dating is a time to completely change yourself, to try to be perfect, or believe that if you can just change that one thing about yourself that you'll be worthy of love. No. 
That never works. The worst relationships are built on lies. 

Instead, strive to be the best person you can be, accentuating the things that make you awesome and wholeheartedly admitting to your faults.  It's okay if you can't cook ladies! It's okay if you can't do laundry for shit, guys! Just make sure that you're working on your strengths and then your partner will really have the opportunity to fill in for the parts of you that need a little help... and all without forming human crutches to lean your weaknesses on. 


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

What to Do When Your View of Success Changes

Mis queridos- 

It's been a while since I wrote out something, and thought I'd update where I am in my life.

I have recently been feeling at a crossroads, stuck between doing what I thought I loved and starting out on a new path. It is such a strange feeling realizing that there really is something else out there, that many of our lives are ripe with opportunities that we many times do not notice.
These past few months have been so amazingly abundant with new job opportunities, friends, love interests, and most importantly dreams. As I complete more and more goals that I thought were impossible, my dreams keep growing and I am finally able to see myself really becoming that which I only fantasized about before.

But what about when that fantasy no longer applies to your life anymore?

Take a step back to survey your life.
Every experience allows us to grow and change our views about the world we live in. New goals were created by a new way of thinking, a new person. Get intimate with that person- what values does he/she have? What kinds of things does he/she most enjoy? When we are honest with ourselves about who we are today, it makes it a lot easier to accept the transition and move easily in a new direction.

Take out the trash.
This is metaphoric too. The more that I dedicate myself to improving my life and relationships with others, so much stuff comes up seemingly from nowhere. My room starts to feel cluttered. Relationships that once served me start to feel stagnant or out of sync.

This new change is a wonderful time to get out those old patterns and let go of what no longer serves you in order to make room for the new. Physically cleaning my room- opening old storage drawers and just throwing away bags of old papers, clothes, and trinkets I don't need- is so therapeutic. Afterward, my spirit feels lighter. Even though it can be hard sometimes, sometimes you just gotta cut the crap and do it. For yourself.

Explore new hobbies.
I have found that my life transitions were always led by a change in tastes. All of a sudden I get so excited about this new job opportunity or reading this new book and it takes me on this journey that ends with a great lesson. Allow yourself to get caught up in a whirlwind of joy- it may be as simple as starting a short meditation ritual everyday, or taking yourself out to lunch twice a week at your favorite café. "Follow your bliss" is probably some of the best advice that I have gotten recently, and when I allowed myself to get caught up in what I loved to do, I woke up six months later feeling like a completely different (awesome) person.

Work hard.
This may seem obvious, but when we transition into a new life, it is easy to start dawdling in random shit that doesn't mean anything, like playing mahjong online for hours. Whoops. This just puts you back in the trap of going back to your old life because the new one seems like it has no promise. If you don't know where to start, pick up that book that you've been meaning to read. Take a day to apply on a whim to a bunch of jobs. Go travel your local neighborhood, city, country, or the world! Get out of your comfort zone and start working and exploring like the person that you want to be, not the person you are today.

Buena Suerte

 Image Source: Tumblr