Friday, April 30, 2010

Yoga and Cigarettes


The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.
Carl Rogers

...there’s a yoga teacher who comes to the rehab one morning a week...8:15...I’ve never met her...other mornings, a few of the women practice on their own, in an outbuilding...I see them heading out with yoga mats and packs of smokes...time for yoga and cigarettes? I ask...they smile, say we have coffee, too...

...been trying for a while to get my mom to do yoga...it’s kinda turned into a routine...

mom: god, am I stiff...
me: yoga could help with that...
mom: grumble grumble grumble...

...stress that I’m not even talking about going to a class...with somebody at the front of the room telling everybody what to do...she’s 83 and can afford private sessions...pointed out that I know a buncha really great yoga teachers who could sit down with her, ask what she needs help with, and make suggestions...grumble grumble grumble...

...then, being difficult kinda runs in the family...and, truth be told, there are lots of reasons I practice yoga, but because other people think I should ain’t one of ‘em...

...Tara Brach talks about something called the trance of unworthiness...seeing everything through a lens of something’s wrong with me....at one point in Radical Acceptance, there’s a list of thirty or so questions...do I think I’m not _______ enough? Do I judge myself for _______? Do I think I’m too _____?...that kinda stuff.. and I winced while answering yes to pretty much everything but do I think I’m too skinny?...fortunately, there wasn’t one that said do I think I’m a complete idiot for trying to remove ice from the freezer with a knife?...that’d hit too close to home...a home that doesn’t currently have a functioning refrigerator...

We can’t honestly accept an experience unless we see clearly what we are accepting.
Tara Brach

...what it comes down to, I think, isn’t that we can’t or shouldn’t try to change anything...the future is unknown...and, to some extent, ours to shape...but it’s awfully hard to do that if we can’t look clearly, calmly, and compassionately at what's happening in the present...whether self loathing and damaged appliances, loved ones not putting as much effort into raging against the dying of the light as we’d like, or yoga with cigarettes...

26 comments:

Linda-Sama said...

Carl Rogers and Tara Brach are both wonderful. I use Rogers' quote "the most pain avoiding person has the least amount of joy" in my dharma talks all the time.

Brooks Hall said...

Jay, do you think that your Mom would be open to you teaching her a few things? You could alway consult with a yoga teacher friend about what to do...

Emma said...

stress will kill you before cigarettes do. which includes being ill at ease with the present, no?

Bossy Betty said...

Lots to think about here. Love the quote from Tara Branch!

timethief said...

Hy! Emma stole my line. :(

Sashindoubutsu said...

Interesting post. Nice one from Tara!^^

the walking man said...

I could float my entire life on a list of things to be worried over but then it certainly would be a stormy ass sea I floated the thing on.

What does the yoga practitioner think about the whole "*shrug* fuck it" attitude? Not that I am really that curious, because like my cigarettes, I too have coffee to go with them and after seven fused vertebrae I do believe my days of flexibility are well beyond me now.

Elize said...

'loved ones not putting as much effort into raging against the dying of the light as we'd like...'

hard stuff.

really good thought-pausing post. thank you.

Silliyak said...

My mom de iced the freezer with an ice pick for many many years, until....well, by then it was time for a new fridge anyway.

Melinda said...

Well, I do think there is truth to the notion that we should not try to change other people--because that never works. We cannot change anyone to fit our definition of what is successful (interesting because I just read another blog post that looked at that). You might be very well right that yoga would help your mom's aches and pains--but some people prefer to have something to grumble about rather than a solution that will help :-).

I do think that each of us, though, should constantly work toward change--change for the better. But of course, that change has to come from within--or it will never work. In the end, we either need to accept ourselves as we are--or work to change those things we cannot accept. But then, I won't go into the entire serentiy prayer here! :-)

Melinda

earthtoholly said...

Ha! Hopefully as the ladies get more into their yoga, they'll find less of a need for the smokes. Having at one time *ahem* overlapped detrimental habits with my biking, I kinda understand that...not to say I have any idea what these women have been through.

Although too convoluted to go into here (and even on the blog, I sometimes think), my mom and I have similar conversations. I suggest stuff she might try to help herself and she resists. In her case, she has a lot of health stuff going on, so helping herself is really her only option, as the pills can only do so much, however...

I would possibly have similar results on that test, but...you stabbed your freezer? Holy cow, drjay, get yerself one of them newfangled frost-free ones. I think they've been around for like...the last 40 years! :o)

Rinkly Rimes said...

The archway adds a great framing dimension.

sukipoet said...

at 83, I can understand your mom being reluctant to try something new. Not that a person can't learn something new at any age, but sometimes the desire to do so wanes.

I spent a bit of time telling my extremely anxious sister in law who by the way smoked (and has since died) about how yoga might help her out. But she just looked at me like I wasnt there.

In a way, it seems to me that either you are drawn to yoga or you are not. I used to watch Maggie Letvin on tv out of Boston doing yoga, and also talking about food and healthy living. This was years before I ever actually tried a yoga class. I also remember my first yoga class. I was nervous and the teacher taught Bikram's style (I thought that was what yoga was until i changed to an Iyengar Style teacher) but I loved it immediately from the very first pose I did. It is odd, as I do not like sports or many physical activities other than walking, I dont like to play games with balls etc. But yoga, how i wish I'd found it sooner. I wonder what it is that makes it so delicious for some, but a matter of indifference to others?

Laura Hegfield said...

"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change." Pretty much says it all...now if only we could take those words in and radically accept ourselves...it would be so much easier to accept everyone else!

Bob Weisenberg said...

Profound blog, Jay.

Sound like my father. He did Yoga, but he refused to go to a class and wanted to just learn from the book. http://bit.ly/8BhQr1

Come to think about it, that sounds just like me. Like father, like son.

"Gita Talk" starts tomorrow. I feel like I'm having a party. 200 people have said they're coming. But will anyone really show up? And will they talk to each other when they do?

Your Republican blog on Elephant http://bit.ly/dtRUZZ is beyond great!

Bob Weisenberg
ElephantJournal.com

Kim said...

This post really hit home for me. I don't have a real response, but thank you for writing it.

Bob Weisenberg said...

Kim, Welcome to the club. I once wrote, in response to a brilliant YogaforCynics blog:

"I have absolutely nothing to say except "Bravo". Your blog has left me uncharacteristically speechless."

Bob Weisenberg
ElephantJournal.com

Kitty said...

Nice work professor. My root teacher says "smoking (or anything else) won't get in the way of your yoga practice, but soon yoga will get in the way of your smoking practice." I tell the people who come to my class who are ashamed of their habit(s), "So what? You're not smoking right now, and now is what matters."

preacherlady said...

Yoga and cigarettes is better than cigarettes and no Yoga. Sooner or later, the cigarettes will go...or not.

Marcelo Marques said...

Parabéns pelo blog, lindo, espero tê-lo nos seguindo, se puder me deixe atualizado sobre as suas postagens.M.M.C

www.teologiadaaplicabilidade.blogspot.com

It's A Yoga Thang said...

The brave are those who can accept what is true and then there is freedom to follow. Great post.

Lydia said...

...but it’s awfully hard to do that if we can’t look clearly, calmly, and compassionately at what's happening in the present... That really hit home, Jay. I'll be quoting it on Sunday, most likely.

Yoga and cigarettes....nix.

Bob Weisenberg said...

I agree, Lydia, that's a great one. In my eBook, searching for a summary, I wrote:

Just relax, breathe deeply, and experience each moment, non-judgmentally, as it’s happening, no matter what is happening. That’s a summary of 5,000 years of Yoga wisdom in a single sentence.

(Yoga Demystified)

Women's emotional health said...

Thanks so much for fastidious blog entries and providing such advantageous information.

WR said...

Yoga and cigarettes. Well, at least there is the yoga. It offers a moment when a light might seep in...before the butane lighter works it emotion deadening magic.

I drink coffee and savor it. Do these things fall into good and bad categories? I don't know. Something to fret about if one is given to do rather than facing the present moment perhaps?

My son mentions yoga in sincere efforts to encourage healthier behavior. Hmmm..."grunble, grumble"

Hope we all hear from you again soon. I think writing crap is okay if it gets you where to need to go. There, that's kind recommending yoga for stiff joints. :-)

Jaliya said...

Isn't it funny that I read this post today ... on the tail end of yet another promise to myself that *today* I will lie myself down and begin my yoga practice (again).

KItty's words, "...soon yoga will get in the way of your smoking practice." I love it! To see these two practices (one very healthy and life-enhancing, the other not) along one continuum offers a radical new perspective. I'm going to remember this!

Thank you ... It's all about the acceptance, isn't it ... We can't move on from anything unless we accept its presence ... Only then can we move into change.