May 1, 2020
It’s ok not to be ok.
It’s ok to be thriving.
It’s ok to feel overwhelmed.
It’s ok to be enjoying this time.
It’s ok to be scared.
It’s ok to be angry.
It’s ok to feel hopeful.
There is no right way to feel. There is no wrong way to feel.
But, today I really want to highlight that it is ok not to be ok.
Now, can we engage in a more nuanced dialogue? Is that possible today?
Here's what's coming up for me this week and this is simply an invitation to join me as I process what I'm feeling in this very complicated time.
As a yoga teacher and yoga health coach I am steeped in the world of wellness. And make no mistake this is a $4.2 trillion industry. Just like any other industry we are being sold something. Some of it is useful, some of it is bullshit, just like anything.
I have always been very, very skeptical of ideas like the law of attraction. It's not that I don't believe in the the power of our thoughts. I do. But, there is often a lack of critical analysis in many of these messages. And it conveniently allows those of us with proximity to power and privilege to ignore systems of oppression and blame individuals for their struggles, rather than try to change the systems that created these struggles in the first place.
If they (or you, or me) would only...eat better, move more, practice this or that they wouldn't have that problem.
Of course, I believe there is truth to the fact that many people could be making better choices about how they live. I know that there is so much I have control over when it comes to my own health and wellbeing. I have made enormous changes in my life. It can be extremely disempowering to believe otherwise. I am health coach...so I obviously believe we are capable of improving our health and wellbeing through many different choices. For me, it's been the practices of yoga and Ayurveda. I teach it. I believe in it. I know it works...for me.
But, these messages also let me off the hook for the ways in which I might be complicit in a toxic system that allows me, a white, middle class US American to have the lifestyle that I want at the expense of so many people and our planet. And COVID-19 is exposing this more than ever.
And so today I say without guilt or feelings of inadequacy...I am not ok.
I am sad. Really, really sad.
I am sad about the giant divide that we continue to create. I am sad that individualism and capitalism seem to take precedence over caring for one another. The idea that I am entitled to the lifestyle that I want regardless of who gets hurt or who has to die is a very real US American value (and a value of other colonial powers). It is ingrained in our DNA. It is also in deep relationship with White Supremacy.
I am sad that I have family who are sick and we can't be with them. I am sad that the systems we have created in this country are killing people, and have been long before this pandemic, disproportionately. I am sad those who are most impacted are erased, ignored, invisible, disposable. I am sad that the people who are caring for the sick, stocking the shelves at our grocery stores, driving the delivery trucks so that we can continue to buy and consume are being called heroes, but still not making a livable wage and most do not even have access to adequate healthcare. And these are the lives that are being 'traded' so that we can all get back to work...or at least someone can so that we can continue to live the lifestyle that we desire.
Now when I am being told, either explicitly or implicitly that I shouldn't focus on the negative and look for the positive all the time it allows me, and so many others to continue to look away as long as these systems are not impacting me directly.
Good vibes only. Love and light. What you think you become.
Perpetuating the message of positivity over everything and telling people not let the negative in can be extremely harmful.
Or the belief that we are all one without acknowledging the disparities that exist and the ideologies that create separation. How easy it is for many of us sitting at the center of privilege to say and do. This is spiritual bypass.
Here is what I think. It is normal to feel grief, anger, even rage in the face of oppression, loss and death. Feeling this does not make a person any less spiritual or weak.
When we suppress these emotions because we have been given the message that we are somehow failing in our spiritual journey, or not doing something right we are engaging in spiritual bypass. When we are told by the wellness industry that our problems are created by our thoughts this ignores the very real systemic issues that so many are facing everyday. When we ignore the very real emotions that are part of the human experience we are causing harm, both to our own bodies and to others.
And so, whatever you are feeling today know that it is part of being human. Greet that feeling with deep compassion. And always stay curious.
One more thing.
Listen, I get that people want to be neutral. Love and light. It's so much easier and it's a privilege that many don't have. Choosing to buy into the narrative of niceness so that I seem professional or don't offend someone is choosing to keep certain people comfortable, those people are almost always white people. Many remain silent and ignore these very real emotions and very real systems of separation in order to create a 'safe space' (myself included). But, I ask you to consider this...a safe space for whom?
And if you are thriving right now that's ok too. Perhaps with your abundance of energy and time you might be better equipped to be of service to the whole. If you are thriving right now and you feel resourced I urge you to take a pause and if you haven't already try see the impact that this crisis is having on so many people and give your love, money, energy, time. And when you are grieving those of us who are thriving will step in for you.
Thank you for entering into this process with me.
Other Blog Posts
Nov 12, 2020
How do we build revolutionary resilience? A resilience that will not only lead us to cope with our everyday stressors, but to create a world of compassion, justice, and connection. A new way of being together. Because we have work to do and we must keep going.
Nov 6, 2020
Our yoga practice gives us the tools to hold this paradox. It helps us build resilience and the skills to cope with the discomfort of the both...and. A heart made of love and and a back made of courage.
Oct 7, 2020
If we learn to not get so lost in anger but rather to mine its energy, we begin to act less out of a desperate need to assume control. We are able to act out of a determined, courageous marshaling of our resources to try to make a difference.” So, feel it. Move it. And channel it into action.