February 20, 2012

I Hope Gwyneth Paltrow Loves My New Book. ~ Brian Leaf

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

I have been soliciting blurbs for my new book.

Who have I sent it to? You know, the usual suspects for a yoga memoir: Sharon Salzberg, Stephen Cope, Noah Levine, Ashton Kutcher, Gwyneth Paltrow, Adam Levine, etc.

And, of course, I shared the manuscript with a few friends and acquaintances.

I had been waiting for quite some time to hear back from these folks, and then finally, last Friday, I got an email from a friend…and…she hated the book. Hated it!

To be fair, I was a bit over-eager. I had sent out the manuscript before it was nicely bound with a cover, before it was copyedited, and well, actually, before I had even received comments from my editor.

Was this cavalier? Maybe!

Arrogant? Perhaps!

Unwise? Surely! Sending out a book as a pile of paper, before it is bound with a snazzy cover, is like announcing on Facebook the name for your in utero baby. People will tear the name to shreds. “Ezekiel? Are you loony?! Is he going to be born with three teeth and a banjo?”

But when you present young Ezekiel, squishy and freshly-birthed, even your nasty cousin Wilhelmina will say, “OhEzekiel, hewwwo wittle sweetie! Don’t you have the perfect name?!” And they will mean it. Just like a cut of meat, it is all about the plating.

So when I sent everyone a pile of papers, I was surely at a disadvantage.

But that is not the point.

For twenty-four hours after I received my friend’s feedback, I wanted to be dead. I sat with this energy for a torturous day and for one brutal night.

Until, in the morning, a fan on Facebook read my sample chapter and commented, “Wonderfully witty, warm, honest, raw. Thank you,” and another fan sent a message, “Love the sample chapter! I’d like to schedule you for a reading.”

But that, too, is not the point.

The point is: Can my sense of self-worth be so easily bought and sold? After some scathing criticism from a friend, I am on suicide watch, but two praising comments from readers turns me into Faulkner.

I think I can be a bit more grounded that that. The true point of yoga, after all, is to be grounded in my true nature, in my connection to God, not falsely identified with passing reflections, thoughts and ideas (or people’s opinions of me).

So, how can I identify with my true self and be less volatile to the judgments of others? I know the answer. Feel the love of God. Let it in. Open the door. Bathe in it.

I practice this every day. I picture God hugging me. I visualize her massaging my heart. I see him holding me like a baby. I take a nap on his chest.

Sometimes I forget how this feels, and I am adrift, haplessly identifying with and responding to the changing tides of my mind and the opinions of others. But at other times, I am in the love of God, and I am unshakeable. In that space, nothing can take me from bliss. Not a harsh word from a friend, not a positive review from Noah Levine, not even a doting email from Gwyneth Paltrow.

What do you do to stay grounded and connected to your source?

Brian Leaf is the author of Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi, coming to bookstores in September, 2012. You can follow him on Facebook.




Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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