Drinking, Shame And Not Beating Yourself Up

Since my Forrest Yoga Foundations Teacher Training I have been sober. My clean date is June 1. Like this writer, I came to the realization that I had no “off switch,” that once I began drinking, even if it was “innocently” out with friends at dinner or at an art gallery opening or a day at the beach, the only thing that would stop me from drinking was passing out, throwing up, or running out of money.

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Why Is It So Hard To Ask For What We Need? The Empowerment Triangle

A friend of mine posted this to her Facebook wall today: “What you resist persists. Gotta feel it to heal it. Avoiding life does not lead to transformation or enlightenment.”

Let’s break this down. “Feel it to heal it” aka “the only way out is through.” Sometimes “feeling it” means going thru a period of shadow willingly and without resistance. Our emotions don’t come with a time-table; sometimes we get activated by processes or life circumstances and we’re IN IT. The right time is now. The other day at lunch with some friends I started crying. My friend said “feel that.” As soon as she said it I knew what she meant. Don’t push it down. Get what that feeling is. FEEL THAT! I’ve learned that if we push down or deny or reason away our emotions, we’re going to end up numb and disempowered.

Avoiding life…just because we are active in our work and social lives and personal life doesn’t mean we are present. Non-avoidance means acknowledging what comes up and grappling with it, not shrinking away, having courage to admit “this is here” and then taking the next most healing step.

This dovetails into “what you resist persists.” When we know we have something to deal with and we don’t, it’s just going to sit there like mold growing on one strawberry in the box; eventually, the whole box is contaminated. What we don’t address gains momentum and strength, like opportunistic bacteria that thrive the danker and more toxic their environment gets.

For whatever reason, I was born in this life with a drive towards liberation and freedom, my own and others who are suffering (which is, everyone). All my samskaras (past and present life karma) are here to teach me. I have trained myself to view challenges, injuries, and “shit that happens to us” as teachers. I was not always this way. Peace is a long road. We all come to the path with different strengths and weaknesses. And we are all walking it together.

To couch this post in a constructive light, I’d like to make a request of anyone reading this: TODAY, please FEEL your feelings around something that triggers you. Do NOT avoid it. Then, write your comment here, what you felt, what you did not resist, and how you did not avoid life.

Here is mine, for today: I need to start ASKING for what I want and need in a clear and precise manner instead of assuming people will understand what I want/need and give it to me. This is especially true in intimate partnerships and work situations. This also applies to creative situations, where I am working with others. My programming around asking is that I will either not get what I ask for or I will get something less than what I asked for, or a replacement. For example, as a kid, I wanted to play the drums and wanted a drum set. My father said NO!, then a few weeks later brought me a small hand drum. I remember feeling as a young child that I was expected to be ok with this hand drum, but it was not the drum set with drumsticks that I yearned to bang on. I did not ever end up playing the drums. In relationship, when I have asked a partner for something I needed, like assistance when I had an injury, the expectation I had was not met. I was helped in the most rudimentary (and reluctant) of ways, and I felt burdensome and ashamed, especially because he lacked compassion for the condition I was in (needless to say the relationship ended). This is just an example of how I learned that asking did not mean receiving.

To heal this, I have to move out of “victim” mode by identifying how I feel. How I feel when I am confronted with need is afraid, vulnerable, unsteady, knocked off balance, shy, and anxious. How I will avoid avoidance (hah!) is by identifying when I need to ASK for something to have my needs met and finding the courage to ASK with clarity and precision. If my initial ask is not acceptable, I will NEGOTIATE until a solution can be reached.

This process was inspired by my friend Alex’s “empowerment triangle” he mentioned at dinner tonight. The image of it is above.

Beauty Report: The return of my personal yoga practice

Since completing the Forrest Yoga Foundations Teacher Training, I am so grateful that my personal yoga practice has returned. My strongest intention going into the training was to get my personal practice back on track. While I received far more than this, one of the greatest gifts has been to get back on my mat every day, now for 33 days in a row.

It’s oddly common to hear yoga teachers talking about the loss of their personal practice when they begin teaching professionally. It really doesn’t make much sense: how can you teach something you no longer practice, no matter how many years or decades you did it before? Lack of logic aside, I couldn’t seem to motivate myself to get on the mat. The excuses were legion: I don’t have time (of course I do!) I’m not in the mood (ew!); my apartment isn’t really set up for it (ok, but there’s alternatives and creative solutions to this); I am tired (yoga will help get you untired); and on and on it went. Somehow, I equated the little bit of mat time I got through my various teaching gigs to count as practice. It’s not!

Our personal yoga practice is so much more than simply doing poses. What I’m finding out is that personal practice, especially daily personal practice, is a commitment to myself and a deep care-taking of my self that gets stronger each day I return to my mat. This has been the secret gift of getting back on the mat everyday: that the more days that go by continuously, the less likely I am to let a day slide, the more I actually tremble at the idea of a day going by.

I am healing from a lot of self-abuse. I need to practice regularly. I need to keep the well of my own sense of trust, appreciation, and love for myself topped up. Daily practice is, so far, the best way to do this I have experienced. I am so grateful to Ana Forrest and her amazing assistants for helping me get into the habit of daily yoga practice. This is one habit I definitely don’t want to break.

Here’s a photo of me practicing in my mom’s apartment’s gym space. To me, meeting myself on my mat daily, and letting it be discovered what comes up (am I focused; am I rushing; am I adhering to my intent; am I using my neck in the poses?!; etc) is one of the most beautiful things I can imagine. This is my therapy, my salvation, my healing, my gift to myself.