Monday, June 3, 2013

I do believe you can be whatever you want to be. As long as that thing is you.

I think we spend a lot of time suffering in pursuit of some ideal, of trying to become an image or an idea of another person we have seen. No matter how hard I work, I am not going to become my friend Ann, and I shouldn't want to. First, "Is not possible." because she is she and I am me. 

We have different... everything. To want to become who Ann is puts me in complete denial of all that I am, and can be. I am not going to have waist length curly brown hair, amber eyes, an eight pack and nearly black skin. Because I have shoulder length blonde hair, nice broad shoulders, a two pack and lighter skin. 
Beautiful. For so many reasons. This is the picture in question.
WHY am I going on and on about Ann (not her real name)? Because I was on Facebook the other day (imagine that), and my friend Ann, an accomplished and amazing yoga instructor, had posted a beautiful photo. Now; she is a truly beautiful woman, she is in the bloom of love, and she is making choices that help her live the life she loves. All of these things help to make her spirit and her soul shine through in a way that shows as a very bright light.

Many people are inspired by her beauty, how down to earth she is, how real, authentic, loving and giving she is, and how hard she works. She is a truly talented instructor, and a great, giving friend. She has a tight circle of like minded, like bodied girlfriends who love life together. 

After Ann posted this photo, many people commented on how beautiful she looked, how happy, how amazing. One person posted that she thought for years that if she worked hard enough, she would have a body like Ann's. And then this photo went up, and it showed this person that no matter how hard she worked, she would never ever attain the transcendental beauty and health that Ann possessed. This person was attempting to compliment Ann by holding her beauty as a ridiculous unobtainable ideal. In the process, she shattered her concept of her own self worth, beauty and potential, maybe without even realizing it. 

This is the trap of comparison. And we are all guilty of it sometimes. It diminishes our ability to feel joy, to be ourselves, to live in gratitude, to have a real and connected relationship with anyone. This kind of thinking leads to retail therapy and plastic surgery, trying to become something that you are not, by virtue of costume or sculpture. 

This might be more what your body looks like. This is a strong posture from the Ashtanga series. Beautiful. 
And be careful here, as well. By saying "becoming something that you are not" does not mean that you are LESS than the person you are looking at or wishing you were like. "Becoming something that you are not" means literally trying to make yourself into something other than YOU rather than shaping yourself into the MOST, BEST you that you can become by honoring your body, your face, your personality, your potential. 

You can develop your talents, and learn new skills, and be inspired down a path that you never knew was open to you (see previous post... Don't become a yoga instructor, everyone is doing that). But to do it in hopes of becoming someone else, and perhaps having their life rather than your own... happiness does not lie in this direction. This is a surefire shortcut to the sadness sickness.

Hair and breast implants, butt lifts, and the best yoga outfit in the studio are not going to change your internal life, who you are and the lessons you need to learn in order to grow. You are carrying your shit around with you no matter how thin, tan, and resurfaced you become. You are you. And how you look on the outside is heavily influenced by how much grace and compassion you have on the inside. Its true. I know you've heard it a million times. But it is true. When you let go of needing to be seen a certain way, the beautiful you begins to be nurtured, and THAT light is as bright as anyones.

You live with your own set of unique lessons that need to be learned. You can live in denial of those lessons by turning your judgement on others, chasing the idea of being someone other than you are, and changing your body by force. 

Or you can surrender into your skin, find a little grace and compassion for your beautiful potential, not only as an athlete, artist or spiri, but as a person. As a friend. As a heart. As someone to connect to, as someone worth knowing.
I feel this way in my body. It doesn't look a lot like this. But it gets healthier all the time, and I am so grateful for that. 

It took me a few years to wrap my head around loving who I am without that meaning that I am complacent. I can see my body as my own now, without overlaying the picture of someone else who seems to have a "better" body. I can see other people's health, and see myself, and know that I can become a healthier me. And strive for that. And be grateful for that.

Yoga tends to attract bodies that are easily suited to it, its fun to do something your body is already good at, already designed to do. My body is heavier, thicker than many yoga bodies. I have short arms and a long torso. I will never be able to jump through my hands because my palms don't touch the floor when I sit up straight. 

THIS IS NOT A TRAGEDY!! As Prem would say, "Is not possible." It doesn't matter. So, I do this little scooty thing where I drag my feet through my hands. Rhada has to do the same thing. Long torso, short arms, incredibly beautiful woman. Will I ever look like my teacher in Aspen, Sharon Capplain? Well, she is a good foot shorter than I am, with a vata body, thin, reedlike, floaty. If I tried to look like her, I would be in such fierce denial of me that I would kill my own light. Extinguish it by trying to become thinner than my body's natural constitution wants me to be.

Speaking of lights that shine bright, This is Sharon. 
Can I make my body healthier? Yes. I can. I can be inspired by Ann's deep practice and the resulting amazing body that she gets to play in all day. It does not discourage me to see how her body continues to develop into a stronger, leaner, more flexible, more grounded, more open vessel. She was not perfect before she took this photo, and she has not come closer to perfection with this photo. She was healthy before and is becoming more herself in many ways that require a lot more work than just eating salad and going to class.

When I saw this photo of Ann, I thought, wow. Look at her becoming even more who she is. She is really tapping into herself, loving herself, growing and becoming. I wonder who I will be if I continue to do that as well? 

And I was saddened by the statement that was posted, although I understand where it comes from. Because when we are motivated from a place of yearning or desire, our ability to work toward a goal is tainted from the start. It isn't truly from or for our own integrity. It is to win, to be like someone else, to be other that we are, to by "better" so we can be "happier". 

I also think that seeing this kind of post can, if she lets it, diminish Ann's happiness. This is the selfish and cruel part of this person posting a comment like this. The poster is punishing Ann to some extent for being brave enough to work hard emotionally, spiritually and physically on herself. This is unhealthy, selfish behavior.

Ann could take on this imposition, feeling guilty for the bounty she has created in her own life. I doubt she will, but it happens. Many people who have this kind of toxic "why can't I have it too" energy try to bring other people who are blissful down, so that their lives are more attainable.

The problem is that you can not co-opt someone else's happiness. No matter how hard she tries, the poster of this jealous comment won't be Ann. And there is no doubt that she is suffering for it. Until she learns that she CAN let go of wishing, and become the most excellent version of herself. The most excellent version of herself today, and tomorrow and the next day. She can look for ways that she can grow and shine and become healthier from wherever she is, whether that's 100 pounds over weight or very injured, or just a little sad and unsure of who she are or what her worth is, or whatever obstacle she is facing. 

Look in the mirror and find the spark of you. You are beautiful. You can become whatever you want to be. As long as that thing is an expression that really truly honors who YOU are. 

1 comment:

Hil said...

Nice shots. That is one way to stay flexible when not on the white powder