When I was a child, my father would take my brother and I on long walks through cemeteries. We loved these walks-looking at the old tombstones and crypts trying to find the oldest one, admiring the statues overgrown with moss, fascinated with the beauty of it all. All the time, listening to my father (who is a history buff) explain what was happening at the time on the tombstones.
My father and I are both Geminis-a sign of the Twins. I’ve inherited this nature of duality, the ability to jump from one emotion to another-from a bright side to a darker one in a flash. And, I’ve spent years trying to suppress this nature of mine to feel the negative as strongly as I feel the positive, embarrassed when the dark side shows through.
This manifests in my yoga practice as well. I used to feel guilty about this. How can someone bring negative feelings into yoga?? Isn’t this the place where love and light beams from every person??
Sometimes, I’d drag myself to class prepared to put on my ‘happy face’, embarrassed to show the darkness I was feeling inside.
Luckily, I have amazing teachers and fellow yogis. One day, my friend and I walked to yoga and literally bitched the whole way. Bitched about how expensive SF is, how filthy the streets are in Polk Gulch, how there are no men (at least any ones worth dating!), bitch, bitch, bitch……
So, when I got to the studio and the bubbly, amazing teacher (whom I’ve known for 5 years now) approached me and exclaimed “How are you today???” I couldn’t help but admit “Really, really shitty actually”
My experienced teacher didn’t miss a beat – “Well, let’s see what we can do about that” and proceeded to teach a kick-ass noon class. I cried as much as I sweated as I allowed the feelings of loss and anger and disappointment flow through me. And, afterwards, I felt redeemed.
So, maybe as a dualistic Gemini who resides in the dark as much as in the light, I need to wallow in it sometimes. Maybe my nature is not to be the bubbly yogini but the one grounded in reality. As much as I’d love to drift through life only seeing the rose and not the thorn, that’s just not me.
Last night in yoga we chanted to Durga, the fierce Mother goddess. She’s not all flowery like Lakshmi nor blindly devoted in her love like Radha. Durga is a kick-ass woman holding a bow and arrow in one hand indicating her control over both aspects of energy-potential and kinetic. She’s also holding a lotus or ‘pankaja’ which means ‘born of mud’. Literally, the lotus thrives in the shit filled water of the Ganges. This signifies hope and shows that even in the ugliness of life, beauty can be born.
So, yes, I’m the kind of yogi who walks through cemeteries, lights things on fire and spins them around. I’m the kind who is just as cynical as any New Yorker and more sharp tongued than I should be sometimes. I’m working on these things everyday.
But, just as there is no birth without dying and no Radha without Durga there is no ‘good’ me without a touch of ‘bad’.
Maybe it’s no surprise that I’m shopping around for the perfect tattoo of a Lotus in the hopes that the beauty shines through the muck-looking for a design where the bright color shines through in the hope I can do so as well.