In my experience, we humans tend to think we are extremely unique in our thoughts and feelings: “no one thinks these crazy thoughts like I do” or “no one has this much hurt/shame/guilt/fear in their hearts” or “it’s hard for others to understand me because I am so much more intelligent than almost everyone else ever” etc.
While I’ll agree that everyone has something to offer this world, and every person is a child of (enter deity here), worthy of love and respect… I’m convinced that we are having a collective experience that becomes meaningful only when it’s shared among us. What that has to mean then, is that we have to be having the same experiences or no one would be able to exercise their empathy and emotional understanding. In other words, no one could relate to anyone else.
There is a phrase I have heard tossed around called “terminal uniqueness” which refers to people that are in a place where they’d rather literally die than be willing to accept help or guidance. Having once suffered from this condition myself, I can definitively say two things: 1. it is absolutely the most awful feeling when you believe you’re experiencing stuff no one else has ever felt or done – anywhere you go, anything you do, no one can help you, understand you or even forgive you for your thoughts, feelings, actions. 2. THERE IS A CURE.
Because the illness exists solely in your head, as soon as you are ready to be cured – poof! – you are miraculously able to begin the healing, grow, and most importantly help other people do the same. My experience with overcoming terminal uniqueness is the same as everyone else’s experience. (See what I did there?!) I needed loving guidance toward the new idea that I while I may be very special in my own way like my momma told me I am – I am not, in fact, experiencing my life differently than any human that has ever existed on the planet. I’m not a new breed of human and therefore my limitations are within the realm of human experience. In other words I was basically told, “Sweetie, get over yourself” and then comforted as the shock of realization hit me. They were indeed correct in what only moments ago I had thought obnoxious, presumptuous and downright rude.
The most painful part in this epiphany for me was the torrential rush of hope I felt as this new reality sank in. If I am understandable, if I am one among many, if my thoughts, feelings and actions aren’t despicably inhuman or inexplicably disgusting then some one, somewhere can help me. If I can be helped, then life might not be so isolated and painful. If life isn’t so isolated, so painful – then, just maybe, I can be free. I didn’t dare hope too hard right away. I had had hope before, only to have it be crushed by people in just as much pain and ill circumstance… so I was still afraid that this relief was fleeting. Freedom seems impossible when our captor appears invincible. Realizing that what is holding you back are your old ideas and thoughts (either fed to you or made up by you to survive your environment) and not any outside force, can give you courage to fight for that freedom, for inner peace, for a chance for true happiness.
Since discovering I am just like everyone else, I have found other people walking around with that same horrible mix of grandiosity and utter shame of terminal uniqueness. I’ve seen people die from it. It’s a terrible tragedy to see life end for no other reason than we couldn’t help them see how ordinary their problems are. Sometimes people have had their hope crushed so many times they simply can’t allow themselves any hope at all.
I hope this post encourages you to either ask for help, or offer it, depending where you are on your journey. Here are some of the phrases that helped me to become one among many, though they may seem harsh they were all delivered in pure love:
“Get over yourself sweetie”
“You can’t tell me anything I haven’t heard before, but I encourage you to try.”
“You haven’t done anything we didn’t already do… Twice. While naked.”
“Sorry, you’re just not that special.”
“Of course you punched her/pooped your pants/cried for three days/etc. I would have done the same thing in your shoes.”
“We will love you til you can love yourself. Go ahead and act a fool. We’ll still be here when you wear yourself out.”
“Don’t leave before the miracle happens.”
What they didn’t tell me is that the miracle was me feeling like I belonged somewhere – right here, on Earth, with you. My spot was reserved at birth, and no actions I took or thoughts I had could remove it. The same is true for every single person. Sorry, you’re just not that special…
Last night was Level One graduation night, I can’t believe 8 weeks goes by so fast! The transformation in such a short amount of time is astonishing, and seeing an entire group of women become confident is absolutely priceless. Their revolutions and revelations bring back memories of my own experience and the remarkable changes I’ve seen in the ladies of the YF community around me over the last 4 years. They remind me why it’s so valuable to start (and then continue!) a yoga practice. The strength and resilience gained by the mind and body support the spiritual health created by a consistent use of breath and focus.
I believe that any woman would benefit from Yoga Flirt. Last night I heard the Level One graduates sharing their stories, amazed by their own boldness and bravery in the outside world after two months of class. There were hugs and promises to stay in touch, as they will have a new instructor for level two. As the last woman left the studio, she had an enormous smile on her face that was lit up from within. I had never seen that look on her face before, but I’ve seen it on many other students faces as they break through their self-consciousness and fears! The feeling I get as their instructor is completely indescribable. For me, being an instructor means I have been given the gift of learning from my students. It is truly humbling.
Come, be my teacher! Spring session Level One starts THIS THURSDAY, May 2nd at 5:45pm-7:15pm. It’s an 8 week session, and you can sign up on the Yoga Flirt website. As a little bit of incentive, I’ll give you $30 off of Level One if you sign up for the session that starts this week. There are only 5 spots left, so please let me know ASAP if you want to take advantage of the offer to ensure you get a spot. All classes max out at 12 women, to ensure enough quality time is spent with each student. If enough ladies want to take Level One when Thursday sells out, Cathy might attempt to create another time slot. I can’t guarantee it, but it’s very possible!
If you’re in the area and want to get started, please go to Facebook, like my page and private message me, or find me on Twitter and send me a private tweet. If you’re an out of town gal, do not fret… I will collaborate with Cathy to help spread the love if we can!
So, where were we? Oh, yes that’s right… Possibilities, and the foundation it was built upon. Learning a new lesson each week in YF class was a great start. The information was seeping in around the edges of my life, it was effortlessly happening. It was like I had just been waiting for some one to tell me how to do what I’d wanted to do all along.
But now we’re getting back to not knowing what you don’t know that you don’t know. For instance: I had no idea that I had such a hang-up about letting myself try to look good (or even hot!). Before YF, applying make up was something I did for work or a special occasion, and I definitely didn’t go in for revealing clothes. If I did do myself up or wear something a little clingy, I was sure that people were thinking, “Why is she trying to look good? She’s obviously vain, and she’s a fraud too. She looks like a fool in that dress/skirt/eyeliner.”
WHAT? Why would a grown woman be afraid to be feminine? It has to do with my childhood, of course! I felt that drawing any attention to myself was a bad idea, because it surely was when I was a kid. My peers would make fun of me if I didn’t wear the “right” outfit, or changed my hair in an uncool way. If I wore something that showed off my body they’d say I was conceited, and that I was just trying to stick my boobs out so the boys would look. (Like that’s a bad thing?) That right there helped me develop some rotten self-esteem, believing I didn’t deserve to feel good by looking good. Baggy jeans and an extra large t-shirt were my uniform for several years.
I was at the point in my life where I would try to wear make up more often, but I avoided having any personal “style” at all costs. Then we moved away from a set dance routine in YF. I don’t want to give everything away, but we learned to freely express ourselves through movement in level four. Cathy encouraged us to wear and remove layers, stop thinking about moving and just move. She encouraged us to be our true selves, and not mimic others. Otherwise known as: having your own “style.” Since I fancy myself such a great student, I felt I should not let Cathy down. Letting my mind be led by my body was a difficult but wonderful process. I began to develop a trance-like state when I danced. Everyone in the class, teacher and students, were super complimentary and supportive when I truly let go. They could tell I was really being authentic with my dance.
And so, a personal style was born! I was once afraid, but not any more. Sure, I still have confidence issues from time to time… but for the most part, I wear what I like and if people don’t like it, well every one is entitled to their opinion.
There’s also the idea of self-expression, and being bravely authentic during the times when a woman is expected to just, well, take it like a man. Cowgirl up, you might say. I don’t fake feeling fine anymore with my true friends. On the whole, I am pretty optimistic and positive, but everyone gets her panties in a bunch from time to time! So when I do, I let people know. I will usually dance it out in class anyway.
When my precious doggie died, I danced to “Heavenly Day” by Patty Griffin. As the song came to an end, I just crumpled down on the floor and cried. Cathy brought me a tissue and a hug. It felt good to be so raw in such a safe place that I do it as much as I can! I find a song to match my mood and hash it out in stilettos. If you’re angry, stomping around in 6-inch heels, then taking them off and chucking them at the floor is very therapeutic. And the gals in the crowd will just hoot and holler and love you for your emotional honesty.
Emotional honesty, once experienced, can be like a drug. It feels so good to name your pain or joy when it’s safe to do so. The yoga principle for truthfulness is satya. Practicing satya in class has helped me be more honest outside of class. Come to find out, having a real feeling about something isn’t frowned upon if you’re with the right people.
Yoga Flirt has taught me that I am safe, even when I’m sexy, passionate, or even just sad. It has taught me more about finding the right people to be authentic with, and they have taught me more about finding my truth. My truth changes, and so it’s important to stay on top of it. Check my emotional temperature, if you will. A weekly class where I am asked to examine my truth gives me an opportunity to see when it changes, ask why it changed and – yes! – remember that it’s probably going to be different next week any way.
I hope you find your truth today, and that you say it out loud to some one you trust. And maybe you could share a little truth here, if you don’t mind? I’d love to hear what’s really going on.
Cathy asked me to assist her newly minted instructors in the large level one classes that were going on quite a bit in the summer of 2009. She has always believed in me, even before I started being able to believe in myself. The passion I have for both teaching and Yoga Flirt came together and it was electric! Getting to watch the ladies transform into true Flirt Sisters was such an honor, such a humbling experience. So I moved from student to staff member/student and it was an easy transition.
However, the next challenge of my Yoga Flirt journey came quickly… inversions. I was full of self-doubt, but nothing could compete with how excited I was to try anyway. I did try, I did succeed and I felt pretty awesome about it. Thrill rides are a favorite of mine, and here I was creating my own little thrill ride using my own two hands.
Eventually we got to moves that required “side skin” which meant exposing a large area of midriff. First thought: Not enough that I had to get comfortable showing my legs, now I have to show you my soft white belly? Cathy would then demo the move and it would be beautiful, or neat, or challenging. Next thought: I hope I have my shirt hiked up far enough to stick to the pole.
It’s not that I’m completely free with my body now. I still nervously tug at my clothes to make sure my muffin top is covered or that my belly doesn’t show. But put me in the YF studio, and all that anxiety gets left at the door. You might be surprised what I’d be willing to take off when I’m inspired! My sisters don’t care about my rolls or cellulite, and I know because I don’t care about theirs. There are very few perfect women in the world, and we should celebrate diversity anyway, right?
The YF studio is a place where sensuality rules. There’s no men allowed, so there’s never a “sex” vibe in there. But, boy does it get sexy in there! I am not physically attracted to women, but there’s something so amazingly hot about a woman who’s expressing herself in a vulnerable way without an ounce of self-conciousness. One day I realized that I was probably seeing women in the way men do all the time! It gave me hope that the shape of my body was not as important to my husband as what I was willing to do with it. I experimented with that idea – acting as if my curves were amazing, and not hiding them under the covers. It turns out that the aformentioned hope was right on target, all it took was a little faith and a whole lot of courage. The six-inch heels didn’t hurt the situation either!
More, later. xo
I posted a poll a few days back and finally figured out how to view the results. Yay for me! The poll said “I love Yoga Flirt because:” and the answers I put in were: “it gave me permission to give myself a break,” “it gives me a reason to expand my shoe collection,” “it transformed my body,” “I have so many new girlfriends!,” “my relationship has benefitted from my YF practice,” “I can’t choose, all of the above!,” and I left a write in blank. 60% answered “all of the above” but I couldn’t find the results for the gals who did the write in part until just now. I love their answers and want to share them with you:
It SAVED my life.
It caused me to step outside my comfort zone. And like it!
I can feel happy with my body even if it isn’t perfect.
fabulous and fun workout!
*sigh* I love you ladies…
Today started like every Wednesday seems to have started for the past couple of months, and that’s not a good thing! Not only are we down an employee already, but one of the openers at work called and said he’d be a few hours late. So I start my day making urgent early morning phone calls to my employees to cover the store. Every week the same thing. There’s even more that happened today that was less than cool, but it’s whiny and boring. So, moving on.
Despite my very best efforts, Wednesday inevitably ends up being my favorite day of any given week because I teach the level one Yoga Flirt class on Wednesday nights. The start of Yoga Flirt in level one is such a beautiful thing to experience! I thought I’d get a good workout, and I was right. But I was also given permission on the first day of class to stop beating myself up, which I’d never, ever thought of trying! It felt AMAZING.
So, getting to discover joy with my students over and over again is the best. So by the time class is over and I’m on my way home, I feel euphoric. Tonight is graduation for my level one class… I hope I don’t cry too many tears of pride at the whole class’ amazing transformation.
This morning I woke up with a Jay-Z song in my head (random?) and also this thought: You have to give it away to keep it. I hear that a lot in my circle of friends but I have never thought about how it correlates to my attraction to teaching level one over and over again. It turns out it’s very fitting, because every time I take a new group of women through the epic journey that is level one in Yoga Flirt, I experience the transformation with them. And I love and thank them for teaching me so much.