Learning to stay

One of the practices in yoga and Buddhism is learning to stay. Stay with the sensation, stay with the discomfort, stay through the overwhelming desire to bolt. This can pertain to asana or emotion, on or off the mat.

Over my lifetime I perfected the art of bolting, either physically or just curling inside of myself, becoming unreachable, nurturing my self harm, agonizing in the luxuriating belief that I am inherently broken and unlovable.

There have been many studies lately on the idea that the root of all addiction stems from a lack of connection to other humans. Yes, there is a genetic component, of which I am well aware and embody. However, I very much agree with the concept that there is more going on.

When we don’t behave like the status quo, when the emotions feel bigger than our body yet we aren’t taught what that means or how to cope, we start our practice of “moving away from”. There is a prolific amount of “emotion shaming” in our culture. Stoicism is considered brave, graceful, courageous. The ideal objective. Yet what people are slow to realize is that by stuffing the natural human emotions of fear, sadness and anger we are literally polluting our interior which inevitably physically manifests later. Trust me.

I am someone who has always had emotions bigger than my body. I feel things in oceanic overdrive. I have been labeled, ridiculed, diagnosed and categorized. In my younger years I coped with just about every numbing technique out there, giving me an authentic pass into almost12992123_10209090134239401_2061443707_n any 12 step recovery group. As I’ve matured and had life experiences I’ve come to understand that feelings won’t kill me, even when that feels plausible. Other people feel fucked up too even when they act superior¬†(which stems from lack of connection, too), and people will judge when they don’t understand.

Teaching my children that there is nothing wrong with them for feeling emotions is a huge priority for me. My son is very much like me, bless his heart.  He feels in technicolor, as I do. He was bullied in school and seeds were planted in him early on as they were planted in me.  As he begins to navigate the world as a young adult I constantly remind him there is nothing wrong with him, yet having the sensitivity that we do requires we learn how to navigate the world in specific ways. I sure as shit wish someone could have been a guide for me when I was younger, if for no other reason than just not to feel so fucking alone with everything. Who knows how much of what I try to teach him will land. I know I am planting new seeds for him, and I hope that he chooses, as I must, to water this new growth.

I am a teacher. I am a guide. I have been intensely fucked up and addicted and I am now thriving.

I have learned to stay.

What’s worth doing even if I fail?

I love this question. It’s a type of question that stops me in my tracks. It’s a twist on the classic question “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail”, which I quite like, too.

But the initial question above asks even if I DO completely face plant in my endeavor was it still worth it? For me, the answer is a resounding YES! The reason? Because I had the courage to attempt something. The courage to stretch myself beyond my comfort zone. The courage to risk vulnerability, judgment, ridicule, and also love, appreciation and respect.

Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech once titled “The Man in the Arena”. In this speech (and I’ll paraphrase) he talks about the man who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings. [He] who at best knows the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

I dared greatly this year. I said yes to experiences that scared the shit out of me and ignited the samskaras of old. I have wanted to hide my achievements out of a codependent desire to not make anyone feel bad. I have dimmed my light because I felt it was arrogant to be proud of myself.

There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance.

I notice the people who celebrate with me and who stay quiet when I succeed and achieve. I have spent what feels like a couple lifetimes basing my worth on the reactions of others. “Oh they like this? I must be ok. Oh they didn’t ‘like’ it, I must suck”. Sound familiar? Then comes what Brene Brown refers to as the Shame Gremlins. Guilt is about what we’ve done, and shame is about who we feel we are. What I’ve learned is that shame is the fear of disconnection and that try as we might to deny it, we are hardwired to seek connection, love and belonging.

Brene states “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”. BAM!!!

How do we break out of the fear of being vulnerable? By that awareness I spoke of in my last blog. Awareness of the cognitive dissonance, or as I often say, the incongruity of how we feel and how we want to feel. That is what can spark change within us.

And, being vulnerable requires courage. There is no other way.

Of course I want to connect. I want to love and be loved. But that alone can’t determine nor define my actions. You will love me and connect with me or you won’t. But I walk away with my own courage either way.

**The pic is from a photo shoot for REI that just came online, and I am proud of it.