This is me. I am drunk, on drugs, and, as you can see, eating a giant donut (never mind the face paint and alien antennae). Could I Thrive?
To be fair, it was Mardi Gras and I was probably the least inebriated person in a three block radius. But honestly, there are a lot of pictures of me like this out there, and most of them were taken on regular Tuesdays, not Fat Tuesday.
I am a 40 year old recovering party girl.
You could take this picture of me any day of the week. I get up daily before dawn to meditate. I practice asana ten hours a week. I’m vegan. I eat local, love home grown food and I can tell you where to find nutritious edible weeds.
I am a yoga teacher.
It may seem like these are two very different people, or at least two very different sides of me. But the reality is that I am both of these people at the same time.
Last week I baked pot brownies. They were vegan and organic. The oozed with THC and ooey gooey very high cacao content chocolate chips. Yum. I ate two. In the afternoon on a weekday. What did I do with my altered state? Binge watched bad tv.
I practiced. I got on my mat and wrung myself out. I luxuriated in the novelty of my altered state. I had a personal epiphany about side bends, twists, and subtle undulations of the spine that I neglect in the discipline of my regular practice (read sober).
Those ideas now inform my teaching. I’ve spent every class since slowing my students down, asking them to move in new ways, asking them to find strangeness in the familiarity of their own experience.
I did NOT tell my students that they should also get high so they can experience their practice with new eyes. I used my experience to help guide them into new territory. Altered consciousness can be experienced with subtle shifts in perspective. No substances necessary.
So why did I get high? Because it was a fun way to spend my afternoon. Duh.
I could probably do a lot of justifying my stoned yoga by saying that I did it to increase my awareness or so that my students don’t have to, blah blah blah, but really, it was just fun.
And I like to have fun. Not just good clean fun, but also sloppy drunk fun. Also muddy one with nature fun. Also spacing out and watching TV fun. Also marathon curriculum planning hard work fun. I like all the fun.
Some of y’all are totally on board with this. I see you outside the studio with a big fat spliff. I see you working 14 hour days doing something you love. I see you struggling to find that mysterious state called balance.
Some of y’all are totally not into this and you are probably judging me hard right now. Go ahead. I’ve been there, too.
Here’s the thing. We all have ideas about what yoga teachers are supposed to be like and what health coaches are supposed to be like. All of us want to have teachers and guides that we can look up to. The reality is that all the people we look up to are totally human beings who have habits that may not jibe with our expectations. There are no perfect role models.
So, then, we have a choice. We can accept our less than perfect role models or we can live in a state of constant disappointment. Personally, I think it’s more realistic to accept that our teachers are not perfect and, instead of judging them on their imperfections, we can judge them based on how they handle their imperfections. Do they use their bad habits to evolve or devolve. Do they unquestioningly follow their pleasures and addictions, or do they question and learn from everything? Do they show their work?
My general philosophy of life is, “try it.” Try it and see if it works for you. Be brave enough to see the answer. At this moment in my life, I really like the fun of tapping into my dinacharya in ways that allow me to feel more expansive, more energized, more alive, and more thrive. This is what brings me here to Body Thrive and Yoga Health Coaching. I also like pot brownies. Right now, both are working for me
I’m not new here. I’ve read the book three times. I’ve gone through the habit changes once on my own, once as a member of a group, and once as part of an immersion that I led. The changes I’ve made in my habits have had a monumental effect on my general feeling of wellness, on my productivity, on the alignment of my thought and action.
I believe that making subtle small shifts in your daily habits can change your total life experience. I want more of that, and I want to share it with other people. But I don’t want to be uptight about it and I don’t want to give up fun. But I am willing to question all my habits and pleasures to find new kinds of fun and new kinds of balance and new levels of thrive.
I’ve committed the next year to charting my voyage through the ten habits of Body Thrive here on this blog. I will go in deep on each habit for one month.
You can come, too.
Each month, I will write about my experiments in habit evolution. Each month, I will struggle and succeed (maybe). I will show you what it is like for a “real person” with bad habits and a rebellious streak a mile wide to commit to thrive. For your entertainment, I will demonstrate what it looks like when someone with equal parts discipline and total disregard for the rules comes into greater alignment.
I’ll laugh. I’ll cry. I’ll mediate. I’ll get high (on life, and maybe other things). I will use the wisdom of yoga and Ayurveda to evolve. And you will know that if I can do it, so can you.