EMOTIONS.

Laying in final savasana (ed note: yogi nap) last night after a strenuous practice during YTT, I listened closely to my breath. You’re supposed to do that anyway, draw your attention to the breath cycle to help focus the mind away from its usual distractions, but this time I was listening as carefully as possible in the deep hope that no one could hear the ragged nature of each inhale, and the strained constraint of each exhale. I woke up yesterday feeling a million times better than Wednesday for no other reason that I can think of than I’d slept well and I had YTT to keep me distracted and occupied after an over-eventful week; but we’d worked on opening our hips in yoga that night and any good yogi knows the hips are where we store our negative emotions. Before we even got into the practical part of class last night, there I was like a total mush, shaking on each inhale and exhale as the wave of emotions I’d been living with and hiding from in the past 24 hours and 2 months coursed through me like wildfire, screaming for attention and trying to find some sense of release.

Emotions suck. Like, I’m sorry, but they suck. Yesterday while walking to YTT I gave Mama B a call to catch up on life since our conversation a full 6 hours prior; and while I was lamenting the choices I’ve made and will need to make in the coming days, she tried to give me some well-meaning mom advice: “Honey, you just have to let life happen.” “I KNOW THAT MOM,” I shot back at her, voice dripping with anger and sadness and confusion that I could feel releasing itself from the back of my throat, where it had settled in a long day of holding my tongue from screaming out loud. I felt awful within two seconds of snapping at her like that, she is probably the most incredible mother around and all she was trying to do was make me feel better. But when you’re tangled up in the rest of those emotions and you’re heading into a long weekend and there’s still another day in the office to go, things can bubble out of me and I’ll regret them immediately, sticking my mind into the past so I can relive the negativity until it makes me feel better, or numb. Which to be honest lately, are pretty much the same thing.

A principle of yoga is non-attachment, freeing the mind from anything that’s keeping you grounded to this world and the life that is distracting you from your true Self, your Purusha. Sometimes I think that sounds terrible: why would I want to detach myself from the lofty goals I’ve set for my life, going back as far as six months and looking ahead as far as eight? Why would I want to distance myself from the loving embrace of my family, the little reminders of friendship like a text from someone who could tell you were having a bad day, the way it feels when you settle into something emotionally like you’ve been waiting for it to find you for years? Yogis love; we spread love and we think love and we emote love, but we aren’t supposed to “love” things, whether physical possessions or people or the part of us that self-identifies on this earth, because once you understand that you’re loving temporary things, you’ll realize their non-permanence will eventually and inevitably bring you pain.

It’s weeks like this one that I’m glad part of me practices non-attachment. Because having a few hours each day and night to disconnect from the world outside, no phone, no social interaction outside the four walls of the studio helps me to disconnect from everything and just be. I’m disconnected from my emotions in that time because right now I can’t handle them, save for the wave that rushes through me and in me and around me once I’m lying in that final rest. But the rest of me is glad I’m not a full yogi on that level yet, because after a few months where everything felt like sunshine, I suppose I was overdue to feel and handle a little rain. I don’t know what’s going to happen next in the larger sense of these stupid fucking emotions that aren’t going away. But I do know what’s going to happen in the meantime: I’m going to focus on the good things, like a weekend ahead of yoga, the Nickname Posse Super Bowl and two days at home with my family. I’ll cling to the attachments I understand.

As for the rest of the emotions? I’ve got nothing. According to yogi-training, that’s the best I can hope for. Hoping for anything else at this point would be selfish. Except, perhaps, another perfectly emotional savasana after an evening in my happy place, distracted only by the present moment and a desire not to worry about the days ahead.

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Paths

If your path is more difficult, it means your calling is higher.

Maybe I’m spending too much time on Instagram lately, and like 90 percent of the people I follow are yogis so we’re all about mantras and good energy, but I seem to be finding a lot of inspirational quotes there lately. The one above posted late last night, as I scrolled through my feed while waiting patiently for all the essential oils treating the poison ivy on my torso (oh yeah IT SPREAD) to dry, and it made me stop for a minute. The person who wrote it talks about her faith a lot, and while I don’t necessarily share the same world view, there is something about that statement, especially when you’ve had a week like I have, that makes you think.

I fucked up this week. There’s really no better way to say it. After all of the great things that have been happening personally and professionally lately, this week threw me a real curveball. From one perspective, I’m not entirely surprised – it’s a new moon today – but from the others, I hate that I can work so hard and juggle so many pieces in the air, and do it well, only to have a gust of wind come by and cause everything to drop in a panic. Mistakes are learning experiences, and to some extent I know they have to happen for growth, but it does suck to be in the same position I was in this time last year, feeling once again like I’m making the same mistakes, if a little different as well. After a few meetings with my bosses yesterday things are making more sense, pieces are coming together, but I kept waiting to find myself in a ball under my desk, fist in my mouth to keep from screaming, entire body rigid to keep from crying. And yet, I managed to finish the day on a stronger note than I’d started, and instead of taking on my usual coping technique of “a large bottle of red wine alone in my apartment,” I took a walk after work to call my anchor G, made it back to my apartment before the sun went down, and spent an hour doing yoga, letting the stretching and balancing reset my whole perspective.

There were times in my life where things would happen and immediately everything looked bleak, like a black night, no moon, nothing ahead but darkness, searching feebly for a ray of light to hold onto. There were times that the darkness was a twilight, where I fought to find the light without realizing I was letting it fade slowly and on purpose, despite insistent screaming for it to come back. Around this time last year I ran around telling everyone who would listen that I could see the light, I found it, I took it, it’s mine; but it was a flashlight, artificial, I thought I was taking charge of it but I was anxious for the day that the battery would run out. This is what I’m used to in my life, reacting to situations by falling into the darkness accidentally on purpose, and working hard but not at all to pull myself out. And now something happened this week, which was similar to something that happened last month, which was similar to something that happened last year, and I spent all yesterday waiting to enter the slow descent into the dark tunnel, the kind where you don’t realize how deep you’re in until no one can see you to guide you back out.

Sometimes it feels like I make a lot of mistakes, all in the name of growth. The paths I’ve chosen for myself, living in NYC, working in the field that I do, the terrible decisions that I make fueled by vodka and an instinct for self-destruction, are difficult paths to walk. Yesterday I acknowledged that the darkness that has tortured and comforted me since my teens wanted to take over, wanted to let me wallow in What Ifs and Why Mes. Instead, though, this time I acknowledged that it was there, and I stared back at it. I let it scream, and call for me, and I didn’t answer; I continued on with my day, letting that voice fade into the background by the time I made it to my mat at the end of the night. What would normally put me into a tunnel of depression instead made me feel stronger, and guiding my practice with my favorite mantra of I will do well contributed to my waking up this morning with a smile on my face, knowing the past can’t change, so all we can do is move forward.

There are paths that we’re given and paths that we choose, and each of them converge into a wild ride of life. Maybe the paths that I’ve chosen are the difficult ones, or maybe the ones I’ve been given are driving me to something more. Whether it’s divinely decreed or written in the stars or whatever else you believe in, I think that the quote above makes sense for everyone. Instead of crying that our paths are harder than everyone else’s, or wallowing in the belief that things will always be exactly as they are right now, we should all make a point to remember that there’s a light somewhere in every tunnel. Let the mistakes that can tear us down instead fuel us further, higher, better, more. Remember that we all have a higher purpose than stewing in the misery of a moment, and we’re all capable of watching the tunnel from afar instead of charging into it like it has the answers. The quote at the beginning of this post inspired me to make sure that I’m carving my path, and letting the rocky mistakes along the way call me to the best version of myself.