It has been a week since my birthday (that sort of sounds like the opening to confession, “it has been 7 days since my last day of birth…”), and last week our theme at Practice Indie was new beginnings. The intention behind new beginnings as a theme was:
a. I’m a raging narcissist and made the entire week about me 🙂
b. New beginnings of any type make most of us super introspective
c. The nature of the breath offers for consideration that EVERY moment is an opportunity to end and begin again.
I didn’t realize it until now that subconsciously I had ‘programmed’ last week’s theme based off of the two reasons that I dislike my birthday: self-loathing and fear of death…
REASON #1: Self Loathing
I have never really liked my birthday because of my discomfort with people celebrating and praising me (all kinds of samskara/ karma stuff around not being enough, blah blah white people problems blah). I was hoping that this birthday (THE BIG 30!!) would be different based off of my deep love of and very real circumstances in 13 Going on 30– THIRTY FLIRTY AND THRIVING, can I get an Amen? Apparently that only happens to Jennifer Gardner [insert sad song].
So as my beautiful friends rallied around me at my favorite restaurant of all time (India Garden on Delaware and Ohio– GO THERE) I kept thinking about how truly blessed I am to know such incredible humans. Simultaneously I kept thinking how unworthy I was to have them all in my life, and for them to celebrate me and then it dawned on me- I’m doing it again! I’m glaring in the hypothetical mirror and saying, “I’m not enough.”
“Lately I’ve ben glaring in the mirror, picking myself a part. You think at my age I’d thought of something better to do than make insecurities into a full time job- make insecurity into an art. And I fear my life will be over and I will have never lived it unfettered always glaring in the mirrors, mad I don’t look better.
But now here is this tiny baby, and they say she looks just like me- and she is smiling at me with that present infant glee. [Yes] and I would defend to the end’s of the earth her perfect right to be.”
As told by the yogic tradition, our karmas follow us around. One action will send a ripple of other actions deeply into the ocean of your psyche and physical sphere. Something you may have done when you were 3 (or in another life if you subscribe to that) will show up 20/30/100 years later or multiple/ hundreds of times throughout your life. I feel something in my karma is dealing with my deprivation of ‘enough’.
Not pretty enough. Not skinny enough. Not smart enough. Not successful enough. Not productive enough. It’s always a deficit and it always manifests in the sneakiest ways. I’m sure no one can relate :).
So as I was analyzing this odd behavior and series of karmas, I made the conscious choice to shift my behavior. Instead of feeling unworthy of this love, I would deeply embrace it, falsely at first – telling myself over and over- I am WORTHY of this love, this praise and this life I’ve been given. I am WORTHY. I AM WORTHY. I am worthy.
This is often how our yoga works. We have to falsely put the belief of oneness into our bodies first by practicing asana. Overtime, we go another layer deeper. We sync the oneness with our breath and our body. We move one sheeth past that and it begins to melt with our mind stuff. Over time, the oneness becomes cells in our being until we finally “transcend” (to be clear, I have no idea what that actually means, but it is probably a helluvalot better than self loathing).
I’m certainly only at the beginning of the path- but I’m infusing enoughness into myself with mantra, physicality and focus. When I’m talking to someone that I feel less than, I stand in tadasana. When I walk into a room where I feel deprivation sync in, I repeat “I am worthy,” and when my own mind- arguably my most difficult hurdle- tells me ‘no’ you’re not enough- or even better- do this to PROVE you are ENOUGH- I quietly take a deep, full breath in to remind myself that all I need, all my enoughness is already within.
REASON #2: Fear of death
This year, another reason reared it’s interesting, ugly head- the fear of death.
Abhnivesa- clinging to bodily life or fear of death- is the 5th klesha (obstacle) given in the Yoga Sutras. It’s an inescapable part of being human, and yet we are all afraid of it knowing all too well is coming.
Birthdays beg attention to our mortality. Perhaps from ages 0-25 we are unaware that each year represents one less on this earth, but once you get to 30 (trust me, I know, I’m still VERY young!) you begin to understand your finite-ness.
I was watching the movie Arrival with my family the day after my bday and [disclaimer- SPOILER ALERT AHEAD] when the end was uncovered I was overtaken with emotion. Amy Adams’ character knew the ending and yet she kept going… we all know the ending. We’re all going to die. So why do we keep going? Why wouldn’t we just quit and collapse right here, right now?
I theorize it’s because of our karmas (actions), klesas (obstacles) and svadharma (purpose). We keep going like playing a game that we know we will lose, because it’s kinda fun. Because there’s something interesting, perplexing, stimulating, intriguing that we want to investigate. I also think it’s because we KNOW there’s something to seek.
Perhaps that’s how we stepped into the ‘trophy generation’ of the 90’s. When I was growing up, if you so much as SHOWED UP to a softball game, you got a trophy. I really should never have received a trophy considering I was horrible and was the #1 kid to sit out in the outfield and make daisy chains… but we kept showing up (1. for the threat of our mom spanking us because she had paid so much to have us there) 2. because even though we knew we wouldn’t win… we’d still get some sort of prize.
Life is like that. We know we are going to die (or if you didn’t, spoiler alert #2…) and yet there is something in it for us that is worthwhile. It’s going to be painful, we will suffer losses and even if we go through the trials and tribulations, there are small trophies along the way.
All of this stirred in me upon my 30th, and I realized that I have two choices:
- Choice #1 Take each day as a new opportunity to begin again. Approach the battle field that is your life (hint: Bhagavad Gita reference) and BE IN THE GAME. It will bring challenge, it will bring sorrow and it will bring death- but why not go down fighting and trying?
- Choice #2 Slink back and let life take the wheel. Accept your ‘inadequacies’, ‘not enoughness’ and self-prophecy of failure.
I’m going with choice #1. I’m choosing to see each day as an opportunity to begin again. I’m not going to wait every year for my birthday or New Years to reinvest in the game. The game is NOW. We have no guarantees of when it comes to an end either, so why not jump in with two feet and fuckin’ RALLY.
That’s all I got. So, if you knew the ending (which you do…) would you keep going? If so, how?