Today I feel as sweet as bubblegum pop from the aughts. I feel like stretching out on my belly and lipsyncing into a corded pink phone. Twisting my hair up into pigtails and calling it a vintage look. The kids will think it’s cool.
It’s time to let it go.
I was at a beautiful party last night, and got to chat with new and wonderful people. One woman was engrossed in listening to what I’m doing in my career, and then asked me a question I think we should all ask one another: “what have you done in the last few months that has really brought you joy?”
Oh! I love it! A chance to talk about things that light me up outside of careers, a chance to explore my value and interests outside of my job title. Well, of course, I dove into talking about hot yoga.
The woman immediately shut down. After I told her it was yoga in a 98-100 degree room, she excused herself from my table and went to one only a handful of feet away—to talk to other people about how hot yoga was a terrible idea within obvious earshot. To make fun of it, and to ask everyone around her if anyone in their right mind would do it.
Before she left my table, she even had the nerve to say to me, sarcastically and mockingly, “oh right, I bet it’s TRANSFORMED your life.” Bitch, please. Don’t make me feel bad for being a person who’s found something that has literally saved me from my worst self.
Building outwards, not upwards
It sparked a long conversation between my husband and I about how we hope we can approach beliefs and energies that challenge our own set ideas. So many people create a base for themselves and continue to build upwards on those ideas, and never think to sprawl a bit into other territories.
I wasn’t asking her to try hot yoga, or preaching to her how it would change her life, I was talking about my own experience with it. But when you only build upwards off of your experience, you put up all the defenses when a wandering idea sets foot in the outskirts of your mind’s little town. Instead of welcoming it into the fold and putting it nicely within your city limits or setting it off into the rural areas, you waste your energy on reacting aggressively.
And that’s what Victor and I talked about. We spoke about how much of a waste of energy it is to be close-minded. You wind up being angry and defensive, letting the actions and beliefs of other seep in under your skin. It’s such a waste.
There’s a much more easeful approach. If you don’t think hot yoga is for you, let it go. Let the conversation flow onward. I will not judge you, and we can all have a good time. By holding on to your personal negativity about something, you’re draining yourself of the only resources you truly have: time and energy.
On my end
All that being said, I’ve spent a bit of time since that conversation dwelling on it. But I’ve been working on making it constructive—thinking more about what I can do to combat that mindset in my own life or how I can protect my own heart from sabotages like that.
I’ve come up with a couple of things. First, a proactive approach to avoiding that pointless drainage, I will work on staying open. One of the things that we practice in yoga (hah, if you’re not tired of me talking about it yet) is to let thoughts happen, and to not cling to any of them. Don’t resist, don’t force, just let them flow through your consciousness without grasping on.
We can use this when we’re faced with beliefs that challenge us. Be thoughtful about them; don’t shut out new ideas, because there might be something that can advance your knowledge about the world around you. Let new words resonate in your mental caverns and maybe they’ll leave a few residual bits of useful information. Maybe they won’t, but at least you let them in.
There’s so much defensiveness with the political climate nowadays, and no one seems to even be listening to each other. If we were able to have a conversation, we’d find that plenty of us want the same things: freedom, safety, the right to the pursuit of happiness. Instead, we resort to attacking each other based on sweeping generalizations and weaponized notions about one another and building our walls even higher so no new ideas can come in and shape our mental landscape.
If I could boil this down into one sentence it would be this: Be a student, always.
I guarantee you will run into the proverbial hot yoga-mocker at some point in your life. Maybe he or she mocks your haircut, or your taste in music, or your religious beliefs, or your choice of pet without giving you the grace of an interactive conversation.
Unfortunately, you will have to spend some of your own energy to protect yourself from this. However, the more you’ve worked to know who you are and what works for you, the less energy you’ll have to waste on these pointless attacks. I know that I love my short hair, so I’ve become impervious to offensive and ignorant comments about how the length of my hair reflects on my worth as a woman.
If they refuse to hear you out, let that person be miserable or angry or jealous or an ignorant turd. That is their energy, and they’ll have to reckon with that turbulence when they see a new wrinkle popping up or when they’ve worked themselves up into a chaotic rush of negativity and can’t sleep at night. They’ll try to bring fire into your life, so don’t offer them your candles. Let them burn themselves.
All this being said, there are people you need to fight. I’m mostly talking about people who give you shit for liking something as crazy as hot yoga, but those who would willingly and gleefully do harm to others must be dealt with. Speak with them, arm yourself with knowledge and fight them, report them, cut them out of your life. This is worth your energy because it will lead to a better world for all of us.