"You are quite perfect, Miss Fairfax!"
"I hope I'm not that. It would leave no room for developments, and I intend to develop in many directions!"
~ The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde
Last night I had a dream in which I was looking at myself in front of a giant mirror and for some reason felt compelled to shatter it to pieces. It was very vivid, but I wasn't sure what it meant until now. I feel inspired to write this after a wonderful talk with a kindred spirit. I am thankful for those people with whom talking comes easily and giggles mix with struggles and aspirations and all the stuff in between. I think this is what life is really about.
But I digress. We were talking about Facebook. The exuberant celebrations of life (AMAZING this and AMAZING that), thinly veiled personal promotions and ego blasts, and filtered pictures are wonderful a lot of the time. (And I'm guilty of all of the above, don't get me wrong.) I love to see my friends doing well and being happy. I truly mean that. I have many darker tendencies, but begrudging others' happiness is not one. (I tend to turn the aggression inward.)
But here's the thing: There's a shadow side. The part of me that trolls Facebook longer than is healthy. The part of me that assumes that all those shiny happy people are so much shinier, more together, more alive, more successful, more beautiful, just... better than I am. The part that compares and feels bad for where I am ... and sometimes even WHO I am. Do you ever feel this way?
Yoga asks us to tell the truth. We call this "satya" in Sanskrit. The ultimate goal of the yoga practice is to see reality clearly. That's also where we start, ironically. We start simple. See what you're bringing with you to practice. See how your breath moves. See how judgement comes up in this pose or that meditation. And so forth. Just take a look. Maybe just a peek at first. Stay with it for as long as you can and then try again tomorrow.
I realized a few weeks ago that I do a disservice to my friends and my students when I filter reality, whether it is on Instagram or with my words. Yes, my life is beautiful and I have been given so much. It's also hard and messy and frustrating. And if I present only one part, if I push away the messiness, I'm not doing my job. I'm not teaching yoga because I can't teach what I don't practice. Not that you need to know every gory detail of my personal life, that's not what I mean. But there must be someplace in between a photo finish and a confessional...right?
So I'm going to rebel a little. And I'm going to post my rebellion on Facebook. If you feel comfortable, maybe you can join me. Here are five of the messy bits. This is not a confessional. This is just filling in the gaps a little.
(1) I hurt my shoulder because I pushed in a yoga class. I forced in class because I felt I wasn't good enough.
(2) My first fight with my beloved husband was over Lindsay Lohan's performance in Mean Girls. I absolutely kid you not. We yelled at each other. It was serious...like unfunny at the time. Over Lindsay Lohan. That is not necessarily our most ridiculous fight. One of my shadow parts is a bad temper, so, let's be honest, I probably started it. Yoga has helped me work with it, but I'm still on the spicy side, and, if I'm not really conscious and mindful, I'm often unreasonable.
(3) I do try to live healthfully and naturally, but I do the following taboo things: (a) use normal deodorant... not crystals or salts or tea tree oil or unicorn dust...otherwise I stink; (b) use too many paper towels; (c) eat Fannie May candies (a tradition started with my grandma and continued to this day... and, no, I cannot pronounce any of the ingredients).
(4) I struggle with anxiety every day of my life. It has gotten more manageable with yoga and therapy. It was disabling before these wonderful tools entered into my life. I've learned from it too---it is one of my many gurus. But it is still there and it hurts a lot sometimes.
(5) I love power ballads. Not ironically. Just straight up love power ballads. Air Supply, Celine Dion, Heart. I'm ashamed of this, and so I go into "secret" mode on Spotify and rock it out. Yes, that's right. I actually filter my Spotify to hide my dirty little secret. How silly.
Laugh at me, think of your own. However you do it, be real, acknowledge the shadow side. It's a part of you, too! Be you. I think it's worth it, even the messy bits. You are braver and more beautiful than you know.