Every week, I pick a collective intention – a sankalpa – for my yoga classes. I incorporate a reading with this theme in mind for our final savasana. All of these themes evolve out of what I’m thinking, feeling, needing right now, and my hope is my students will find something relatable and meaningful in it. This is my hope for you, too. So this week, concentrate on this idea of patience in the face of uncertainty and whatever that means to you – as it applies to your love life, or simply where you are in your life, a challenging co-worker, your Levis that aren’t offering as much room anymore (OK, OK that’s my problem).
“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
Does a relationship count if it’s not Facebook Official? Like, if both parties haven’t updated their status, are they really truly together? Someone recently asked me about this because her new boyfriend hadn’t updated his status even though they already had the “we’re exclusive” conversation and had been dating four months. Her concern was that not making things official on Facebook meant he wasn’t serious about her and was keeping his options open.
(My response: If the concern is about him leaving a door open for other possibilities, ask. If he cares about you and wants to be with you, he will be concerned. And if he is in fact leaving the door open, that’s also good to know. Also is him changing his status on Facebook really going to make you feel better, or is there something he isn’t doing in real life that makes you question where you stand?)
For new couples, declaring yourself boyfriend and girlfriend to each other, then to your family and friends— this process of relationship defining means so much, especially if it’s been a long time since a relationship has stuck. Maybe you tread lightly. Maybe you don’t like massive declarations. WHAT IF YOU AREN’T EVEN ON FACEBOOK???
Four months can be early for some. Even six months. We might be committed to not seeing other people but we also might be still assessing, and it’s OK to take the time to let a relationship unfold and honor how you are feeling. If that means your relationship status doesn’t make it to the news feed quite yet, so be it. It may be less about keeping options open and more about making sure it’s right. Because those damn broken hearts that pop up when someone goes from “in a relationship” to “single” are the worst kind of declaration at the worst time. (Cue sad tuba.) Stupid emoji.
In cleaning out my desk here at home, I found this old writing assignment from junior year in high school. I wrote it almost exactly 21 years ago to the date of “The Science of Single” being published. Coincidence? Not really.
The writing assignment was “Romanticize.” I’m guessing we were supposed to romanticize a situation. It’s quite possible I thought I was supposed to simply write about a romantic situation. I do believe I succeeded in doing both. (Hence my score 20 out of 20. BOOM.)
I’d had a couple first dates before writing this. They were all awkward. Two of them involved parental chauffeurs. None involved Jaguars, roses or stolen glances. I’m pretty sure my English teacher should have swooped in with a smack of reality to the head as soon as I turned this in, though ultimately, if you take out the creepy sports car and creepier stolen glances, it’s a nice date.
Alas, I never reached this pinnacle of dating (unless you count the guy with the hired car and driver). Just yesterday, I joked that all my dates now consist of moonlight walks to the compost bin at the neighborhood community garden. I was half joking. Don’t worry, we go to dinner and the movies, too. In my sleek red Hyundai.
Please disregard bubble cursive. (And if you’d like even more 90s-era writing by me, I’d be glad to share with you a paper I wrote for my junior year in college entitled: An Interpretation of Cleaver’s Supermasculine Menial, Omnipotent Administrator, Amazon, and Ultrafeminine in the novels Invisible Man and Middle Passage and the play Dutchman.)
Here’s another lesson from a cool video called “Long Live the Kings.” French Guys with French Hair on French Motorcycles. Be sure to watch to the scene of one of them pulling sardines from a can with a knife and licking the blade. Mon Dieu. But mostly, listen to the part with this quote. (Don’t just read the quote. You need to listen to it with the guy and his French Accent. Means so much more.)
“We wanted to cross the mountains so we went to the mountains. And one thing that we did learn from that experience is that you don’t really cross a mountain, it just lets you through. Some roads are closed, some can be dangerous, and some of those, well, they just lead to nowhere. So it’s no playground here, you just gotta go where you’re allowed to.”
During my three weeks at yoga camp in November, I learned a few things. Not just about how to cue Vrksasana (tree), my favorite pose and Bhujangasana (cobra), the pose with the coolest sounding name (seriously say it out loud right now [boo-jang-ahhs-anna] and tell me I’m wrong). I got a little closer to myself. I experienced moments in meditation during which I seriously, from the bottom of my heart, thought I would levitate. Seriously. And there was one day I cried for two hours straight. Couldn’t stop. I’d encountered some obstacles.
We worked hard in small spaces with people we were just getting to know. There was no door to the bathroom in my bungalow fit for three. Shoot, the wall between the sleeping space and the toiley didn’t even go all the way up. Our longest physical training class was from 2 to 5 pm in the hot afternoon sun. But there was always the sound of the ocean rolling and crashing right there. Right there. Always present. Soothing, but then sometimes I wished there was a volume control because I couldn’t always hear the spiritual lesson. Dang ocean. We OMed easily 10x a day. We OMed it in for every meditation, class and lesson. And then we OMed it out when we were done. Sometimes we sounded like dying sheep. Others, it was a resounding harmony of full-bodied church bells. The primordial sound of the universe at creation. We manifested our desires. I did this by shouting mine into the ocean under the new moon.
It was a very special moment and time. Now that I’m back in regular life, I’m incorporating the things we learned. Here are some basic lessons that I follow about 93 percent of the time.
1. First thing in the morning, scrape your tongue. And then use your neti pot. Gets out the gunk. Feels good.
2. Do some breathing exercises. (Anuloma Viloma is my fave. This video is also amazing.) Then meditate. Even if it’s just for five minutes.
3. Look for the good in people and know that even if they are challenging to work with, they are probably doing their best.
4. Once you stop judging others, you can stop judging yourself. Works the other way around, too.
5. Ask for what you want. Seriously, when you ask the universe for something, it will deliver exactly what you ask for in a timely fashion. I didn’t believe it before yoga camp, but I believe it now.