Lessons have been climbing their way up and out of the woodwork these past few weeks. Some in a matter of days, like a bundle of letters lost in the mail that arrived all at once. A few lessons have, simultaneously, completed their gestation in the womb of my psyche. A few lessons have been born, slippery and raw, pulsing in my palms and begging to be released.
I have, for my entire life, wrestled with the notion that there will be people who do not like me. There will be. No ifs, ands or buts. There need to be! It’s cosmic law. But does that make it any easier to stomach? Nope. I’ve tried slipping into the guise of someone who (bless their hearts) just doesn’t care. I imagined flipping my ponytail at those who disliked me, respectfully not giving any shits what they think and rocking on with my bad self. But alas, it didn’t work. The ponytail flip whipped me in the eye as I flung back around flashing feral (now watering) eyes, desperately seeking a means by which to connect. A way to win over my hater. A way by which to, still, end up being liked.
Last week, in asana, my teacher offered up an intention so chillingly in line with what my own practice has reflected of late (but she and I have a way, like that, so it wasn’t really a surprise but an ah yes, of course). She provided some ideas of what we, her students, could “put down” as our offering for practice. For this space, right now, in our lives. A sacrificial intention, of sorts, focusing on laying something down mindfully rather than tossing it away or forcefully releasing it – there is such a difference. My choice came quickly, organically. Her own words followed, echoing my own lightning thoughts. My intuitive offering was twofold. The need to be liked and the need for attention.
Not easy to admit. Not easy to release. Not easy to face!
But that’s part of the evolution of one of my recent lessons. Something hit me the other day. Like a bug on the windshield it hit me. People WILL disapprove of us for various reasons. People WILL judge us. All we can do is stand in the Grace that we are and know only WE can project OURSELVES. We have the power to cultivate the subtle space between personalizing and condemning criticism. When others criticize us, it is merely a projection of their own minds, their own thoughts, their own karma. May we be neutral enough to hear without owning. May we be humble enough to take what’s constructive and leave the rest. Some offer a concealed gift. Others are looking at us through a cloudy lens. May we be centered enough to trust our own vision, ever endeavoring towards greater clarity, knowing in our heart of hearts that only we can represent our truest Selves.
The mind is a beautiful servant, but a dangerous master (can’t take credit for that wisdom, it’s all Osho). So true, though, right? When harnessed properly, our own psyche can be a place of exquisite imagination, extraordinary discovery, mind-blowing contemplation. When let to run the show, things can get ugly…fast. But that’s a whole other essay…
More and more each day I find my practice gravitating towards the cultivation of the subtle thread that is the balance between caring for others’ opinions and allowing them to serve as a reflection of me. I believe that not caring what others think of us is liberating. I believe in holding space for the visions and perspectives of others, I believe in finding a way to value what others think, always, even if I don’t agree. I understand I will be judged, I understand I will be misunderstood. I understand I will judge and misunderstand. Releasing attachment to what others think of us is not egoistic, but an act of self-preservation. It’s a call to independence. A free pass to LIVE. Everything we think is a projection of our own mind. Everything anyone else thinks is a projection of theirs. Allow them that. It has nothing to do with you. Don’t weigh down your ship with someone else’s anchor.
There has been lot of despair in the world lately. A lot of angst in our society. Injustice, wrongdoing, heartbreak. It is now that we must really go inward. Because if we can’t cultivate a steady sense of Self, how can we strongly band together as one and unite? It’s the whole “put you air mask on first” concept. If we’ve not secured our own oxygen, if we’re not operating at full capacity, we simply cannot serve others from a place of our highest Selves. It’s science. We must be standing on a solid foundation before we can pull others aboard our raft.
I don’t know that I’d call this next one a “lesson” so much as an intuitive sensation. A call to action. I’ve felt, amidst said worldly suffering, a call for unity unlike any before. A call for us earth angels to unite. There will always be pain, there will always be suffering, there will always be unrest. But we can promote healing, renewal, restoration from right here where we sit. We have the power to transmit beneficial energy…from our hearts, our minds, our spirits, our palms, every cell of our physical being and every fiber of our true being. Don’t underestimate your power. Sadness and grief are not destinations, they are catalysts; vessels through which to channel hope, conviction, faith, trust, LOVE. Earth angels unite. We have work to do.
But it’s not all light sending. We mustn’t forget the receiving. Artfully manipulating the ebb and flow of this sacred energy pulse. The symphony of healing for which we all serve as conductors. The ability to see that we are constantly dying and constantly being reborn. That is why we end asana practice with savasana (corpse pose). It’s a metaphorical death. A death of the intentions we laid out at the start. A death of the Self we once were, even at the start of our practice. The death of the physical cells that are constantly obliterating and being made new. The death of old thought patterns, habits, addictions and beliefs. The death of the attachment to permanence. The birth of everything.
We are living in mortal bodies. We don’t have forever in this particular life. So just say how you feel. Speak up. Be authentic. Be vulnerable. No possible external effect could ever eclipse the great travesty of repressing your own truth. We are perishable items. We must (I repeat must) live accordingly. We must embrace this cyclical journey that we call life. We have work to do.
Let us celebrate the birth of the end. Let us make a ceremony out of this ending. Let us give it as much weight as we give to beginnings. May the end be an event in and of itself. It has worth, it has value. Only when we give birth to the end, and hold space for it entirely, may we step with empty, open palms and clear eyes into the raw newness of the beginning that awaits.