I went into the desert to celebrate my birthday this past week with my best friend. . .
Yoga, meditation, spiritual discipline, whatever you want to call it, is about making friends with who you already are. It is not about doing away with your past trying to become something ‘better.’ The idea of ‘better’ implies that there is something wrong with us in the first place, a sort of aggression towards the self.
It took me years of therapy, and practice, to understand that there is nothing wrong with me. I can still be crazy, I can still be; angry, shy, jealous, insecure, and feel unworthy. There is nothing wrong with me. I can practice being gentle and open and clear about myself and call it yoga, meditation, or a spiritual practice, but it is all the same thing.
I can erase the distance I place between suffering (i.e. thinking something is wrong with me and if I do _____ I will be better) and others by befriending myself. Learning to be a loving person to our bodies, our thoughts, and emotions we can understand compassion and have loving kindness toward others.
So my best friend and I went into the desert for my birthday. We did a lot of talking. It is difficult to pinpoint where one conversation started and the other began. Curiously it is all one passing memory at this point.
While we were out there climbing over rocks, or looking up at the stars (and satellites and not know the difference) making dinner together, drinking coffee while shivering outside, somewhere 10 things stuck with me:
1) Stop – You are ‘there’ already, not ‘yet.’ Stop and watch the windmills turning in the wind along the way, there is no rush to get to the end since the end is only a continuation of the same journey.
2) Time doesn’t exist in the moment – The ‘best’ experiences last, and last. They will always be with you in memories until you get Alzheimer’s at which point it won’t matter.
3) Climb down backwards. There is something to hold onto but you got to trust that the ground is beneath your feet.
4) Say ‘no’ – do you. This isn’t always the easiest path but it will be the one that makes you happiest, or not, but you have no-one else to blame at the end of the day and no one else to be upset with. (It is harder than it seems especially if you listen to the words of others.)
5) It doesn’t take long to unplug. 2 hours from most any city there is an invisible wall that you can cross, shoulders relax, jaws soften, white knuckle grip on the wheel is replaced with feet on the dashboard. Make that choice.
6) ______________________________ (That’s the sound of silence. Sometimes it takes a while to get there and to be able to listen but the music it plays is delightful!)
7) Look up! That sky up there is holding you together. In the middle of nature there are more stars than people and it WILL take your breath away.
8) Simple is better. Go with less. You can always get more along the way, or pick up what you forgot. The question is . . . do you really need that or can you do without? There are so many things I can do without!
9) Get away often to remember this feeling, even if only reading about it in a book.
10) YOU ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND!!
Some other random shit happened too . . . I lost my hat stopping to look at those windmills and chased it into a fence. Near where the hat landed, some dudes underpants had also gotten snagged in the fence. How do you loose your boxers dude? . . . I don’t want to know. I forgot how to talk to people and had too much caffeine so my interaction with the park ranger was like talking to passengers on the CTA at 05:00 going to practice. Crackhead. I have a super healthy respect (FEAR) of heights and sometimes (OFTEN) go up too high before I think about getting back down. Driving across LA is the longest part of the trip. West Covina, so far east . . . ‘Are we there yet?’ HA!