Archive | October, 2006

Keep Me Where The Light Is

24 Oct

When I was maybe 3 or 4 years old, my Dad took me to Six Flags Great Adventure, and you had this option to drive in the regular way, or you could drive in through this Wild Safari complete with real live animals, so I’m sure to create some great adventure for his young daughter, my Dad chose the safari route. Only, when we were driving through, the animals didn’t really have a proper respect for boundaries, and these insane hyper monkeys starting jumping up and down, like crazy, as if they were purposely tormenting us, on the roof of my Dad’s very nice, very new car. Like I said, I was only 3 or 4, but I can imagine that my Dad, inside, was like: “Those Motherf*ckers!”

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In Buddhism it is called monkey mind. In yoga class they often refer to it as chita vritis. In Nathalie Goldberg’s book Writing Down the Bones she calls it “Something that creates busyness to keep us away from our true heart.” It is that constant discursive thought, the inner monologue that plays continually throughout the day and into the next. And my chita vritis can be crazy! Some days my mind will move, without rest, from worry to worry, to do to to do, stress to stress, concern to concern, until I fall asleep, and then start fresh as soon as my alarm goes off the next morning:

-“Why did I say/do/think/feel that?”

-“Where did I put that?”

-“What do I have to do next?”

-“What if (fill in the blank)?”

-“I’ll never (fill in blank).”

-“I don’t have enough (fill in the blank) to (fill in the blank).”

-“That was/this is/I am (insert negative word of your choosing here; usually some variation on the theme of “not enough”).”

Sound familiar?

Some days all I can think about them, inside, is: “Those Motherf*ckers!”

It has been pointed out to me that it is the mechanism, not the individual thought, that causes the problem. Like, it doesn’t so much matter what I thought I wrote on that Post-It that I have since lost that is probably something really important that I have to remember to do, that I have since completely forgotten. The object of stress is irrelevant; it is just a symptom of the overarching problem – the attachment to, or the habit of, being stressed, and focusing on what is wrong all the time.

There are moments when, walking around, I remember this, I remember that all I have to do is quiet my thoughts for a second and take in what’s around me, what’s happening in the present, and that this is enough. And in these brief moments, I have lost my breath at the overwhelming beauty of – life, the trees, the street, the people, the brownstones, the day – whatever is around and in front of and within me. I’m not sure why, but it can be so difficult to just bliss-out in the present and let go of worries, because that goes against what we are all accustomed to do, how we have been conditioned to live. It can scarily feel like free-falling to just enjoy what is, now, and acknowledge that it doesn’t matter what is on the Post-It, or where it is, and know that, if it is truly important, it will come back to me anyway when I need it. It can feel like that line in the movie American Beauty: “Sometimes there’s so much beauty in the world I feel like I can’t take it…and my heart is going to cave in.” It actually feels exactly like that.

Relating this back to John Mayer, as I promised, he has a song (on his fabulous new cd Continuum) called “Gravity”:

(Check it out on YouTube… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkHAfPEjP_E)

Gravity is working against me

And gravity wants to bring me down

Oh I’ll never know

What makes this man

With all the love

That his heart can stand

Dream of ways

To throw it all away…

…Wo-oh, gravity

Stay the hell away from me

Wo-oh, gravity

Has taken better men than me

How can that be?

Just keep me where the light is

Just keep me where the light is

At this point he repeats that line a whole bunch of times and this choir comes in ooo-ing and ahh-ing to emphasize his point. It is very dramatic.

Ever the English major, I can’t resist a good analysis and interpretation. Therefore, I take “gravity” to mean his monkey mind (would his non-monkey mind intentionally dream of ways to throw everything away?), and “the light” to mean that soft, calm, fuzzy, blissful, buoyant, airy, light space between thoughts, the place that your quiet mind, your true self, rests. This is the point of creation; a place to write from, and a place to live from.

I was in yoga class last week when the teacher was explaining oujai breath, the audible breathing practice used during asana practice. She said that it means “victorious breath,” which I had kind of assumed was so-named because it went with the “warrior” theme of the poses, but what she said was, it is so-named because what you want is something to focus on so intensely that you can have victory over your own thoughts.

This week, tell your monkeys to play nice, or even better, give them a Time Out, so you can have some peace, some quiet, some breath, some space, and some light. And then, even if just for a moment, you will be victorious.

Keepin’ it where the light is,

Jen

xoxoxoxoxo

 

Copyright © 2006 by Jennifer Garam.  All rights reserved.

 

Who The %^*$# Put That Brick There?!

17 Oct

Hey there!

 

Hope you are enjoying this fabulous fall, rainy weather and all! I am in still in O for October and (letting go of) Obstacles month, here are some updates…

 

I co-taught the very-first ever Releasing Obstacles Yoga & Writing Workshop last weekend with the incredible Robin Pickering and it was a great success! We spent the day with a truly phenomenal group of women yoga-ing and writing, and I even put my money where my mouth is and let go of an obstacle myself on-the-spot! I got up (and stayed up!) in headstand curl, my own affectionate term for that pre-headstand pose where you are balancing on your head and your legs are curled in. I have been practicing yoga for 8 1/2 years and have had a major fear of this pose the whole time! I remember early on in my yogic career hearing somebody say that it took them 5 years of practicing to get up in headstand, so I was like: “Cool, good to know, I have plenty of time,” and then I let myself off the hook for the next 8 1/2 years without really trying, and just opting instead to kind of make a show of rolling around on my head and killing time for a few minutes during the headstand portion of class, before resting in child’s pose. Phew. That resistance/avoidance thang is exhausting.

 

This is how it always went. Until last weekend. I was so excited I got (and stayed!) up, I was wiggling my toes the whole time like, “Look, Ma, no, er, feet!” hoping that the teacher (Robin) would see, since I was afraid to speak, thinking that any vocal vibrational frequencies might topple me over. Anyway, it wasn’t a fluke, and I have since repeated this feat, and these days you can find me, you know, hanging out upside-down balanced on my head and wiggling my toes whenever I get the chance…this of course can be some great metaphor for my life, which I am still in the process of narrowing down and figuring out…

 

And speaking of metaphors, I am taking a week off from the sub-theme of this month, which is John Mayer, but rest-assured I will return to him again next week unless some new, better inspiration (is this even possible???) crops up between now and then. This week, in sticking with the obstacle thang, and the metaphor thang, I am republishing a posting from my blog about a time I felt stuck…

 

Thanks for reading and HAPPY WRITING!!! Have a phenomenal week!!!

 

Lots of love!

 

Jen

See: “My Bathtub is a Metaphor for My Life” – Monday, August 21, 2006 (The title of this posting only makes sense when cross-referenced with that particular blog posting. And then it will all come together. I love when that happens…)

Copyright © 2006 by Jennifer Garam.  All rights reserved.

Waiting On The World To Change

2 Oct

I have been thinking a lot about obstacles lately. Ok. I’m always thinking about obstacles. Mainly because, those little suckers are usually the only thing standing between me and, well, my dreams. And in honor of the upcoming workshop that I am co-teaching about releasing obstacles, and because October starts with the letter ‘O’ as does ‘obstacles,’ I have decided that those pesky little dream-deferrers would make an excellent focus this month.

Let me preface this by saying that on September 12th, I got so excited about the release of Justin Timberlake’s new cd, and with good reason, but that this turn of events also had a downside, in that it overshadowed the release of another fantastic cd on that very same day – John Mayer’s Continuum. And let me further say that the first song on this cd is entitled “Waiting On The World To Change.” And for the purposes of this essay, I am going to (almost) entirely disregard his personal life, and focus solely on his talent, which I find to be ample and abundant, and his lyrics, which I find to be insightful and deep, often encapsulating a feeling I have experienced just so as to give me a gasp of an A-ha! Moment. An example of this is a lyric on track 2 where he plaintively inquires: “Who do you love? Me or the thought of me?” And can I just say that in that moment I was like: “Woah, Johnny, I’ve so been there! I’ve totally loved the thought of at least one man, and at least one man has totally loved the thought of me, and between us, me and said man, we couldn’t find a real him or a real me anywhere, and this of course, leads to problems in the relationship, more or less down the road.”

So I feel, on certain topics, John Mayer just gets it right, and listening to “Waiting On The World To Change,” I couldn’t help but think that this is one of those topics.

Here’s the thing: any spiritual guru will tell you that many if not most obstacles are self-created. Deepak Chopra, for instance, totally says this. Which can be annoying if you are trapped in the middle of what feels like infinite insurmountable obstacles and you’re like, “Duh, why would I do this to myself?” There are, of course, endless reasons, some explainable and some not, but the fact is, it happens.

Following are a mere few examples, a small sampling if you will, of obstacles that I may or may not have had more or less experience with: low self-esteem, negative self-talk, unhealthy relationships, lack of purpose, excessive and unnecessary drama, complaining, self-defeating patterns, habits of resistance/avoidance, perfectionism, obsession with tabloid journalism (major time-suck!)…the list goes on…and then, on top of that, attachment to any of the aforementioned items, which again, like: “Duh, why would I be in a bad situation and then get attached to it???” But you know, it happens. You may or may not have experienced anything like this. (Please note: ‘attachment’ is pretty much code for ‘obstacle.’ If you have an attachment to anything, it might as well come with its very own, personalized, customized, just-for-you obstacle course.)

Following is an example of one of my personal favorite self-created obstacles: I have wanted to teach writing for years, but at some point I made this decision that I couldn’t do it until I had a graduate degree and one of my plays was on Broadway and had potentially won a Pulitzer Prize. And a few years ago, I applied to some grad school programs, and I got rejected from all of them, so I was pretty much like: “Ok dream, it was nice knowing you. Thanks for all the memories…” On one of my rejection letters an admissions officer had even hand-drawn a smiley face and written something to the effect of “Don’t give up!”, which seemed to be moving in a more positve, cheerful direction as far as rejection letters go, but still, it was just that, and NOT acceptance.

A year post-rejection, I was having drinks with a friend one day and she was like: “Why don’t you teach writing?” And I was about to go into the litany of reasons why I couldn’t, but instead, I decided to do something radical, and just try it, Pulitzer-prizeless and lacking $100,000 in educational debt. I love it so much, and it turns out that my beloved obstacles weren’t as concrete as I believed them to be.

We can wait for the world to change, or wait for ourselves to change, or wait for our obstacles to disappear on their own, or we can do something. We can start something. We can create something simply by beginning it. We can pick one of our favorite, time-tested, self-created obstacles and just, fire it. Just for the month. And you can get it back next month if you decide things were better off with it, but I am guessing that this won’t be the case.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Happy Obstacle-Free October!

Lots of love!

Jen xoxoxoxo

 

Copyright © 2006 by Jennifer Garam. All rights reserved.