Warning: f-bombs ahead!
It all started so innocently, with a little bit of sitar music and a whole lot of Sanskrit chanting.
I was teaching a yoga class last week when, during the wind down to Savasana, it happened.
We’d been moving and flowing to Jimi Hendrix, keeping it bluesy and dancing with the breath when my favorite chanty music from Hindustani vocalist Sanjeev Abhyankar came on the playlist. It’s moody, and sublimely meditative.
What occurred to me was a major chakra shaker: I have no fucking clue what this guy is saying. It’s in a dead language from a place far away… He could be chanting for a huge earthquake to demolish Los Angeles for all I know.
Apparently, I had hit my own nerve. Hard. In that moment, I felt like a fake—an unoriginal teacher of nothing, ambushed by fear and self-consciousness, sprinkling in truisms from Patanjali’s Sutras in hopes of secretly talking myself off the ledge. A certain inauthenticity had washed over me like a bucket of pig’s blood on a prom queen, and I could almost sense the hot breath of Ganesh on my neck, whispering in my ear to knock it off, I suck and I should go home immediately.
After all. this is L.A.. You can’t swing a strand of mala beads in La La Land without smacking a few snake charmers selling salvation for a buck outside Trader Joe’s and on the corner of Hollywood and Vine.
The next day, I played “Disco Inferno” in class. The gods probably hate me.
I used to cheat at skee ball. Here’s the trick: put money in the machine, watch the balls come down, then put money in the machine in the lane right next to you. Instead of nine balls, you have 18. You don’t even have to be good at skee ball. You just keep playing and, if no one’s watching, you can even walk up there and put the ball into the 100-pointer yourself.
It was the only way to get enough tickets to buy what I wanted on the top shelf, including the light saber I wanted. I was never insecure about getting what I wanted; I was a 14-year-old chick in a pink crocheted bikini, and I knew what I was doing.
I had guts, and confidence. I used to get served in bars when I was 16. However…
Ever since that third-eye-opener in class last week, everything became a bit of a question mark. The yoga I love and it’s transformational power went from a lion’s roar to an echo. My little existential crisis had slapped me on the ass, and something shifted. Things come pretty easily to me, but this was a head scratcher.
In desperate need for a distraction, I came home and went to bed. It was 3:30 in the afternoon. And I let myself day dream about running around a sprawling field, one with bright red, fiery poppies with a sweet, distinctive scent and lengthy stems just taller than a four year old. And I I saw myself, young and barefoot, romping around with my dog, my tambourine in one hand and waving peace signs with the other.
It would probably be better if those little deadly poppies didn’t have the ability to lull me into a coma. Did you know they make heroin out of those flowers? Surrender, Dorothy!
But chasing the dragon just ain’t my style. But sometimes I feel like he’s chasing me, in a bizarre game of chicken to see if I’ll collapse first in an effort to find meaning in life, not to mention death, rebirth, yoga, love, relationships, illness, etc. It makes me feel lonely. And I’m still running in the field, but I’ve forgotten if I’m running away from anything, or towards something beautiful, something I don’t understand.
Is this the paradise inside I’m supposed connect with in search of enlightenment? I feel like I’m being tested on something I haven’t studied for.
I’ve heard it said “the truth is in between breaths.” This is not helpful.
Self doubt: not so fun. I’ll give you $20 bucks if you can help me figure out what the fuck is going on here. Is it the skee ball thing? Damn, if I knew my cheating ways would follow me this far in life, I may have thought twice about it. Knowing me, I’d go through with it anyway because back then, I was fearless. I’d leave my hat on the bed any day. They didn’t call me Dirty Annie for nothing. I’d be the first one who’d go upstairs to check the children, who may or may not have been butchered to death.
And now? It’s scary, I do believe in karma, and it’s gaining on us all, fast—like a rabid cheetah on the hunt for blood. Other truths: I believe Vegemite is digusting, but you should try it anyway. I desperately don’t want to believe in twerking, but I’ve seen it with my own two eyes; getting splashed in the face with acid would’ve been more pleasant. I still believe in the nuance and mystery of yoga, even though I may have taken a misstep here and there. And I believe nine balls are OK, but 18 are better.
I believe it’s the Bhagavad Gita. And Goodnight Moon.
I believe yoga can color it all happy and sticky sweet. I believe can be a maniacal, psychodelic ride down a river of chocolate with a mad man spouting sinister poetry at the helm. Don’t let it bother you—take the ride anyway, and report back. And in the end, I believe it can be dazzling, like a display of rainbow suckers at the candy store, and as mirthful as a maypole dance.
I believe in passion—red hot, messy, unfettered passion. I believe the first half of a massage is better than the second half. I’d like to buy the world a Coke. I believe there are no mistakes in life, except for the stupid tattoo on my ass, but it reminds me of a great time in my life in the early 90’s when I lived in San Francisco.
My Dad: “You got a tattoo?”
Me: “Well, yeah…”
My Dad: “Hope you know it’s permanent.”
Sigh… I miss my dad.
They say what you come looking for, you come looking with. Be my friend, let’s peel the onion together.
I believe something has been tap-tap-tapping on my shoulder for lifetimes, waiting for me to turn around already. Maybe I watch too many scary movies, but I really don’t want to come face to face with the grim reaper if he’s the one doing the tapping.
I believe I’d rather take a dare over a truth (which is undoubtedly probably part of the problem here).
In the end, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be to find my way out of the dramatic hole I had dug. I know myself.
Some species of poppies die after their first flowering. This is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard. Just like in life, keep your eyes open, or you’ll miss it.
If I could talk to myself at 14, I’d might not tell myself not to do the skee ball cheat. I don’t mind the karmic hit. And I’d hate to break my spirit, not to mention the blatent audacity and the boldness I’ll need in life. These are words I need to remember when I’m in Warrior Three.
Eventually, I moved on to Asteroids, still barefoot in my bikini.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see a poppy field. I Googled “poppy field los angeles,” and they all look far away.
I wrote almost this whole thing on cocktail napkins.
Someone told me once spiritual practice is like a faucet of running water. When you first turn it on, the pipes are rusty and the water comes out like sludge. But if you stick with it, eventually the water runs clear. It’s ain’t voodoo. And I’m pretty sure it’s not crop-circling, organ-havesting aliens coming to whisk you away, or gypsy women who possess extraordinary powers of mental telepathy telling you how special you are. I could’ve told you that.
So friends, pay no attention to that man behind that jeweled silk chiffon curtain. He doesn’t know shit. You’re not even warm.
It’s all going to be OK. Again: It’s all going to be OK.
I believe that once I get through this mind fuckery, it’ll make an appearance again in another form. C’mon, be brave and have a seat right up front with me for the next crisis. I’ll put you on the list. We can run through the poppies together. We can create our own revolution. Let’s all call in sick tomorrow, head to the mythical land called Shangri-La and get naked. You can leave your hat on.
“Many scarlet poppies blossomed all about across the meadows that were so brilliant in color they almost dazzled Dorothy’s eyes. “Aren’t they beautiful?” the girl asked, as she breathed in the spicy scent of the bright flowers.” ~ The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900)
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photos: Bhumika Bhatia at Flickr