The Art of Impartiality

I first learned about the topic of impartiality or equanimity in a book called The Words of My Perfect Teacher. In it, Patrul Rinpoche describes it as “giving up our hatred for enemies and infatuation with friends, and having an even-minded attitude toward all beings, free of attachment to those close to us and aversion to those who are distant.” I started writing this post a couple of nights ago, taking hours to go over each and every detail about someone that I had placed on a pedestal for years. After I was done, it was clear that the lengthy post was little more than me venting about how I had let this person’s dominating energy affect me. I was *not* displaying the art of impartiality, which was a lesson all in itself—BEING IMPARTIAL IS HARD! It will always be a practice, just like yoga.

So I’m going to broaden the topic and discuss how we compare ourselves to others. Let’s jump right in.

ALL OF YOU will know what I’m talking about when I say this and if you deny it, I call “bullshit.” When we see someone who we think is more attractive than us, we have at one point, or still do, feel a sense of inferiority. We analyze, obsess and in some cases we allow our self-worth to become diminished, we somehow see them as “better”. Key phrase here, “we allow”.

When we are around someone who exudes confidence, it’s common to compromise ourselves; speaking or acting in a way we think would be pleasing to that person (take me back to my high school days with the popular kids!).

If we see someone who acts in a way that we may see as horrible or disgusting, we look down at that person. Maybe we pity them, or call them bad names that describe them as a whole.

Whatever the case, none of these are beneficial for cultivating love, compassion and understanding in our world. The majority of people will not have the option of having this kind of conversation in their lives and they will go until the end of their days comparing and judging. Stop and think a moment, do you realize how much energy it takes to compare ourselves to other people? Consciously or not. It takes a lot of fucking energy thinking, “Oh if I could just be like that person” or “So and so is such a bitch”. It perpetuates the cycle of negative energy, kind of like criminals having kids who fall into the same spheres of activity. Fortunately, I was led to the path of mindfulness and meditation and it’s INSANE how quickly you begin to observe yourself engaging in the absurdities of the mind. It’s helped me build confidence and has allowed me to observe the above conversations when they come up, not judge myself for them (this is key or we dwell on feeling guilty) and move on so I can pay better attention to…that checked out guy driving toward me who’s looking down and texting, the blooming Bougainvilleas coming up on my right, Bassnectar’s most recent remix–WHATEVER! So I can pay more attention to life.

Next time you see your self worth go out the window because of someone you consider to be better-looking, try appreciating it. “Good for them!” Maybe compliment them. It’s feels really good to break perpetual bad habits. Maybe they’ve got bigger triceps, but YOU play the ukulele and that’s rad. Being around really confident people used to be hard for me. The person I mentioned before who I had placed on a pedestal is extremely confident. AND beautiful. I would often find myself saying whatever I thought they wanted to hear so that they would approve of me. I realize now that it stunted my growth. This person eventually began to feel dominating to me– because I had allowed them to. I had no clue about equanimity or impartiality.  I wish I would have had the “good for them” conversation in my head and had acted more authentically. Oh well, better late than never, right?

Finally, to address people in our everyday lives that we look down upon as less deserving of attention, love or life, please try and see that you will never know their story. We aren’t capable of knowing what drives people to act they way they do. We can’t say, “He’s a selfish asshole” and just assume that they chose to be that way because they suck. People often speak and act in an awful manner as a result of having something negative occur to them. They are perpetuating the cycle of negative energy. I hope that through this conversation, you can see that YOU can stop the cycle right there. Practice compassion, “it’s unfortunate that they feel that they need to act that way”. They’re the ones stuck feeling like that’s their only option. You can practice being impartial by staying present and knowing that ball is in your court. Do you want to be a reactor? Or an observer? Being the observer of your crazy thoughts is the path to happiness.and freedom You are behind the wheel. Impartiality is one of the best ways that we can practice compassion, for others and ourselves. He/she who challenges your ability to remain impartial is struggling with fear, insecurity and criticism, just like you. The struggle is real!

“To cultivate equanimity, we practice catching ourselves feeling attraction and aversion, before it hardens into grasping or negativity.” -Pema Chodron

Poise

A Lesson in Patience

We picked up our bengal kitten yesterday. His name is Bodhi. The last day has been such a wonderful reminder and lesson in patience. To take time with the unknown and let things unfold naturally. What if we practiced this more in our relationships, intentions and YOGA? What if instead of forcing things to happen or trying to make things fit, we let the natural flow of life move without a need to control it?

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Why I Quit Drinking

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Last week I went back home to Colorado to see my friends and family. A couple of days in, I went to my favorite brunch joint with my favorite people. My favorite server came to the table and clapped his hands together, “Mimosas all around?” He knew me so well. “Actually,” I said, “… I don’t drink anymore…” That’s when I found myself surrounded by a table of wide eyes and dropped jaws. “Yeah… I quit a couple months ago.” My only non-drinking friend, Stephanie, reached across the table and high-fived me. I finally got where she was coming from. When we met a couple of years ago and she told me that she didn’t drink, I specifically remember thinking to myself that there was absolutely no way that we’d ever work out. I mean, what would we do together? Luckily our love for loud bass music and working out kept our emotionally in-touch souls connected.

So now, to answer the question: why did I quit drinking? Well, after many, MANY fun years of indulging in it with my friends and all by myself (I drank alone more often than I’d like to admit), it all of a sudden became *not* fun. Really, it hit me like a ton of yoga blocks. Drinking now makes me depressed. I know some of you are thinking, “Duh, it’s a depressant.” but I’m talking SEVERELY depressed. Not just a little weepy, but complete meltdown, I-don’t-want-to-live-anymore depressed. On top of this, I started to become my most insecure, passive-aggressive self. I was turning into the WORST version of myself that I had ever known and after so many years of consciously working on myself.

But how could this be? I’m a yoga instructor for God’s sake, I’ve got my head on straight and my shit together! Then I thought back throughout the years of all of the consequences that I’ve suffered from drinking. I’ve started fights, called people names, said and did things that I couldn’t take back…were they *really* fun times? In actuality, I’d been a lazy, unmotivated yoga instructor who, while being broke, was spending her small amount of money going out for mimosas every other day and no longer engaging in being a student. I was so depressed from drinking that I didn’t even want to go to yoga, the one thing that has proven time and time again to bring me back to center. And I didn’t want to quit or cut down on drinking because then I would have to feel… DUN DUN DUN… normal. I would have to feel sober and being sober was boring and I, like the majority of people in the country, had a fear of being bored. What happens when we’re bored? We have to look at our stuff. We’re left with our thoughts and I didn’t know how to manage them. I didn’t know how to not get carried away with chatter in my mind. My mind was fried, my body felt sick, my skin looked terrible and my hair was always greasy. My pores were dirty and clogged, I was having digestive problems, I always had a cold or was feeling ill. All of this for my psychological addiction to feeling anything but normal.

So this persisted into my move to the Bay Area. A couple of months ago, I had a friend come visit. We were drinking buddies. We drank the whole time she was here, but the more we drank, the more of myself I saw in her. She too was, I’m guessing unconsciously, behaving in an insecure and passive-aggressive manner that was actually turning me off. She was turning me off. I couldn’t believe that I was looking at my friend that way. I thought to myself, “Wow, I hope that I don’t give people those kind of bad vibes when I’m drinking.” That was a turning point for me. That’s when I started to think about how I was coming off to other people when I drank.

A few days after, I was talking to my boyfriend about how I could hardly drink very much anymore and I hated how I felt. THIS was the moment. THIS is what changed everything. He looked at me in a way that I had never seen, it was sad and attentive all at once. He said to me, “I don’t like it when you drink.” After a year of putting up with my drinking, things had finally gotten to the point where MY behavior was turning him off. He saw me in the same light that I had seen my (once) friend. That’s right, after a night of drinking together and a small misunderstanding, she left my house without saying goodbye and we haven’t spoken since. Was it worth it? Was any of this life-changing damage worth it anymore??

So there you have it, folks: Why I Quit Drinking. It was the best, most grown-up decision I’ve ever made. The sight of it now makes me cringe. All of the physical ailments that I was dealing with have since disappeared. I feel better than I’ve ever felt and my body shows it. So how about that boredom I was so afraid of? My amazing boyfriend has helped me start and maintain a steady meditation practice. I actually look forward to that time of the day when we can sit on our cushions and stare at the floor in silence for however long. It wasn’t easy to start, his support was crucial to my getting the hang of it. When I first began, the anxiety that I felt was so intense that I thought I would jump out of my body! But I sat with it. I didn’t explode, in fact I was rewarded with and finally understood the meaning of INNER PEACE. I couldn’t have done it without getting sober.

I’ll get into my meditation experiences more with this blog, but I wanted to share my story in hopes that it might inspire someone to make a positive change. If you don’t feel good in your life right now, it’s up to YOU and ONLY YOU to make changes. Big ones. You don’t get to drain those around with your complaining if you’re not taking charge of your life. It’s hard to break bad habits, but boy is it empowering. You are in control. Trust yourself.

Just Getting Started…

When I take stock of the last year of my life, even the last 6 months, I just have to shake my head and say, “Wow”. I guess you could say I’m in my “Saturn Return” phase– that area between 27-30 years old when a person experiences a wake up call and sobers up to their own foundation and mortality. I knew for a while that I wanted a change, I felt it in my bones and down into my cells, it was all that I could think about. Well, I got it.

In September of last year, I went to visit a friend who had moved from Colorado (where I lived and had spent my whole life) to the Bay Area. It was the moment that I saw the ocean, drove through the fog, experienced the rush of a “big city”, that I began aching (and in my own mind “dying”) to be in or by San Francisco.

–quick note, I realize that MANY people feel that way when they visit SF and my experience is very much shared–

Anyways, on September 21, 2013, we went to a Bassnectar show. As many of my friends and spin students know (I play him all the time in class and refer to him often), he is my favorite DJ and producer, a pure genius. This show was in San Jose and there is no reason that I would be in San Jose, but to see him. Long story short, I meet a guy, I lose the guy in the crowd and by sheer luck I run into him again. I’m not kidding when I say it was love at first sight. Actually, more like love at first feel. I needed to stand next to him. I needed his eye contact. I needed to feel his energy next to me. In that short time that we spoke, I had never felt more understood or connected to another person than I had in my whole entire life.

Back to this long story being short, we fall in love, engage in a long distance relationship for five months, I move to Oakland to be with him. Now we live together with our cat and we have a beautiful life together. Sounds great, yes? My transition has been hard. I’ve had many breakdowns. It’s been six months and I still feel like I’m settling in and dealing with culture shock. I don’t have many friends other than my co-workers and students that I see when I teach (which is actually totally satisfying) and if I can say one thing about the Bay Area, it’s that while it’s great and I really love it here…it’s unapologetic. I don’t have the comfort and security of knowing what’s what and it’s up to me and only me to figure it out. No matter what time it is, there’s a constant buzz in the air. It’s been a humbling adjustment to say the least. I truly feel like I know what it means to live in a fast-paced environment and it forces me to stay sharp.

Breaking into the teaching world here is hard. SF is the yoga capitol of the country, the pool of teachers that have been at it for 10, 15, 20+ years is HUGE. I’m a small fish, a minnow maybe, in a very big pond, no one knows who I am, or cares, and that’s where I’m at.

While I realize that my road is long, I know that I’m doing the right thing. People WILL know who I am, and not because I have some sort of agenda to become famous or have people follow me around and tell me how awesome I am. People will know who I am because I do what I do for my students. I’m capable of helping and changing lives and if my experience in Colorado has taught me anything, it’s that people are all very tender and vulnerable. I can create and hold the space for them to connect to that and own it.  I don’t mean for this to sound cocky, rather, I say this with confidence and self-realization. I’ve realized my gift and I own it. I get such a huge f*cking high connecting physically, emotionally and energetically to every person that shows up in my classes. Everything that I do is for you guys and I will be completely honest and raw about my experience.

SF