the one word that defines us all

We love labeling things. I’m optimistic. She’s kind-hearted. Pizza is bad. Kale is good. We perceive the world through lists of arbitrary adjectives. The problem with labeling objects and people, however, is our inability to cope when those labels are no longer appropriate.

But what happens when we stop being “x, y, z”? Who are we when we’re not “who we’re supposed to be” ? What happens when we get pissed off after getting a flat tire and aren’t feeling especially calm and optimistic? We feel guilty. We feel like we’re betraying our identities. So how do we avoid this? Simple. Stop clinging to identifies…

Well, except for one.

The great unifier.

A conception of self that will remain consistent whoever we are, wherever we are.

Authenticity.

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Instead of labeling ourselves and clinging to characteristics that are prone to change, what if we simply identified ourselves as being present and connected to our authentic selves.

An authentic self that is subject to change dependent on internal and external circumstances.

All aspects of life (including life itself) are prone to impermanence. Everything changes. Our bodies, our minds. They can change over time, or they can change within a matter of seconds. This is scary as hell, but reaffirming in away. Because of the law of impermanence, we’re not confined by any of who we have to be. We change, we adapt, we grow, we suffer, we smile. Our world can, and will be rocked without warning.

Pain is temporary, though it’s hard to see that in the moment.

Pleasure is temporary too, which is hard to come to terms with.

The only way to eliminate hardship from the pain vs. pleasure equation is when we accept both emotions as they are, in the moment, and release our inherit desire to prolong or eliminate them.

This is the key to being authentic.

When we’re no longer hyper-aware of how we should be feeling in moments of pleasure or pain, and allow ourselves to be honest with our mental and spiritual energy at that present moment, we’re totally vibing with the most authentic version of ourselves.

There’s a degree of satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from relinquishing the facade of who we think we should be, and allowing who we are to shine.

and if people aren’t cool with that, screw ‘em.

Be you.

Be authentic.

Get mad.

Get happy.

Laugh. cry. fall in love. get your heart broken. Eat donuts. Eat salad. Go for a run. Binge-watch an entire series on Netflix. As long as you’re being honest with your authentic desires at any given point and not clinging to arbitrary outcomes of those desires, you’re perfect.

 

When yoga stops being about kale chips

When I first started getting in to yoga, I was convinced that I needed to surrender all of my “dirty” habits in order to be a real yogini. I found myself perpetually biting my lip to avoid cursing, being hyper aware of only eating “clean” unprocessed foods, and spending all of my free time browsing the web for kale chip recipes. I hate kale. Despite having a closet filled with painfully trendy tops, my daily attire consisted of yoga pants and neon colored headbands. I felt like in order to truly be a zen goddess I essentially had to strip myself of everything that made me, me: vulgar humor, fashion, good food. I didn’t think that these traits were compatible with the yoga life ( <– reality show just waiting to happen? ). Then I discovered that the only requirements for being a yogini were being the most honest and authentic version of yourself. K, I can do that.

Coming to terms with the fact that I could rock obnoxious statement necklaces and rationalize eating chocolate cake that didn’t require spinach as a secret ingredient made me fall even more in love with my practice. My mat became a place where I could be me. I could fall. I could cry. I could wear my favorite tye die tank top from 8th grade sleep away camp. It didn’t matter, as long as I remained connected to my natural spirit.

My practice is rooted in the following principles:

  • I am purposeful
  • I am unique
  • I am imperfect
  • I am strong
  • I am willing to challenge myself (physical and mentally)
  • I am peace
  • I am optimistic
  • I am vulnerable
  • I am patient with myself and others
  • I am uninhibited.

Despite what I choose to wear, eat, say, etc. as long as all of my actions support these principles, I’m a total yoga bad ass.

Have you ever felt as though you were limited by self-imposed or societal stereotypes? Discuss!