It's been a tiresome summer for me. I'm sooo happy that it will officially be fall! I'm one of those who hate it when it's too hot.
I have been giving so much of my heart and my body into teaching yoga and meditation the last couple of months.
My favorite gig by far is teaching 6th-8th graders at a private school. It is my lowest paying gig, and yet my favorite because it feels most natural to me.
Teaching yoga is essentially holding space for people to be where they are and offering guidance for mindful movement. It is a reminder to witness ourselves.
No matter what your day has been like, or whether you're even liking yourself today, you are ALWAYS worthy. If you can see yourself and let go of the judgments for a second, you should know that you are inherently worthy.
How many of us knew this when we were young? I sure didn't. It led me to stumble into an abusive relationship at a really young age. In fact, I was in 7th-8th grade.
I'll be honest, despite all the therapy and self-help I've done, I sometimes forget. I forget that I am inherently worthy. I feel ashamed.
Oh, but what for?! you may wonder.
- I feel ashamed for being stressed out despite living my teenage dream. (Seriously, 15-year-old me would be psyched about all the yoga 22-year-old me is teaching.)
- I feel ashamed for gaining weight! I went from 126 lbs to 131 lbs in like two months. I have a freakin visible double chin. (Despite the fact I like the body positivity movement in yoga and know full well this is due to stress.)
- I feel ashamed for not making the time for myself to take classes. I love taking yoga and workout classes. But lately, it's been few.
- I feel ashamed for not having a robust meditation practice. Honestly, these days my meditation is in my classes when I lead or when I find the time to whisper "May I be happy... May I healthy... May I be safe... May I live with ease" while driving. It's really just whatever is enough to help me get through the next hour without collapsing onto my stress. It's a good thing meditation is an anywhere, "to-go" practice.
I could say more about the things I feel ashamed about. But I think you get the point.
Underneath all my ashamed thoughts, I know that I am always worthy. And this allows me to keep going, to keep dreaming, to keep doing. But what if it's really hard to tackle shame? What if you spend nights awake mulling over your flaws and not enough-ness? What if you critique yourself before you even gave yourself a chance to create something?
It's a challenge that Jenn Bovee can help you with, and she's going to be live to talk about shame in my Facebook group. Wednesday, Sept. 27. 11:30 AM Pacific/1:30 PM Central.
Let's tackle our freakin' shame together.
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Note: This was originally a social media post.
This year, I've been focusing on listening to my intuition and expressing my satya or truth.
And part of my truth is this: Social justice is important to me. And, there's a loooooooot of work to do. And as a yoga teacher, I see a lot of spiritual bypassing -- and it takes so much away from the work.
Today, I come to you as someone who is tired. I'm tired of seeing people engage in spiritual bypass, which is so so so common in the wellness industry.
Spiritual bypassing is when you use spiritual practices (such as yoga or meditation) to feel good and avoid dealing with the truth. It's a dangerous form of denial and is often disguised as self-care. There is a shadow side to everything, and it includes spirituality.
"Spiritual bypass shields us from the truth, it disconnects us from our feelings, and helps us avoid the big picture. It is more about checking out than checking in—and the difference is so subtle that we usually don't even know we are doing it." ~Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D.
Let me be frank, I have done it. Spiritual bypassing was me as a teenager, not knowing any better, using my yoga practice as therapy sessions. Now, it's not to say yoga can't help people with their ailments and symptoms. But I used yoga as the ONLY tool to deal with my depression. I refused to get any more help than a 75 minute hatha class.
And when it felt good, it felt good. But there was an extent to that and when it stopped feeling good, it was devastating. I felt like a loser because I could not distract myself enough from the truth about my depression. That's what spiritual bypass is, a dangerous mindset of distraction.
It's sooo dangerous because if we could just spiritualize everything wrong in our lives, or the world, why would we take any real action to fix it?
Here's a very painful, unfortunate example. I know a woman who was in an abusive relationship. She said, perhaps I was really bad to him in a past life. Perhaps, that's why he's so bad to me now.
Yes, it can be that horrifying.
Now let's take this back to social justice and you...
When you see news about white supremacists and neo-Nazis parading around and inciting violence... How do you use your spiritual practices as a response?
Do you go to yoga class as a way to de-stress from reading all the news and go on with your day?
Do you go to yoga class as a way to spiritualize the information, in order to cope with things and then do nothing else?
Do you go to yoga class, practice a tonglen or lovingkindness meditation, and then hope for the best?
Because that's spiritual bypass, my friends. And I KNOW, as tempting as it is to fall into that trap, you CAN do better.
Here's the thing... I don't teach yoga and meditation so people (a majority of who are white folks) can spiritually bypass. I teach yoga and meditation so you can (hopefully) ground yourself, find self-compassion, embody the ethics of yamas and niyamas, and find the strength to get out and do the things that need to be done.
At this very moment in history, I pray that my yoga and meditation offerings can inspire people to find the strength in themselves to go and speak out against racism and hatred. Especially if you are white, you should know that your voice and actions are extremely important in the fight for social justice/against white supremacy. Because as nice as spiritual practices are, they won't get rid of racism alone.
So please, find a way around spiritual bypass. Face the truth. Allow the news of Charlottesville and racism to bother the f*ck out of you. Take a yoga/meditation class to ground yourself and be reminded of your own true nature. And then let it guide you to go out and DO something.
On overcoming spiritual bypassing
Listen, I'm not perfect. I, too, struggle to do my part and not burn out. On some days, I am tempted to turn off the news and namaste it all away. But I'd like to share some ways I commit to stay engaged and show up, from a yoga perspective.
Introducing my NEW virtual workshop, Inner Peace, Outer Chaos: Showing Up When Times are Tough AF. Get it 50% off by using the code LOVINGKINDNESS. I've been wanting to be more vocal about my stance on social justice and combining it with yoga and other healing arts. I used to think... Who am I to want to offer this kind of workshop? Who am I to want to speak about these issues? But I know deep inside this is the right step for me to take. I sincerely hope you join me.
I wanted to take some time this week to simply reflect on the first half of 2017 and share with you what I've learned...
Self-compassion is a necessary skill
I think after I finish out my 20s, I'd like to write a self-help book for young women. I have a theory -- and I'm using myself as an experiment here, that self-compassion is the key to getting through these years.
Self-compassion is being kind to yourself. Self-compassion is not letting the inner critic roam. Self-compassion is saying, I messed up and yet I am still worthy. Self-compassion is what I wish I learned about in my teens. But it's better late than never.
2017 has forced me to be self-compassionate in order to survive the ups and downs of this year. I live in a time that is both extremely exciting, and frankly scary. So learning how to be nice to myself when things don't go as I planned, has helped me stay grounded. I do it by practicing lovingkindness meditation, and by simply approaching life with the knowledge that I am inherently worthy.
Connection is as easy is improv
I'm a former theatre kid. Maybe because of this, I have found a relationship between real life interactions and the art of improvisation. After all, everyone's just winging it, no?
The rules of improv are simple. It's to abide by "yes, and..." Meaning, you say "yes" to whatever situation you're in, then you add onto that scene.
"Yes... this is the moment I'm in, and I am going to do this..."
Besides meditation, I'd say improv taught me how to stay in the moment. I've realized that connecting with people is as easy as saying yes to the situation we're in, and then being courageous. In every day life, I add myself to the "scene" by expressing my truth. (If this sounds dramatic, sorry not sorry! I'm a Leo like that!)
I think that's the heart of connection -- embracing the moment and being truthful (satya).
People are people
In January, I got a gig to teach middle school students five days a week. It was a little daunting, but I figured it out: They were people! More recently, I've been hired at two yoga studios in the local area. I was truly nervous about delivering to yoga studio goers, but I figured it out again: They were people!
People are people means simply that at the core, everyone wants the same things. Everyone wants to be heard and validated. Everyone wants to feel love and happiness. I've learned to stop stressing about whether people like me or my class, I've learned to let them come and do them.
It doesn't matter if you're 12 or 62, in my yoga class you will practice moving with invitational language. You will practice listening to your intuition. You will practice lovingkindness meditation and self-compassion. You will practice being as you are. And, you will be guided by someone who is also practicing the same things.
It's been such a big year for me, and I hope to learn more wonderful lessons. This weekend I'm going to Portland to do a training with LoveYourBrain. I can't wait!
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