Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Value of Vulnerability, Reprised

I have been making a conscious effort in my day to day life and with my clients to be more vulnerable. It has been working out for me. I am attracting the types of people into my life that I want to attract into it.

Example the first: I was having dinner with a group of folks from my yoga teacher training. The dinner was going as they tend to do. There was much talking and carrying on. A good time was being had by all. People were finishing up their meals, plates were being cleared. The conversation veered toward eating habits. Specifically my eating habits (for those who don't know, I eat Paleo style). The question arose as to why I decided to make this choice. My first instinct, as it has been for a while, was to look down at my hands and sort of curl into a ball and hide because I was (and maybe still am) ashamed of the fact that the reason I choose to eat Paleo is because I want eight-pack abs. I did, however, express that I was doing it for the eight-pack. One of the more perceptive ladies in the group immediately called me on my shame (thanks, by the way). She made me laugh because she just said, "Oh, look how ashamed he is of that." And I couldn't argue so I just agreed. And laughed at myself for being vain and shallow.

Example the second: I was at my new clients' house for the first time. One of them asked me what started me on my journey towards wellness. Again, my first reaction was to curl into a little ball. Then I heard my teacher's (you know who you are) voice in my head saying, "Be more vulnerable." And so I told the story about how I was really overweight, had heartburn everyday, was drinking....a lot, and I had gotten to a point where I vomited blood. Twice. So I started learning and teaching myself about what was good to eat and what wasn't. I started to practice yoga. I went to Toronto and took my Holistic Lifestyle Coaching class with a world class teacher who I am now proud to count on my list of friends. I told them about how I started feeling my body and getting in touch with myself. I talked about how, for the first time in my adult life, I knew I was walking down a path that suited me. I told them about my yoga teacher training and how transformational that was and continues to be. Through all of this I was finding my own power in my own vulnerability.

Example the third: I asked a woman out today (granted, it was via facebook, so please, go ahead and judge me as harshly as I am judging myself for being too cowardly to do it in person). She said "no". I knew she would before I asked. I did it anyway. I don't know what her reasoning behind that rejection is. It could be because we have a teacher (her)/student (me) relationship. It could be that she doesn't find me attractive. It is probably much more complicated than that simplistic coin flip. But whatever the reasoning behind it, I am very comfortable in my own ignorance of it. Looking deeper into this, I think that I acted for myself in this situation. I didn't act out of some macho desire to conquer. I didn't act out of some insecure need for validation from an astonishing human, being. I acted out of a genuine desire to get to know her better. I acted out of desire to connect with another person on a deeper, much more vulnerable level. I am actually really proud of myself right now. And I would like to express my gratitude to her (you also know who you are, different from the above if you don't know who she is) for allowing me the space to ask an honest, vulnerable, heart-felt question and for giving me a clear-cut response. So thank you!

And thank you to all of you that read this!

Peace and Love,

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Fine Line Between Meditation and Hallucination

Fair Warning: It's about to get weird in here. You were warned.

I went to a gong bath on Sunday evening. If you've never been, go. If you have been, the one at Elmhurst Yoga Shala on the first Sunday of every month is amazing.

Sarah and Stephanie are amazing humans, being. You will want to hug them immediately upon meeting them. I love them both dearly and I barely know them. In addition to being wonderful people, they have absolutely angelic voices. You read that right. They open with some chanting (I told you it was going to get weird) in Sanskrit while playing instruments with which I am completely unfamiliar. Regardless of my ignorance, this is a beautiful, peaceful, calming experience. Then they start to play the gong. There is an Earth Gong tuned to the sound of Aum (for those unfamiliar, Aum is said to be the sound of the universe). They beat (I'm not sure what the correct word is) the gong in myriad ways to produce different sounds from it. Sometimes it is just a gentle little graze with a mallet(?). Other times, it roars to a cacophonous volume. It never hurts your ears, though. Which is back to the weird theme that I established earlier.

This was one of the most intense meditation sessions I have ever had. It lasted for ninety minutes, but felt like ten. I'm serious. I couldn't believe that it was over when things started to wind down. Maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part, but I literally thought, "Intermission?!"

Now, because I am completely self-absorbed, let's talk about me! More fair warning: It is about to get weirder. Those of you who know me know that I enjoy the occasional use of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Strictly as an aid to my meditation practice, of course. At any rate, the gong bath put me into a state of meditation that I have never been in, outside of said fungal alteration. It was wild! So when I "woke up" afterward, I felt like I was coming down from a trip. When I was walking around, I was seeing auras, like I do while tripping. I floated off into a state between wakefulness and dream, like I do while tripping and (if I'm lucky) meditating. I experienced a state of immense clarity (I have no idea about what, though). It was a super powerful experience that I plan to have regularly.

This post would be incomplete without a GIGANTIC "thank you" sent out to the Sisters Starnes. You two are awesome. Thanks for doing what you do. Also, thanks to the universe for bringing these two into my life.

The only question I am left with is this: Do I mix the mushrooms with the gong? Only time will tell.

Peace and Love,