are you faking it ’til you make it?

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ONLY IN INDIA ©2017 Metta Yoga & Bodywork Company

Below is a question that was asked in a Facebook yoga group I belong to.  As a teacher who is persona non grata in my local “yoga community”, it was an important question.  My answer to the teacher’s question is below it.

“I’m wondering how people experience and process professional jealousy. It seems to be a part of our normal human experience, but it feels particularly horrible – sticky, viscous and taboo. Sometimes it’s ridiculous – resenting that a new teacher, who I’ve mentored and supported – has ten people in their first class, even though most of them are friends there to offer support. Other times it’s more peer-related: why has that person received that opportunity (even if it’s one I didn’t want) or that recognition or that amount of money? For me, it seems to be rooted partly in anxiety about my capacity to make a living (which is compromised because of my disabilities), and partly in a voracious need to be seen – which I can laugh about, but there it is.”

MY ANSWER:
“I think it’s all about finding your niche and to stop trying to be all things for every yoga student. I’m not a “love and light” type of teacher so for those people looking for that, I’m not their teacher. There are plenty of others out there who will be. I always remember what I heard Seanne Corn say in a workshop, that she’d rather teach to the two who get it (i.e., what she teaches) than the 10 who don’t.  I’ve reconciled myself with that.  That might not mean a lot of money in my yoga bank account, but it’s all about choices. I’d rather be me than try to be something I’m not.  I’m not going to fake it to make it.”

What say you, yoga peeps?  Are you faking it by pushing down your emotions as if they are something dirty?

From my Buddhist perspective, less than beneficial emotions are not to be transcended, they are merely to be recognized and let go.  Yes, I know, SIMPLE BUT NOT EASY.

In this Facebook yoga group some said negative emotions should be transcended so we can evolve into an enlightened state.  Good luck with that Humans!

It fascinates me to see how many yoga people believe we are supposed to be immune to jealousy, hate, anger, bitterness, etc. merely because we practice yoga.  A 200 hour training, 1000 hours, or even 10,000 hours of training does not mean we become enlightened.  I mean seriously?!  Ramana Maharshi spent days in such deep samadhi that he was unaware of ant bites.  THAT’S trancendance, people!

After about six weeks, “he was carried out and cleaned up. For the next two months he stayed in the Subramanya Shrine, so unaware of his body and surroundings that food had to be placed in his mouth or he would have starved.”  And we expect to become enlightened or transcend painful emotions just because we do a little yoga?  WHAT?!  One woman commented in the Facebook group that she felt “immature” and so “unevolved” for having an emotion like jealousy.  I’ve heard the Dalai Lama say that sometimes he still gets annoyed at reporters’ dumb questions.  Hey, if HHDL can get miffed about dumb questions, so can I.

I have found these things to be extremely helpful to me over the years.

The first thing is the wonderful book Shadows on the Path by Abdi Assadi.  It is not a recent book but I think it’s the best I’ve read about our shadows on the spiritual path.  It will definitely be required reading if I ever get around to creating a teacher training.  My copy is heavily underlined and dog-eared.

The second thing is Jack Kornfield’s technique of RAIN:  “RAIN stands for Recognition, Acceptance, Investigation, and Non-Indentification. This acronym echoes the Zen poets who tell us “the rain falls equally on all things.” Like the nourishment of outer rain, the inner principles of RAIN can transform our difficulties.”

I also recommend Phillip Moffitt’s book, Emotional Chaos to Clarity: How to Live More Skillfully, Make Better Decisions, and Find Purpose in Life.   The Amazon blurb: “Despite our best-laid plans, life is difficult, and we sometimes experience anger, anxiety, frustration, and doubt. This emotional chaos can negatively affect the way we live our lives. Yet, Phillip Moffitt shows us that by cultivating a responsive mind rather than a reactive one, we can achieve a state of emotional clarity that allows us to act with a calm mind and a loving heart.”

Stop beating yourself up for being human.  You’re only a yoga teacher. 😉

a note from the Universe

“The real sky is (knowing) that samsara and nirvana are merely an illusory display.”
—Mipham Rinpoche, Quintessential Instructions of Mind

I have written more than a few times about the emails from the Universe….yes, the Universe sends me an email everyday and sometimes they are so right-on that it makes the hair on my arms stand up. the words below are what I received today and they really struck a chord.

I’ve been through a lot of emotional turmoil this year — not as much as other people I’m sure, but more than some people experience. I made a life-changing decision and someone who I thought wanted to be with me, did not. I learned this year that my mother (from whom I was estranged for over 20 years) died three years ago. that knowledge alone brought back painful childhood memories. and of course all the ridiculous drama at the yoga studios. I’ve also decided to finally disengage myself from someone I’ve known for more than half my life. it will not be pleasant, but 2009 for me must be clean and fresh. a new beginning. like each new moment.

I no longer believe that I have a depressive personality but for the last month I have come to know what depression feels like again, so much so that I wondered whether I had PTSD symptoms. repressed memories screw with your mind when they rear their ugly heads.

So the note from the Universe hit me in the face like the pungent humid air in Chennai does when I step outside the airport at 3 AM. I read it this morning and sat back and said “yes.” but that “yes” was more an affirmation for myself, that yes, I create my own suffering, and yes, there is a way out of suffering, and that way out is not the way I was thinking of when I was at my lowest.

Life is maya.

“I can imagine that from your perspective, it must seem like some truly awful things happen in time and space. So if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to weigh in.

Sama, you live in a world of illusions. A world that springs from a much deeper and far greater reality. And while at times the illusions are indeed ugly, with your physical senses you only see the tip of the iceberg. If you could see the whole, you’d discover that the unpleasantness was only the tiniest piece of a most spectacular puzzle that was created with order, intelligence, and absolute love. You’d see that contrary to appearances, in the grandest scheme of things, nothing is ever lost, no one becomes less, and setbacks are always temporary. And you’d understand that no matter what has happened, everyone lives again, everyone laughs again, and everyone loves again, even more richly than before.”


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happy autumn



I know it’s not officially Fall, but the weather here in the Fox River Valley of the Prairie State has been gorgeous. Warm days, cool nights, and while my all-time favorite place to be is near an ocean, I sure do love a Midwestern autumn, or almost autumn.

Here are some shots from my gardens from last year.

enjoy.

enjoy life.

be grateful.

be peace.

the rainbow

I usually don’t keep all the forwarded emails I get from people, I read them quickly and click delete. But today this one was a keeper not only for the photo but also for the line “don’t be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.”

I have tried to live my life in this way for the past few years, and when I’m faced with making a decision about something I always ask myself, “if not now, when?”

“As we grow up, we learn that even the one person that wasn’t supposed to ever let you down probably will. You will have your heart broken probably more than once and it’s harder every time. You’ll break hearts too, so remember how it felt when yours was broken.

You’ll fight with your best friend. You’ll blame a new love for things an old one did. You’ll cry because time is passing too fast, and you’ll eventually lose someone you love.

So take too many pictures, laugh too much, and love like you’ve never been hurt because every sixty seconds you spend upset is a minute of happiness you’ll never get back.

Don’t be afraid that your life will end, be afraid that it will never begin.

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.”

Enjoy…and dance like there’s no tomorrow.