Letting Life Work On You

Last week, so many of my students asked for a written version of the Tias Little quote from class, that I decided to include it in this week’s practice letter.

Tias is my teacher’s teacher, a curious, quirky, genius, and deeply devoted practitioner. I feel that kinship with him that we seek in peers, because we both draw from a wide range of studies when we teach: anatomy, literature, philosophy, Buddhism, ayurveda, injuries, chanting, and life experience. We are both driven to pursue this many-limbed path, to wake up, for ourselves, and all of you.

I want to share his words today, even though it’s a long excerpt, and hope you will enjoy this piece called The Miracle of Exposure:

“As the door to the temple swings open, and we feel more at peace and in place inside, we may look back on all the years we spent in hiding, concealing our own vitality. It is appalling the amount of energy we invest into trying to fit in, wanting to please and impress people. We spend a lifetime conforming to what others want from us and so live the life of a divided self. For God knows how long, we assume that this divided self is normal and that that is all there is.

Unbeknownst to ourselves, we may make an implicit agreement not to stand out, not to show our true colors, not to “step out of line.” It is funny how our own potency scares us, as if there is some alien entity lurking within. We shy away from the very thing that makes us unique, that gives us our sparkle. All too often, we choose security over risk and complacency over feeling alive. Hiding from our authentic self only makes us feel isolated and alone. This fits into the ego’s agenda, as the ego always fears exposure to the untamed, animating force within. If the fraudulent ego gets exposed, it will lose its grip and start to unravel.

How can we embrace the wild, spontaneous, kooky, unpredictable side of ourselves?  Each day we must put into practice a kind of exposure, to stand naked in front of the fire and allow ourselves to be seen. Like training the muscle memory to do a yoga pose, we “work-out” the raw, unguarded side of ourselves. We must make the simple, radical agreement to let the world open us, to let ourselves be revealed. The miracle of transformation always involves exposure, which is no doubt terrifying at first. But when the crack in our armor gets long enough and wide enough, we are willing to stand in the room unashamed of our signature self. This is harder than kicking up into handstand in the middle of the room, harder than skiing black diamonds. To be who you are requires letting go of who you think you should be, and that opens us up to the wide, fathomlessly deep true self.”

I just love the way he reminds us that
We All Feel This Way!!
We all hide
and hope to be loved
for the false self
we present.

If life blesses us
with friends and confidants,
they may get to see that bare yogi
standing before the fire,
if we can tolerate
the risk of being seen
and maybe, rejected. 

One way to tiptoe into tolerance for being seen,
is to practice being ourselves, even if just before ourselves.In Tias’ formula, we “let the world open us” – this opening is happening, regardless of our willingness.

The online shop will lose your order, your screen will go blank when you finally decide to register for the workshop, your friend will miss your text and therefore your date.

Those witnessing will ask, “Are you OK?”, and you diligently say, “yes.”, even though it’s a lie.

If we can we be self-loving enough to say, “No, I’m not OK right now.”, we can begin to open. Our ego has us so entranced in a spell of perfectionism, that we fear struggling or being witnessed misstepping. We deliver the avoidable, second dart of shame that overshadows the authentic feelings of the moment, which are those first, unavoidable darts: disappointment, frustration, sadness.

The threat of embarrassment can bloom like a cloud of tear gas, driving us to hike out of the woods, stoically, on a sprained ankle, or reabsorb tears, rather than reveal our vulnerabilities. This can be harder than any āsana, any display of physical fortitude.

It can be so surprising to begin peering out through the cracks our armor already has, to find the world actually already knows who we are! My brother recently gave me this tidbit of wisdom – with self-realization, we’re often the last one to know!

We’re the ones to befriend our vulnerabilities. When these parts feel accepted, the “spontaneous, kooky, unpredictable parts” can garner the courage to come forth and party!

This week, my beloved Rob Breszney
offered up this wisdom:We’re already living after the end of the world.
No need to fret anymore.
On the bright side, that means we are utterly free to reinvent ourselves.
Living amidst the emptiness, we have nowhere to go but up.What remains is alienating, but it is also fresh.

Working from the hypothesis that you’re living after the end of the world,
what are you free to do that you weren’t able to do before?
Who are you free to be?

Now you have full permission – let your goofy self dance and sing. Smile at the Fred Meyer cashiers, offer to buy a stranger’s coffee, wear mismatched socks. Maybe your kooky self wants to grow a long scraggly beard, or wear a super short skirt. Maybe it wants to cocoon alone for the winter holidays.

Give it your time and your love. Get ready to be enchanted by your “wide, fathomlessly, true, deep self.”