Embracing Contradiction, and Contraindications

No one lives his life.

we come of age as masks.
Our true face never speaks.

Somewhere there must be storehouses
where all these lives are laid away…

Maybe all paths lead there,
to the repository of unlived things.

– Rilke

As I cautiously waded through practice, it became obvious that I was hurt. I work hard in class to check my impulses as I walk the tightrope of patience v. ego- the line between pushing oneself and pushing oneself too far is as fine as a single thread of hair. Yet after regaling my readers about last week’s successes, karma immediately hip checked me to the “pushed too far” side. Humility, people. Humility.  

While I was absolutely bummed that I would have to scale back my practice and/or take time off, and certainly a bit nervous that there would be lasting damage, overall I had a feeling I would be ok and that my body was just telling me to chill out. Our philosophy teacher used a beautiful anecdote to explain the importance of meditation in avoiding injury: “Meditation is important because it teaches us to quiet down and listen to our body. If we hear our body when it whispers, then it won’t have to scream.” As previously noted, I’m a bit dense, and didn’t apply that to myself until just now. But it’s beautifully said, and so true. My body screamed, and I was forced to listen.

I also used this opportunity to see an Ayurvedic doctor, a big Indian bucket list item for me. I walked into Dr. Arora’s office and sat down in a chair next to him. Dr. Arora is probably in his mid 70’s and has an incredibly deep, booming, yet gentle voice. To help you paint a picture, Google the doctor from the Simpsons, because it’s the exact same voice. He asked my age, height, and weight, then checked my pulse on both wrists individually, and then simultaneously. From this he noted that my dosha is kapha and overall I am in excellent health. There was also a beautiful case of Cross-Cultural Missing (trademarked by Partners in Life and Business) when he told me that kaphas are lazy. High school Brandon- lazy AF. Post-high school selling men’s shoes at Nordstrom’s Brandon- preeeeetty lazy. But now?? Come on! As humbly as I could, I immediately protested this factually incorrect label, causing him to bellow in laughter and explain that lazy means relaxed, laid back, “chill” for my California readers. Finally, a label we could agree on. So we chatted for a few more minutes and he came to the part about me being overly emotional and not practical enough…  

If you had the unfortunate experience last week of reading my Dear Diary, Love, Oversharer post, you can understand how confusing this information was to receive. Am I overly emotional, am I not emotional enough, what the hell is going on WHO AM I??? Upon lots of reflection, I came to the logical conclusion that I am a contradiction. That we are all contradictions. That at any given moment, none of us have the slightest clue what the hell is going on, and there is a profound beauty and peace of mind to be found in accepting this as truth. I believe that the sooner we recognize this, the sooner we will cease letting fear rule our lives- especially the fear of people who don’t look like us that is so tragically prevalent these days.

Back to your regularly scheduled program…

I’ve now taught four classes, and I’m truly enjoying it. When I signed up for teacher training, I wasn’t sure where teaching yoga would fit into my life. I knew that it would be an incredible experience, expanding every aspect of my practice, but I didn’t know if I wanted to teach. Now I’m sure I do. To guide people in creatively expressing themselves within the limits of an ancient practice is difficult to describe. All I can say is that it feels natural.  

I graduated Sunday morning, and on Wednesday I’ll be taking a 15 hour bus ride from Rishikesh to Dharamsala, the headquarters of the exiled Tibetan government. I’m going to rest my body and focus on my meditation practice.  It’s an excellent opportunity to process and reflect on the last few years, which were an absolute whirlwind.  I’m also considering a 10-day silent meditation retreat (which sounds insane and possibly creepy/cultish, but will force my brain to quiet down and also be an excellent story). Either way, my path appears to be heading towards the repository of unlived things, where I will explore my depths, shed my masks, and seek my true face.  

*Update- this rich Indian guy I met on the flight just called me and offered to fly me to Delhi to party with him for his birthday. “Fuck meditation man, let’s drink whiskey!” I’m totally into seeking my true face, but it’s nice to have options…


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