The very first time I meditated I was five years old. I remember laying on the grass. I watched the cotton candy clouds floating by slowly, peacefully. I closed my eyes and could feel the vibrations of the ground beneath me. I remember feeling connected to my body and the Earth. I felt my heart beating and I sensed my entire being from my head to my toes. My mind rested.
Of course I did not know I was meditating or even what meditation was, but looking back that is totally what I was doing. I was listening and observing my body; my internal world. I was simply being.
I recently learned of a new -ism. You know, like racism, sexism, classism. But have you heard of healthism? Once I researched more I realized that I actually know this -ism all too well. Like a pair of cute jeans that don’t fit but I won’t get rid of, I see it every day. I see it on social media all the time and I myself have unknowingly participated in this mindset. So what is it?
Healthism is another form of shaming people (just like those cute jeans). It is when you believe that your way of being healthy is THE way and everyone else needs to pull up their big girl panties and get in line. There is an awesome scene from the Netflix series “Shrill” that exemplifies this. The main character (who is in a bigger body) is approached while getting coffee by a very well meaning, adorable and ENTHUSIASTIC fitness buff. The fitness buff insists that the main character has a skinny girl inside her just waiting to come out. In the book the series is based on, the writer jokes that the fitness buff makes it sound as if she has accidentally eaten the pretty little skinny girl. It’s funny but also great example of healthism at its best.
My friend is at home with her two sons. She wakes up to find them eating ice cream from the freezer. She takes the ice cream away and makes them a nutritious breakfast. The next morning she hears them getting into the freezer again and repeats the same steps. The third morning she’s in the shower enjoying the hot water, the silence, the time for herself, the steam and the delicious feeling of getting clean and ready for the day. She hears the freezer crack open. She sighs. The kids have ice cream for breakfast that day.
I have this beautiful little nature trail in my neighborhood where I love to do my walking meditation. No earbuds. No distractions. Just me, my thoughts and the fresh smell of Earth. If I keep my gaze straight I can pretend that the houses to my right do not exist. I imagine myself to be in a sweet forest with no buildings or people for miles. I listen to the crackle of leaves beneath my feet and the squirrels chirping overhead in the trees. I take it all in.
When I was a kid Halloween was so scary!! But also exciting? Isn’t that funny? Being scared can actually be a little fun? Like a roller coaster (a real one, not the proverbial one we are suffering through right now).
As an adult, I take fear very seriously. There is a lot of fear driving us right now and for good reason. Fear has the important job of trying to keep us safe.
When I was training to be a yoga teacher, my yoga instructor did a whole session on teaching from a place of love versus a place of fear. I get it. This lesson was supposed to parallel our lives. We should respond with love over fear so that we respond compassionately with others. As I propelled along my yoga journey though, I began to question the simplicity of it.
I used to kill everything. Certainly I was not born with a green thumb. I once killed a rosemary plant which is notoriously hardy. I was miraculous in my ineptitude yet longed to germinate, to cultivate, to grow something! It was beyond frustrating.
I’ve come a long way! Today, I have a couple of mint plants, some Lantana, an oregano plant, aloe, a peace lily and even (shockingly) was able to grow one extraordinarily supple cucumber (before the whole plant got too out of control, LOL). It’s been an amazing turn around. I thought of this the other day as I chatted with a friend who has the same shady history of planticide. I got curious. What changed?
Grief arrives to us in many forms. Loved ones pass on. Relationships move on. Seasons of life become a memory we revisit longingly. Our children grow older and we grieve the little people they were. We grieve past homes, friendships, pets and ways of life. And sometimes we grieve ourselves. We become lost. As if we are quite literally lost in a dark, wild forest not knowing where to begin to find our way out. Feeling the damp ground beneath our feet with every step.
My body is changing with age. Because of society’s ideas about age, it can be a difficult burden at times. To see my skin wrinkle and my waistline widen. I’m lucky to be the owner of a studio filled with (quite a few) women who are older than me. I get the opportunity to allow their years of wisdom to rain down on me. They probably don’t know it but I seek out those sprinkles of wisdom that only seem to come with age. Here’s what I’ve discovered.
Older women don’t give a F*CK what you think about them.
Recently I had lunch with a good friend. She said something to me that felt like a truth bomb had exploded in my heart.
“Your true people will always celebrate you. When you are with those that do not celebrate you then those are not your people. And it’s not personal. It just is.”
Of course! I already knew that but hearing her say the words really burst through my walls. Especially the word “celebrate.” Not acceptance or closeness but celebration. It’s a whole other level. An outburst of deep and true excitement for everything you are. Wow.
About a year ago I quit wearing my Garmin (FitBit/Apple watch/Letsfit, whatever your poison :) It occurred to me that I exercised only to achieve an arbitrary goal instead of for the enjoyment it brought me. For the feeling of warmth, strength and power I felt. I never walked simply to enjoy the walk, the flowers, the blue sky. I never stopped to feel my feet on the ground, the breeze on my skin or the sunlight on my face.
It reminds me of a book I’m reading by Thich Nhat Hanh. He talks about doing things just to do them, not to achieve a goal. He says that everything you need you already possess. I read that and thought, “Really? Maybe YOU possess everything you need but not me.” LOL!
Read my thoughts on yoga, teaching, parenting and everything in between. Shout out to Tiffany Stewart for help with the writing.