The things we hide (get ready for the raw)

We all have a self that we portray to others that is different from who we are when we’re alone.  Some people are closer to portraying their true selves than others, but we all do it. Our desire to be accepted runs very deep, particularly in Western cultures.  The irony is that we all want to be accepted exactly as we are, and yet we modify our true nature to comply with what we think are adequate social norms.

As someone with an ‘invisible illness’ — that is I’m not missing any limbs so it’s hard for people to understand the challenges I face each day — I certainly have my skeletons, but my motivation isn’t quite about acceptance. It’s more about avoiding non-acceptance.  There’s nothing worse than being on the receiving end a look of pity or hearing a tone of burden or irritation in someone’s voice.

Many people with CF will joke about how much we try to ‘slide’ into our daily lives with the hopes of going unnoticed.

Here are 10 things I hide:

1. I can take 10 pills before eating a meal in public quicker than Flash Gordon.

2. I’ll ride the elevator or go to my car during the day for no reason just so I can have a coughing fit in peace.

3. There are literally only 7 people in my life whom I feel comfortable with doing my daily breathing treatments and physiotherapy in front of

4. I can rock a wicked ace bandage to hide a PICC line

5. I avoid romantic relationships because I don’t want to bother someone with my coughing at night and in the morning, or see me with IVs to the hilt, or ever be considered a burden.

6. My close friends are the only ones who I allow to see me be vulnerable and scared about my disease — and even that is only parsed.

7. I can stuff my anxiety down with humor, but when I’m alone it can be quite electric

8. I’ve only recently begun to seek the advice and support of others with CF because until recently, I didn’t allow it to be real (Shout out to Ronnie Sharpe and Brooke Sterling).

9. I lay on my side during Savasana in yoga class or leave early, so that I don’t cough and disturb others

10. I put on a brave face as much as I can even when I feel like I’m falling apart

I know a lot of my desire to avoid pity or stigma is my own to deal with, but there have been situations in my past that have shaped me.  So, I work each day to accept of who I am and ignore the rest.

Having this illness has made me who I am.  In many ways, I’m actually grateful for what I’ve learned.  The funny thing that I’ve noticed is that what we hide is often the things that make us who we are — unique, special, human.

What do you hide?

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Related Posts on Charmed Yogi: A letter to yogis with chronic illness

Advertisements

Go ahead and ‘What if?’

What i

Most of us spend the majority of our time living in either the past or the future.  Neither of these states actually exist, nor can we control them.  This lack of control of something we CAN’T leads to a cycle of suffering marked by anxiety, guilt, fear, or self-judgement.

Phrases like ‘I should have’ or ‘I shouldn’t have’ indicate we’re reliving something that has passed and yet, we can’t let go. If you let the mind keep up this pace, you’ll end up shoulding all over yourself.

And, the ‘What ifs?’ can quite literally paralyze us from moving forward in life for fear that something bad will happen.

So, what happens when we answer ourselves with the opposite or confirm that the decision we have made is already done?  We find a little peace.

The next time you find yourself feeling guilty about something, find the ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ statement at the heart of the suffering, and simply answer ‘Oh well, I didn’t’ or ‘Oh well, I did,’ and sit with it.  No need for self-flagellation, just acknowledgement and taking responsibility.  Then let it go.

If you find yourself feeling worry or fear, find the ‘what if’ and throw in the opposite just for kicks.  ‘What if I ask her and she rejects me?’

‘What if she doesn’t?’

‘What if I fail?’

‘What if you succeed?’

‘What if I die alone?’

‘What if you don’t?’

I’m not suggesting that you get caught up in another future state wormhole in which you pontificate scenarios that don’t yet exist, but rather, offer up your ego both sides of the argument it’s making when it tries to take you down.

Living in the present takes effort and discipline.  Don’t let your mind run over you like a spoiled child.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

(Photo: MrWallpaper)

Related posts: 

Follow those thoughts, and step on it!

In yoga, we often talk about non-attachment, particularly when it comes to our thoughts. But, sometimes it’s great to do some investigative reporting.

As is customary, I am reading several books at once.  One of them is Buddhist Bootcamp, by Timber Hawkeye.  As is also customary, I often highlight or capture in a journal those statements or quotes that I find compelling and transformative.

I find it refreshing that he suggests we f0llow our thoughts out of curiosity.

“Habitually contemplate whether your thoughts stem from love or from fear. If your thoughts originate in love, then follow them. If they originate from a place of fear, then dig deep to find the root of your fear.  Only then will you be able to finally let go, so fear no longer limits your possibilities.”

It’s quite fascinating when you follow your thoughts, judgements and emotional responses like a curious cat.  You may find that what you think may be a root cause for a preconception or fear, isn’t at all.

I’ve been trying to take Timber’s challenge a step further, and I pass that onto you.  Rather than stopping at finding out the source of your fear, continue your journey and see if you can find the source below the source.  See if you can illuminate the darkness with compassion.

For example, if you find yourself glowering at someone who’s annoying you, dig deep to find out what that feeling is really about.  Have the courage to look into how you may possess those qualities, accept them and find a wellspring of compassion.

It’s there.  I promise.

(Photo: Flickr / Dominique LaTour)

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Related posts:

Take fear into your infinite heart

buddhist meditating on heart

Our hearts have an infinite capacity for loving, healing, learning, and illuminating. When we’re angry, we can feel our hearts close, and when we forgive we can feel our entire bodies soften.

When we are in pain, we can let down the walls around our hearts and let others in.  And, when we are afraid, we can open our hearts and let it swallow our fears, only to shine brighter after.

To fight pain, fear and anger is to give those things power, to deny part of ourselves. Instead, take those things into your heart where they are acknowledged, welcomed, accepted, comforted and transmuted.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

(Photo: Tumblr/Ozone Baby)

Related posts:

 

Be nice to the scary clown

cant sleep clown will eat me bart simpson

When I was little, I was horrified of clowns. Truthfully they still unsettle me a little bit.

I don’t know how or when it started, but when I think about it anything that falls into the “adult dressed as giant cartoon character” genre put me off.

The funny thing was I had this belief that if I had a clown, and took very good care of it, somehow I would be protected by the evil of all clowns.

So, I would go above and beyond the call of niceness to my clown doll even over other stuffed animals even though I was horrified by its unsettling smile. I would overcome my fear, by embracing it and trying to love it as a part of me.

As an adult I look back and laugh at the rationale of my five-year-old mind. And at the same time, I can find a thread of yogic wisdom in my childhood mentality.

As adults, we become conditioned by life to repel situations that make us uncomfortable or create anxiety. As a child I not only embraced the notion of letting go of aversion, I surmounted it by holding my single largest fear closest to me; looking it squarely in the creepy face each night.

And while my motivation was more self-serving at first, (to avoid the wrath of all clowns by befriending one) I had eventually desensitized myself to the physical sensation and reactions of my clown-based fear. And Clarabelle became nothing more than another doll.

We can do this as adults too.  We can look our fears right in the eye,  realize that it’s our mind telling us to be afraid, accept the object for what it is, and create space around that fear.  Not space like a buffer to protect us, but the space that allows us to realize our fear is separate from ourselves.

Replace your fear with curiosity.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

(Photo: Pinterest)

Related posts:

Walk the plank of life with acceptance

walking the plank

It’s funny how life has a way of smacking you upside the head with messages if you’re awake to them.  I shared a quote on Google+ that I saw recently, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” ~Thomas Jefferson. But then someone responded to my post with this and I loved it even more, “When you reach the end of your rope, Let Go.” ~Buddhism.

Acceptance can be tricky.  Easy to say, often hard to do. The catch-22 is that the one thing that is hardest for us to accept, will set us free when we do. Some people struggle with accepting divorce, others with loss, and others have a hard time accepting that their life just didn’t turn out like they thought it would, and it’s the struggle itself that causes much our suffering. For me, it’s managing a chronic illness. Continue reading

Would you die for your dream?

martin luther king jr quote

Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream — a life of freedom and equality for every citizen born of love, not violence. He believed that only light could drive out the darkness, and only love could banish hate. His faith guided him throughout his life, and asked others to have faith to take the first step even if they couldn’t see the staircase.

At the age of 35, Martin Luther King, Jr. was the youngest man to win the Nobel Peace Prize and donated his $54K prize money to the civil rights movement, a dream he believed in, a passion and compassion for which he paid the ultimate price.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Do you have a dream? What would you give up for your dream?

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Related posts:

(Photo: Pinterest)

Accepting the unacceptable

mourning statue

At times like this, it’s hard for me to make sense out of the violence and suffering that occur in the world. I talk often about acceptance and awareness, and yet here I sit, a hypocrite, finding it near impossible to reconcile or make peace with what has happened this past week. But, I think what helps me avoid getting stuck in a glut of anger is realizing that acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean endorsement.

In 2012 there have been more than 50 mass shootings in the U.S., the most recent at a Connecticut school that left 27 people are dead, including 18 children. As I type the words, it’s hard for me to digest. I truly have no words.

Although I’ve never met him, one of my most beloved teachers is Eckhart Tolle. His words tranformed me when I was in a not-so-awesome place. I thought this video on dissolving suffering was poignant. It’s not about mass violence, but the message on transmuting suffering into peace is worth watching.

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”

– Mahatma Gandhi

Be well. Love and be loved. Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

Related posts:

(Photo: StLouisCatholic)