“We are here to witness the creation and to abet it. We are here to notice each thing so each thing gets noticed. Together we notice not only each mountain shadow and each stone on the beach but, especially, we notice the beautiful faces and complex natures of each other.… Otherwise, creation would be playing to an empty house."― Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and your transformation
It has been a while.
And as I sit here and begin to type, I am still not entirely sure I have anything to say. This is where I should probably tell you about how busy I have been, and about all the challenges I have been facing, and supply you with a list of reasons or excuses for not being present. It's not that all of those things are not real, or relevant. Much has indeed been happening. Busy-ness, or at least the illusion of it that we like to subscribe to, has most definitely been experienced.
It isn't even that I haven't been present. It is just that I haven't been present in the digital spaces where you may have been used to encountering me. Presence has many qualities, and part of my experience over the past few months has been about encountering myself - and presence - in other spaces, other contexts. I have been just being, and practising being with just being. Sometimes that looks a lot like sleeping. Certainly a lot of sleeping has occurred. Tiredness is one of the things I have been experiencing. A lot of tiredness. Physical tiredness, and deep, gut-deep sigh inducing exhaustion with - well - everything.
Surely being, presence, doesn't have to be this hard? Like grinding exhaustion hard? It doesn't. We mistake visibility for presence. At what point did I (and I suspect many of you) accept the constant, grinding, exhausting necessity of constant visibility and self-promotion as OK? Oh - I know it's NORMAL. But that is not the same thing as OK. There are a lot of cultural norms that could do with a review. Neither am I talking about the equally commodified phenomenon of Self-Care. The best self-care I have discovered is simply allowing myself to NOT do half the things I was doing. I don't need to give anybody any more money to give me permission to stop abusing myself.
Just over a year ago I divorced yoga. What I was touching on then, and what I have encountered deeply in the past year is the internally absorbed feeling of urgency that I needed to somehow find a way to market, promote or sell myself: my life; my practice. And to put a price on almost everything that gives me joy, connection, pleasure, spiritual sustenance, peace...
I didn't absorb it out of nowhere. There is a whole apocalyptic beast of an industry manufacturing the conditions that I became so deeply enmeshed in. (Matthew Remski writes skillfully about some of the cultural aspects of this, and the phenomenon of the "aspirational self" in this article and others )
What occurred, during and after the divorce, was akin to a detox. A violent purge of all sorts of habits and influences and even people that resulted in a lifestyle as close to hermeticism as I could probably manage given that I am in a committed relationship and still choose to go out of the house to earn money.
Some of the things I committed to in that slightly over dramatic blog post (but still my most read and lauded!) have actually happened! I am surprised. Goal setting was never a strength. I am deep in study for ordained Interfaith ministry. Certainly, the richness of my personal encounters and realisations can be attributed to the ongoing depth and challenge of that work. But encountering the depths has made me resistant to the shallows. And allergic to anything (and anyone) that has even a sniff of abuse, cultishness, charlatanry, self aggrandisement, lies or hollow promises.
Which is quite a lot of stuff. I will never be an "influencer" (the idea makes me be sick in my mouth)
I do not exclude myself from this critique by the way. Part of my brutal self-examination has been about my relationship with the yoga and wellness industry. There is a lot to unpack. I have no stomach for it (the industry) now. But the yoga industry is not Yoga. Last month -the anniversary of my divorce - I retreated to an Ashram and spent some time in deep reconnection with my practice. Many years ago, in an Ashram of the same lineage, I touched the depth of what a yoga practice can (should) be. It was a simple yet potent reminder of why I started practising in the first place. It is in that spirit that I have been gently exploring ways to continue to offer what I teach that feels palatable, doable, healthy and in support of my values: sustainability, inclusion, community, honesty, kindness. Love. And absolutely no bullshit.
I recognise I come with a tall order and very little ability to compromise. For that reason, I find spaces like Facebook have become almost intolerable. I wander in sometimes and seek out the uplifting stuff, but if I post anything of my own I usually come out feeling assaulted. Some compromise is good, but when we begin to compromise our basic values, we are contributing to abuse of self and of others. Not OK.
I will end with a free gift for you. Stop abusing yourself. Do less. Rest more. Stay off of Facebook. Please do not pay anybody to tell you that. It is worth only the amount of love that motivates me to say it.
Love ( and I mean it!)