When I believe my thoughts I am anxious.
When I connect with reality, I am at peace.
I have known this for a long time,
and now more than ever it holds true.
It is so humbling to admit that all of my training
couldn’t prepare me for this reality.
Yoga is fun and neat when you’re sitting in a room
with 30 people, learning how to teach people yoga
in a thriving studio on a normal day.
No one prepared me for a Pandemic.
No one told me how it would feel
when I couldn’t see my students anymore.
No one explained what it would be like
to go into a store and find empty shelves.
No one described the despair I’d feel
contemplating bringing my children up
during a widespread economic collapse.
After so many years of encouraging my students to breathe,
I find myself holding my breath.
After teaching my students how to stay present,
I find myself feeling anxious about the future.
After guiding my students into deep relaxation,
I feel anxiety alive in my body.
I remember that this will one day be a memory.
When this is all over,
I’d like to be able to tell the story about how I realized
I could just fully relax,
how I spent my time creating wonderful things
and then the Pandemic was over,
and I could look back on the quarantine
feeling proud that I stayed strong…
I guess I better start breathing
and staying present,
just like I’ve been teaching all these years.
It’s up to me.
I choose how I go through this.
I choose my response.
The old habit may be to panic,
catastrophize and focus
on what could go wrong,
but this habit isn’t helpful.
It isn’t life-affirming,
It doesn’t enable me
to offer my gifts to the world.
Why not breathe?
Why not practice gratitude
for what could be
an incredible opportunity
for awakening, for transformation?
Why not envision
a realm of infinite possibility?
Let’s collectively create
a brand new habit called:
awakening to our blessings,
offering our gifts in service
to the greatest good!
If I am not the mean voice inside my head,
who am I ?
Am I any less the mean voice than the loving one?
And just who gets to determine who I am?
A houseful of belongings,
no motivation to figure out where they’re going,
and the clock ticks away unrelentingly.
This house is not my own.
Then again, neither is this body.
I rented this form from Planet Earth
and to her it shall return.
What will I do with this borrowed time,
as each day draws me closer to my death?
I dreamed of self-realization…
for the longest time I thought
each day would unlock a little more of the mystery.
But in the wake of this rude transition
from married to single
from wealthy to impoverished
from homeowner to homeless,
what does this self-realization journey matter?
Will God come and save me if I’m living in a box?
I need to take action,
and my will is gone.
My creative spark is snuffed out.
Or maybe these words provide a glimmer?
Someone had to write them.
Who is she?
I guess it isn’t all gone…
When faced with imminent homelessness
and being met with obstacle after obstacle
to securing a home for myself and my kids—
what real choice is there?
I can choose to be present and experience peace,
or I can choose to focus on the future
and feel terror.
The choice seems so easy, doesn’t it?
Just stay present. Just choose peace.
But then there is the reality of being human,
having been trained to avoid the present moment
for most of my life.
Yes, even as a yoga teacher,
even with my daily meditation practice
(over seven years now of daily meditation)
I still find it extraordinarily difficult
just to remain present.
There are so many ways I’ve learned
to just not be here. To just not feel.
I see that my body has been terrified for a long time,
perhaps since childhood…
perhaps I carry the terror of ancestors
struggling to survive,
a terror encoded in my genes
that no amount of therapy could cure.
My task becomes a reconditioning
of this body-mind,
to retrain my nervous system to udnerstand
that in this moment, I am safe.
In this moment, all is well.
Until I am able to gain more footing
on this path of peace,
I’ll need to be content with the space
between peace and terror,
and reconcile the one who is afraid
with the one who soothes, reassures, calms and holds.
God, let me find the One within me
that knows just what to do and what to say
to always bring me back home to the ground of being,
this moment where PEACE IS within me,
despite the chaos the swirls around on the outside.
I found out today
that even though I could afford it,
I don’t qualify for the apartment
I wanted to lease
in order to keep my kids in the same school zone…
because (according to them) my income is too low.
I live in one of the richest countries on earth,
and I am being forced further into poverty.
So I reached out to my children’s father,
asking him to be a guarantor,
with the understanding that he would provide
no further support than what is court-ordered
in our marital settlement agreement.
This just opened the door
to more narcissistic abuse…
criticism, shaming, belittling,
I shared my experience
in the relationships group
of my meditation app,
and the moderator took it down,
saying that I needed to keep with the
theme of relationships
and not focus so much on finances.
CAN YOU SEPARATE RELATIONSHIPS AND FINANCES?
No, I don’t think you can,
because life costs money,
and money is one of the most
stressful aspects of any relationship.
Just a few thougths from a poor
single mother yoga teacher
who will most likely have to give up
yoga teaching because
there simply isn’t enough value placed
on helping people awaken to their true nature,
breathe, relax and feel joy in the moment…
It’s much more important to
drive the cogs of the machine.
Thanks for listening.
Haven’t I suffered enough,
Or do you want to break me even more?
I feel like I’m already mostly dead.
Do you want me to die all the way?
I am a ghost in a body struggling to live
and it feels like a burden to eat.
And yet I must feed this body,
because there are two children
relying on me to be here for them…
and they deserve a living, breathing mother
who can help smooth their way through
this rocky journey of life.
Is enduring this pain the sacrifice I must make?
Is this torture of terror, uncertainty and homelessness
the very thing that’s making me strong
and ready to change?
But how can I change
when I lack the energy
to meet my most basic of needs?
When it feels like a burden to be alive,
how do I choose to keep living?
A teacher shared with me recently
that we humans live in a great paradox
of which we are innately aware
but which is so overwhelming
that it is the root cause
of our misery and all the behaviors
that arise from our misery.
The paradox is this:
Our consciousness is infinite
and yet our bodies are finite.
The awareness in us is as vast as the universe
and yet our tiny physical beings are fragile, vulnerable.
This paradox, and the tension it creates
is too much for many of us to bear.
And so we numb.
We get addicted.
We look outside, to escape
the tension orginating from the center of our being.
I have faced this paradox over and over
as I have watched my life dissolve
before my very eyes.
Everything I knew has been obliterated.
The consciousness in me can be at peace with this.
My body is terrified, suffering from complex PTSD.
Every day I dance on a fine line
between hope and hopelessness,
love and fear,
existence and non-existence,
infinity and limitation.
I can tell you, it’s a lonely place to dance.
Our brains are hardwired
for love, connection and belonging.
In the absence of these,
our system goes into
fight or flight.
I have been chronically isolated
for two years now.
Besides my children,
I have had no regular contact
with caring people.
I have been in fight or flight
for two years.
When your brain is in
fight or flight,
your human ability
to think and problem solve
by your reptilian impulse
to survive what is threatening you.
I have been operating
from my survival response
for two years now.
When you are in
fight or flight
for extended periods of time,
your system shuts down.
This is the burnout stage of stress.
I am burned out, traumatized
isolated, and terrified.
How am I supposed
to recreate my life in this state?
The struggle now
is between terror and peace.
Some days I wake up and feel fine.
Some days I wake up in terror.
There’s no rhyme or reason.
I just want to find home.
I want to create stability.
I’ve begun sending feelers out
in different directions;
I want to open multiple income streams.
I know I have talents and abilities,
but they’ve been buried deep within
for so long, it’s a process to uncover them.
It takes time to monetize one’s talents…
But I don’t have much time.
My eviction date is set for July 15.
I need to find a home.
How do I find a home
when I don’t have any money?
The people I thought were my friends
have all disappeared.
I guess that divorce, depression and eviction
are too inconvenient for normal, stable people.
What has happened in my life
that in my time of greatest need,
I look around, and no one is there?*
*Just wanted to acknowledge that there are people here who have been generous in expressing their concern…so I didn’t want to come across as ungrateful for that.
A deep and pervading sense of futility strikes.
Why keep struggling?
You’ve been fighting for two years.
Where has it gotten you?
All this hard work…
what has it amounted to?
People say they wish they could help,
but there is no follow through.
I’m learning that I would rather people say, “Gosh, that sucks. I’m sorry” rather than “I can help.” Public service announcement: Do not offer to help a single mother on the verge of eviction and then realize later that there is nothing you can do to help her.