Quick thoughts: Perfect

Perfect is a relative term. Nothing is ever perfect, but sometimes there’s a simple perfection to the imperfect nature of things, and perfect becomes exactly what’s happening in those moments.

It’s not perfect when it’s a million degrees outside plus humidity, and I forget all my good makeup in NYC for a wedding in Connecticut, and we leave for Norway in less than a week and I have to teach two classes and there is no time for anything. It’s not perfect when A is in pain because of his back and I’m not going to see him till we’re at the airport on Friday and I forgot my work laptop at home this morning and my 6:30am Uber driver won’t stop talking on the ride from Forest Hills to Washington Heights and all I want to do is sleep. It’s not perfect when I’m about to leave my cat and my new job and my everything except for A for 11 days and I’m so terrified and anxious about it.

But it’s all perfect. It was perfect to watch my oldest friend marry his soul mate, even in the million degree heat, even without my good makeup. It’s perfect that after two months of barely seeing each other because life is so busy that A and I get almost two full weeks with just each other. It’s perfect that I’m teaching classes this week before I leave because that’s something that makes me happier than just about everything, and it’s perfect.

It’s perfect. It’s perfect just because it is. Because we are. Because you are. It’s all relative. But it’s all perfect too.

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Aura and Energy

This past weekend was my last weekend in the city till September. September! I suppose that’s not too far away now, but last Friday it felt like a big deal and a long time. I wanted to soak in the energy of a summer weekend in the city in every possible way for those two days, knowing it’s the last precious few days where I can do exactly that; I had Friday night with A and friends, and all day Saturday with A and friends, but I took Sunday to be with my friends. I met a beautiful yogi friend from my training days for what turned out to be an intense free class at the Lululemon in the Meatpacking, followed by coffee, a fruit cup and then yoga in the park with strangers who are friends. I made it home around 5 that night, feeling completely invigorated, until I sat down on the couch and realized, amusingly, I was too sore to get back up.

Sunday was, in total, about six hours of yoga. Not a restorative or slow practice, not the calming hippie yoga stereotype; I spent six hours on my hands and my forearms, in splits and backbends, going upside down, trying new things like acroyoga, meeting new people for high fives and hugs. It was exhausting and amazing and I truly didn’t even notice how sore I was even then I didn’t care. It had been the perfect Sunday in Central Park, a perfect New York City Sunday to hold me over till September, and I went to bed on Sunday thinking I had never felt better, spiritually, emotionally, mentally.

And then I woke up the next morning at 5am to watch my Monday rapidly crumble to the worst migraine I’ve had in months.

Yoga philosophy says that there are thousands of energy channels throughout the body, kept healthy through self-care like asana practice and avoiding vices, but when these channels are blocked, all sorts of problems can happen. Fear stays near the chest above the heart, negativity and self-criticism settles into the hips, anxiety takes root in the shoulders and neck; it’s why sometimes yogis cry in savasana, because all this blocked energy has finally been released and now it has to get out somehow. Some yogis joke that a good sweaty practice can fix just about anything, but I would counter-suggest that it can open you up to a backlash of suppressing all those emotions and feelings for so long.

Last week I had to take four days off from any serious practice because of a back injury, and by the end of day 2 I noticed a serious difference in my demeanor. I was irritable, my attention span was even more out of control than usual; I wrote a whole post about it because I was just… off. My anxiety was back, I was getting upset about my physical body and those ten pounds that have crept on in 2016, and really nothing made me feel even a semblance of okay until I went to that Lulu class on Sunday. Had I stopped there, had I not spent the entire afternoon in the park continuing with the intense movement, who knows if the migraine would have happened. While I was in the worst of it on Monday though, I couldn’t help but wonder.

The migraine hit peak for me about 2pm on Monday, despite my retaliatory efforts of Excedrin and many essential oils. I laid in my bed and I tried to push through it but then my face was burning and my nose was burning and my eyes were trying to push out of my skull with every pound, pound, pound of the hammer of my heartbeat. The symptoms were getting worse and worse, and I could feel everything getting bigger. I took a deep breath trying to calm down, but instead it made everything so painful that I completely let go of whatever fight I had against the pounding in my skull and within a second I started to cry.

When I finally stopped crying and I could take that deep, if raggedy, breath, I started to calm down. I could feel the calm rush up from the base of my spine, into my chest, across my collarbone, up my neck and finally, finally, finally, a flush of relief through my brain. Over the next few hours I slowly made my way out of bed, put on my glasses and took a long shower, breathing deeply the whole time. I slept for 10 hours that night and woke up for work feeling like a new person; my focus was better, my mood was better, and when I saw A last night for the first time this week I practically leapt into his arms, flush with the good energy of being in love. I’m still physically sore from six hours of yoga this weekend, and this week is not without its challenges. But after a week of feeling like something was off, it only took a serious migraine and a good cry to turn my particular breed of sunshine back on, full throttle.

Fog Lights

Yesterday was a weird day. I tried to write a post about this past weekend, where we celebrated how wonderful E is and what it’s like to watch someone change their life for the better, but it kept coming up short. I wanted to tie it into a larger piece about our pasts and maybe eventually I will, but I kept stopping and staring at the words. I felt really stifled at the thought of delving back into my past for inspiration. I started to feel really stifled at the thought of my past at all. And I started to tell myself that maybe this reality I’m living would become a similar type of past in the near future, and this giant fog fell over my whole day that I couldn’t shake for anything.

I’m really bad at being happy, it turns out. Like, resorting to self-sabotage-bad at enjoying happiness for what it is in that moment instead of freaking out that things are going too well and have to stop going that well soon. It comes in waves, this resurgence of the anxiety that’s plagued me for years, but lately it’s sticking around. It’s not like it used to be, where it was intrinsically connected to my then-self, where I couldn’t disconnect where my anxiety ended and I began. Right now it feels like a bandaid I don’t want to rip off; I know it’s not a part of me and it’s temporary, but I’d rather let it hang out to the side for now and I’ll get rid of it when I’m ready. Anxiety sticks to everything when you pay it too much attention: new job, finances, plans for the next year, and relationships. Right now I’ve managed to assuage fears about the new job, about our budget for the Norwegian adventure, about any plans that haven’t come to fruition, and so it stuck to my relationship, because I’m really, really happy, so obviously that means everything is wrong.

When you live in this mindset it’s hard to be present externally because you’re so focused on what’s happening inside your ego, your mind.  Last night A and I went out for dinner with a few friends in Queens and I think I said three sentences all night. He could tell immediately I was off, but didn’t push, he just let me sit and be, clearly inside my own head about absolutely nothing.  When he asked me later “are you okay?” I told him the truth and said “Yes,” because I am okay. I’m just off, and I don’t know why. Sometimes for people that’s a lot to handle, when someone is okay but then again they’re not, and there’s nothing to do to fix it.

Not A, though. No, he knew exactly what to do. He didn’t push me to talk when we got back to his place; he didn’t try to offer solutions to fix every problem in my life and he didn’t ignore that I was off. Instead, he put on Last Week Tonight, handed me my favorite sweatpants of his and we snacked on peanut butter pretzels. When we settled into the couch he laid behind me and held me close. He stroked my hair and kissed my cheek and said he’d missed me the previous week. And we stayed there, half asleep, even after the show was over and the television was blank, until it was time to go to bed, where we talked about Norway till we fell asleep in the middle of sentences.

I woke up this morning like a new person, like something had been switched back to “on” and I could see through the fog. I made us coffee and we watched old SNL clips for no reason until it was time to leave. It felt like the bandaid had fallen off overnight and all the delving back into my past from the weekend that opened up the old anxiety wound didn’t matter anymore. The past has happened and the future will come, but the present is really beautiful for what it is: the sliver of sunshine amid a sea of fog that comes with a little self-awareness and a whole lot of love.

What if it’s not perfect?

Last night I was stretching a bit when I decided to film my warm-up for an Instagram post. I use Instagram as a way to connect with other yogis, to help promote classes, and yes, to show off if I’ve learned something new, but honestly it has a tendency to cause me more stress than happiness. Instagram posts have to be PERFECT, you need a million and one likes, everyone is judging. I judge the videos I put up there more any anyone, watching my form, critiquing myself as a student and a teacher. Last night when I decided to take a video, I had to break from warming up to set up the shot: decide what angle to shoot, which mat to use, I had to put on a bra… the more I put the “set” together, the most anxiety I started to feel. What if this angle looks bad? What if it’s not right? What if it’s not perfect?

For a minute I thought about calling the “shoot” off, because let’s be real, if you’re stressed out about yoga you’re doing it wrong. But then I realized that the only thing that was going to calm me down was yoga. It’s ironic, almost, that I was creating anxiety by setting up to practice, but as I laid on the mat and started to stretch, I forgot that the camera was on. It’s like yoga was setting me up to remind me that everything is always okay at the end of the day. Even when you’re stressed, or sad, or confused, or all of the above rolled into a weird pit of anxiety that stays in your stomach, at the end of the day, things have a way of working themselves out, and everything is going to be okay. That was a great way to end a Thursday night, as I woke up this morning knowing I’ll have to say some really tough goodbyes.

Change is wonderful but it’s scary. Sometimes I start chasing change, but in other aspects of my life change isn’t necessary. Change, though, can come at any time, when you expect it or when you don’t, and sometimes change chases you when you least expect or need it. Sometimes the stars align and the next two weeks, six months, one year, three years all start to form in this beautiful plan, that makes everything seem so obvious and clear and yet at the same time it makes everything in this moment really freaking sad.

I gave notice at a job I loved on Tuesday. It’s the kind of job I’ve spent my whole career looking for: great clients, great culture, great location, great everything. But more than all of those parts it was great people. It was people that, without realizing, helped me become a stronger, smarter and more driven person. That’s the kicker, really – their pushing me to become better is the reason I gave notice on Tuesday, because pushing me to do better is pushing me somewhere else as a result. Today I’m leaving this job and I’m leaving in tears. I  know it’s the right decision, but oh man right now it sucks.

I’m really nervous. Nervous about leaving today and starting somewhere new in a few weeks. What if I don’t like the new job? What if it’s not right? What if it’s not perfect? But it’s just like yoga fixing anxiety caused by yoga – the only thing that’s going to calm me down is to walk in the new office doors and start working. It’s going to be different and scary. But things have a way of working themselves out, in the end. They always do.

Stuck.

The scene: New York City, May 2016. In an office overlooking the High Line and the Hudson on a sunny Thursday, late morning. Surrounded by the click, click, click of keyboards, someone else coughing, the occasional ping of a new email or a new chat. I’m sitting at my desk getting through work and trying to plan the next few weeks and months of travel and classes while firing off emails to clients and team members to move everything along so we can get out of the office on time tonight and grab a drink together. A blank draft of this post has been staring at me for days and I can’t figure out how to fill the lines: another edition of Friendly Conversations after a few doozies from A and T this week? Another draft entry to thin the 30+ piling up in that folder, half-thoughts and quotes from Instagram trying to ignite inspiration? Something else where I come to the conclusion that life is beautiful and change is good? The blank pages stare at me like a toddler in a candy store for the first time and I’m only inspired to write down one word: STUCK.

If there’s a theme for my life since March, that theme is “STUCK.” Life going into the end of 2015 made a lot of sense: I was about to start yoga training, after which obviously I’d immediately become the best-ever yoga teacher and land all of the jobs for extra money to put towards the move out of NYC, where I would of course immediately find a studio job and all of the firms back home would fall all over themselves to hire me as a consultant. I had many months of solitude and “finding myself” before the move because who wants to date when you’re trying to uproot everything? I had direction and I had a plan and it was a plan I couldn’t wait to follow. And then before training even started, the plan had started to crumble. Now that I’m passed everything I “expected” to happen this year – certified yoga teacher, auntie to two perfect little babes – and adjusted to the things I didn’t expect, I’m starting to feel like the things I’d planned and prepared for are no longer. All of a sudden I’m in this spot where nearly everything around me has changed, but nearly everything feels exactly the same.

Same apartment, same job. New(ish) boyfriend, new tattoos. Same friends, new friends. The balance of same and different in my life seems to cancel itself out, and I’m just here trying to figure out where everything is going next. Will I stay working as I’m working because I have to? Can I shape my life around the plan I had when moving was on the table? In the past five weeks I’ve gotten two more tattoos and changed my hair color, all in what is probably my adult way of “rebelling” against feeling stuck; I’m inciting change because I feel like that’s what this year was going to be about, and maybe it still is, but it doesn’t feel like it. It feels the same. But it’s not the same at all.

I just feel stuck. I’m missing pieces of a previous lifetime so much lately that I wonder if I willed an email into existence; I’m overjoyed at every ping of my phone or my gchat because my new normal is better than I could have imagined. I haven’t been practicing the same way that I normally do, and really I’ve been out of my routine with yoga for most of the year; I still practice every single day for at least 10 minutes and I don’t know where I’d be without it. Everything is changing. Nothing has changed. Life is moving forward; life hasn’t moved an inch. There are changes happening every way, day, minute, moment around me, I ran into some of them and away from others.

I’m in the middle of everything that’s static and shaking and I. Feel. Stuck.

Swingandamiss

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true.”
~ Leon J. Suenes

Things are happening here that I didn’t expect. My week has been rattled ever so slightly and it’s completely throwing me off. I know I promised to post yesterday and now I’m posting a nothing entry today. But please know it’s not because I don’t have anything to say. It’s because right now I have too much to say, and it’s crowding its way out of my brain. I can’t get the thoughts out because once I pay attention to one, another pops up, and then another comes out of nowhere, and then things start happening and I’m so overwhelmed I have to shut my computer down before I scream.

Life throws us curveballs. That’s what it’s here for; that’s what it’s supposed to do. There were two this week that have really rattled me, so much so that the only things keeping me going at this point are the promise of dinner with A later tonight and a weekend with G in Texas. The juxtaposition of those two things is what makes the quote above and the announcement later in the week so darkly funny. None of what’s going on is funny at all, really, but in the comedic relief of life’s curveballs, all I can do when I think about this week, especially after the events this afternoon, is laugh. Better than crying, at least.

Friday I’m posting part one of a two-part entry, where the big “thing” I’ve been alluding to for the past nine months (*I’m not pregnant) will finally be out in the universe. It’s been a whirlwind since I first made a decision to change my life and somewhere in the time between then and now, my whole life has changed around me. It’s wild sometimes, looking around and marveling at how things have turned out. It’s terrifying, sometimes, to stray from your plan.

So in the spirit of wild, terrifying, sad, curvy things that are flying around me like spring fever, I’m going to finish out this day at work, one that threw me an entirely unwelcome but not unsurprising twist, and make my way through the rest of this week before I’m in Texas with my G. Good vibes appreciated, if you can spare any this way.

I didn’t plan to post today.

Really though. I originally had ambitions of posting something thoughtful today, and then I couldn’t pull myself together in time to write the draft (it’ll go on Monday PROMISE). I thought today would be a good day to hold on posting in favor of waiting until I had something really interesting to write about, like what I’ll hopefully be posting on Monday. And then I started reading this article while browsing the interwebz at lunch, and a line gave me so much pause that I did something unthinkable. In this article on xoJane, the writer mentions a one-sided romance she had before meeting her fiancé, and says this: “The cliff-hanger ending of that story rattled me deep.” Almost immediately after reading that, I had this ridiculous impulse to click over to Facebook, take a deep breath, and type The Child’s name into the search bar.

What was I thinking? Why am I doing this? All questions that were running through my brain as I lightly pressed the keys, finding a small bit of amusement in how I couldn’t recall exactly how to spell his last name. I wasn’t expecting or wanting to see anything. I wasn’t looking at him because I missed him or because I wanted to know about his life. I literally had no reason to be clicking on his profile and yet even in my small hesitation as I went to click through, I couldn’t stop myself. And then all of a sudden there I was, looking at the same face that broke up with me over a text message and then strung me along for a few months before he left Manhattan for good. I felt nothing as I looked at him. Pity, maybe, that he has to keep living with himself, and his self is not a good person. A flicker of nostalgia for a time where my weekends were late nights with R&H, where I had three tattoos and long hair, where I was thinking maybe this yoga thing was something to explore. But mostly? I felt nothing.

Why are we compelled to check-in with people that break our hearts? In the two years since he came crashing into my life on that cold subway platform, I’ve moved jobs, cut off all my hair, gotten three tattoos (nearly four), received my yoga teacher certification and found someone who could really be someone. Nearly everything about me has changed, save for my apartment and morning commute; and yet even with all of this, a single line in an article can bring me back to 2014 LB who was curious about a cute stranger on a train. I’ve long since stopped being angry; I haven’t cared about him in years, and I knew that looking at his face from behind a social media profile wouldn’t change any of that, and I didn’t want it to! So why the fuck did I feel the need to do it.

What is it about exes that keep such an odd hold on us? I suppose it’s not all exes: the big Ex and I have maintained a friendly relationship since we fell apart, a testament to his maturity and how much we really did love each other while we were together; when he pops up on social media I feel that little pinch in my heart that calls to the piece that will always love him. But I don’t “check in” with him ever, really, because if I really wanted to check-in with him I’d text him to make plans for coffee. Frankly, I don’t know that I’ve been compelled to “check-in” on any ex, whether we’re officially ‘exes’ or not, and yet despite having not thought about him in months, reading that one sentence today brought my thoughts immediately back to that person. Both people, I suppose: who he is and who I was when he knew me.

Is there a conclusion to this post? Not really. The whole story is no more than “I thought about a stupid fuck of an ex for the first time in months today and figured I’d see if he changed his profile picture and he didn’t.” Barely an interesting sentence, let alone a full post. Perhaps there’s something about being in a not-so new-anymore relationship, where you’re still learning about each other but you’ve settled into a comfortably boring and perfect routine, where you’re making plans for the immediate and distant future like they’re one in the same; perhaps there’s something about that which calls to mind what it took to find that person and that point of happiness. I kissed a lot of toads and one whopper of a snake before I met a prince. Maybe that’s the lesson learned in all of this: people shape our lives for specific reasons. The surest mark of growth is looking at a face that once made you swoon and sob at the same time and feel absolutely not a damn thing.

Hold it back//let it go

I’m super frustrated today.

No, it’s not because I’ve barely been posting lately. That’s also frustrating, don’t get me wrong, but honestly it’s been hard to write this month. My 2016 can be described very simply so far: January and February are a blur of YTT, and March has been catching up on the life I missed during January and February. There has barely been time to clean my apartment or see little miss; there has barely been time to see all the friends and family that are clamoring for my attention now that I have a semblance of free time and there has barely been time to sleep in between all of the above. Blogging, unfortunately, has had to take a back seat to life for March, but I am so hopeful that April I can get into a groove of this new life that’s emerging in 2016, where I’m working full time, in between teaching yoga, in between blogging with some regularity.

And no, I’m not frustrated because I had a bad weekend. Actually my weekend was lovely. I decided to work from Connecticut on Friday, and spent the day with my parents, helping to clean up around the house ahead of the holiday and snuggling with their pup, the sweetest puppy in the world. And this weekend A came to my hometown for the first time to meet my parents (*but mostly the puppy); Saturday was a wonderful day where I gave Mama B a private yoga lesson in the morning and A and I explored all around my hometown in the afternoon, before heading back to the house to drink too much wine with my parents and enjoy every minute together. On Sunday morning, after I finally managed to drag my father away from lending A yet another book or telling us about yet another cheap flight he found for us this summer for our trip to Norway, A and I drove back to Queens and then out to Long Island for too much mac ‘n cheese and more wine. We sat in traffic for more than an hour on the way back last night, but it was time well spent, regaling each other with stories from our wild college days and singing along to Sublime on the radio until we made it back to Forest Hills and I fell asleep for a minute in his arms on the couch, perfectly content after a perfect weekend.

So let’s recap: I’m not frustrated because I’m not blogging. I’m not cranky that it’s Monday because I had a great weekend. It’s the last quarter moon this week so I should feel that it’s a good time for resting and rejuvenating ahead of April, where I have a little event we’ll call four.05 happening next week and a trip to Austin to visit G a few days after that. Basically everything in my life is reminding me how grateful and lucky I am for every piece of my days and my life and yet I’m sitting here at my desk after barely sleeping last night because I’m so goddamn frustrated about something it’s driving me nuts. And what’s worse? I can’t even talk about it here.

Next week, starting on Friday, I have an entry scheduled to publish. It’s one I’ve been working on for nearly eight months now, and it’s one anyone who’s been reading this blog for that long will have been anticipating for about that long: next Friday, I’m finally going to talk about the Big Change that I’ve been referencing since last summer. There’s a very specific reason that I’m posting that entry next Friday, but something I didn’t anticipate when I started writing the entry was that it would actually require two parts to tell the full story. It’s not Part One I’m worried about posting next week, either. It’s Part Two. Because while the content of the story won’t change in either part, there is a major point in the surprising conclusion that I can’t talk about yet, because something needs to happen first before I do.

The thing that needs to happen is something I can’t control. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a really long time and something I know from the deepest part of me. It’s a thing that I know is true not just for me, and it’s something that has gotten to the point that it’s so tangible it almost hurts. It’s something that I can barely hold back anymore but it’s something I can’t give first unfortunately, as much as part of me wants to because I’m bursting holding it in this much, and I can’t do it much longer. So I’m frustrated, holding something in that just wants to be known. Why tell you about this, instead of just pushing the posts? I’m not sure, really. Part of me is tempting fate, being so open about this; the rest of me doesn’t care. I can only hold so much of myself back from this space anymore, having been held back for most of this year already. I suppose you’ll have to tune in this time on April 11 to see if part two holds true.

Snap.

Monday night for a really long time I sat on the couch breathing deeply. I didn’t want to respond to the fairly innocuous texts waiting on my phone, I didn’t care enough about Netflix to pay attention, I couldn’t get on the mat because of an injury and I could feel that I was about to burst, so I just sat on the couch breathing. Breathe in, try to wrap my mind around the anxiety that was forming as anger in my core; breathe out and let it all go. It took a while but I finally calmed down, enough to pick up my phone and respond, press play on Arrested Development and wind down from the spike of emotions before going to sleep. Yesterday morning I went to meditate, as I do most mornings these days, and found I couldn’t sit still for anything, still agitated from the happenings of the previous day. What exactly set me off so much that I’m working through these cycles of quick anger and slow calm, even now at my desk? Nothing, really. This week I just snapped.

Anxiety is a bitch of an emotion with a lot of unpleasant physical symptoms to boot, as many people know and some know much better than others. I suffered from at-times crippling anxiety for many years; not that I couldn’t leave my apartment or had to leave my job crippling, but yelling at my friends and family for imagined indiscretions and hiding in an office bathroom crying kind of crippling. It’s one the reasons I love yoga so much. Yoga has made it really possible to calm myself down, to separate my Self from my anxiety, looking at it almost like a separate part of myself that I can subdue by not giving into its cries for attention. 9 times out of 10, that approach works for me. But sometimes all of that anxious energy builds up in me and I can’t find a way to get rid of it, and something tiny will set me off and it bursts out of me like  a firework, generally in the form of anger. Recently it’s been this vicious cycle; I can stay calm in moments that used to feed into anxious energy and instead the energy stores, until I get an unwanted text or Snapchat and it explodes in rage out of my body. It’s like I’ve finally learned how to calm down my anxiety but now I’ve created a whole new beast I need to face.

Anger is a scary emotion. It’s unpredictable and empowering at the same time; it feels good to release the anger on someone or something else, whether they deserve it or not. Anger is intoxicating in its own way; where Anxiety makes you want to crawl in a hole reliving that one embarrassing moment from middle school over and over, Anger gives you the power to yell, to assert yourself and your opinion. It gives you ammunition to fight for yourself in one way other, your views or your free time or whatever else may be offended. Anger is power; Anxiety is fear. Neither one of those matter when one is in a yogic state of mind, and yet even with all my Zen AF yogi training, I still have too many moments where I’m chasing that anger high, even though I know the come down can be just as bad as the original offending emotion.

Yesterday I felt it snap again, after trying to focus on the good things like how today is my Friday and and I have family to look forward to this weekend, but a text set me off and I spent the next three hours breathing myself through a fit of anger. I left the office in a huff, walked 20 blocks up to the subway stop up from the one I normally take to blow off some steam and proceeded to wait over 20 minutes for a train. After about minute fifteen I could feel the anger I’d been suppressing percolating like mad: fucking MTA. I just want to go home. Who are all these people trying to push me to look down an empty tunnel. The train is going to be uncomfortably crowded. I could feel my frustration wanting to emerge in tears, in yelling, in cursing, in something, just something to get it out of me and release that energy onto someone else who could handle it better.

But instead I took another deep breath and paid attention to my heartbeat and my thoughts. I appreciated the moment where I was just then: I wasn’t about to leave to take a cab home so I just had to wait, knowing eventually there would be a train and eventually I would be home. I stood, leaning against the painted metal of the station, and counted every inhale, and every exhale. The anger subsided just as the train rolled in and I leaned against the doors I knew wouldn’t open till the end of my trip and I kept breathing. At that moment a large group of loud tourists packed into the train and started yelling at each other across the car, but I just turned up my headphones and focused on the song in my ears. And as I poured all my attention into the melody flowing through each ear and through me, the song crooned “Life is in love. Life is in love. Life is in love.” I smiled, and replayed the song. I may have snapped the past week, finally breaking from Zen-yogi LB who has been running the show for weeks now, but she’ll come back always if I can remember those words: life isn’t in the intoxicating pull of yelling at strangers or hiding in a corner. Life is in love. Love is life is love. I think I can breathe into that.

Good Vibrations

**I’m just going to go ahead and preface this post that we’re about to get real hippie up in this blog. Like, complete and total stereotypical yoga hippie. Please feel free to leave now and come back next weekend after I do something stupid while drunk. Don’t worry, I won’t be mad.

Last weekend in YTT, we had a really powerful moment towards the end of the Sunday, the official halfway mark of the program. We were all exhausted from around 8 hours of practice across two days (11 hours if you count Thursday and Friday… I hurt), and we’d spent a lot of the weekend discussing mantras and chanting; the day ended with the group in a circle singing the Maha Mantra and clapping along, while three yoga mats were never empty in the middle, each of us offering a small yoga flow, or our favorite pose, or just something to each other to commemorate the incredible bond we’re forming in such a short time, basking in how palpable the love and support was in that room. I left after having shed more than a few tears in the final meditation, just bursting with emotions and feeling like I was on top of the world. There’s a tangible feeling radiating from a person when you’ve experienced something like that – in yogic terms, it’s like operating on a different level of consciousness. In layman’s terms, I’m talkin’ about good vibrations.

Energy. In scientific terms, it’s the property of an object that can be transferred or changed but never destroyed. In real life, it’s that feeling when you walk into a room of laughing people and you immediately feel happier, or how one stressed out and cranky coworker can bring the whole team vibe down (what? I’ve never done that). Through our own practice in life, yogis learn to be more sensitive, more attuned to the energies within our own bodies and minds, and a side effect is you become infinitely more aware of the energy of people around you. It’s why you’ll hear a yogi refer to someone in terms like “she has such a beautiful energy” or “I couldn’t handle being around that negative energy much longer.” It starts to become palpable, tangible how strangers and friends are feeling, even when they don’t say a word.  I feel like my people-sensory skills have completely exploded in the last month of yoga training, so much so that it’s caused a massive shift in my mindset around my life in New York City, where it is, where it’s been, and where I thought it was headed, until recently.

These kind of vibrations, this elevated consciousness or whatever you want to believe it might be aren’t limited to the moment you’re standing next to someone, and they don’t require someone to look you in the face. It’s why people can’t interpret text messages sometimes, like when you start dating someone and you can’t tell if they’re flirting with you or brushing you off; the words say one thing but your intuition is telling you it’s something else, the words are real but the feelings are implied. At times even the most direct words have a subtle vibration of something deeper to them, so instead of cutting through you, causing anxiety or even inciting you to engage, your reaction is a sad smile and maybe even some sense of relief. Because the more attuned you are to all of these vibrations, the good and the bad and the in-between, you’re also sensitive to what energies you’ll allow in your life, knowing they have the power to affect you when you least expect and least need them to.

Something we practice in yoga is ahimsa, non-harming, compassion. There are a million ways to interpret ahimsa in modern life, but in this case I’m referring to one of the most basic: don’t harm yourself. Don’t think negative things about the body that sustains your life in this world, nourish it with good foods and self-care. And more importantly don’t bring negativity into your Self, into your consciousness. Like begets like- negativity breeds negativity, and if you choose to surround yourself and engage with negative energy, that negativity will come back to your own life. I spent so many years of my life breeding negative thoughts about my physical and mental self that I’m only now barely scratching the surface of what it really means to be happy. The first step in that is an easy one though: the first step is to remove myself from situations where I’m doused in negative energy and focus on the rest of the positive things that have come into my life in recent and not-so-recent days and weeks. Like begets like – and cultivating this positive energy around me is something I have a feeling I’ll need in the months ahead, where the Big Change I thought I wanted is changing right before my eyes.