After watching Her this week, I rode in an elevator to the parking garage with a couple of fellow moviegoers. The woman’s pregnant belly protruded from her long winter coat, and they had rings on their left hands.
“What did you think?” she asked him as the doors closed and we started to descend.
“It was slow,” he said. “What a boring job for those actors, acting by themselves most of the time!”
We reached our floor and all got out together, me rushing out of earshot so they didn’t further color my experience of the movie.
I had thought the film neither slow nor boring. Found it artistic and moving. I cried during scenes where no one else was crying and laughed when no one else was laughing. I didn’t feel self-conscious about this; I felt alive and understood by a big screen.
Of course, my current life situation gave me context that the couple didn’t have. I am living the heartbreak that comes from taking an unexpected detour in a long-term relationship.
What we give, we get
Seeing Her reminded me that every day we create an artificial world of assumptions, expectations, hopes, desires. We are unearthed and uprooted by decisions and opinions that are made for us or about us. We buy into the popular story that life is difficult and that relationships inevitably fail.
In the crawlspace of our superficial ego, we allow fear to rule. What if I open myself back up and get hurt again? What if I don’t and lose my opportunity to feel love?
As much as I (and you) hate hurting, the idea of a life without being loved and loving in return is far more excruciating. Ironic that two weeks ago I checked out A Return to Love from the library? The following sums up the decision to keep loving.
“What we give to others, we give to ourselves. What we withhold from others, we withhold from ourselves. In any moment when we choose fear instead of love, we deny ourselves the experience of Paradise.” -Marianne Williamson
The fall is necessary
Yesterday in yoga class, I fell repeatedly in Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose. I aligned my body all the necessary ways to support the pose, but it wasn’t enough to stay balanced. I was in the front row losing my foundation over and over because my mind was everywhere except on my yoga mat.
Then, my ego reared up: I noticed no one else was falling. As a teacher, I’d usually make a comment here, “Don’t worry — everyone has bad balance days! It’s all a practice.” I wanted to be reaffirmed publicly that I was just finding my “edge” so I could feel better about my pose.
Now I wonder, does this need to be said? When I teach, who am I helping by coloring others’ experiences of falling and getting back up — by telling them that there is a bad and good day for balance?
The fall cannot be rushed through to get back to the pose. It’s a transition in itself. It’s as necessary as the pose itself. Sometimes, it’s a wake up call to snap back into the present.
The 3 ideas
When we’re facing a big life transition or heartache that makes us constantly feel as if we’re falling, I’ve found it helpful to immediately put the following into practice:
1. Feel everything and often.
Do not censor your emotions or your words for fear of being seen, heard or exposed. This is the time to expose everything, to cry it out, to punch pillows, to write feverishly things that no one but you will read. Get it all out so it doesn’t take up residence in your body.
2. Rethink the moping period.
We think we have to go through a long mourning or misery in order to emerge happy. Nevermind that! Bring back balance by acknowledging the happy moments despite the misery. For me, this is being around my Willow dog; treating myself to yummy food; getting lost in good stories and music; paying for a stranger’s appetizer next to me in the bar.
3. Know that you have not always felt this way, and you will not always feel this way.
For this, I bring you one of my favorite parts from Her:
“THEODORE: Sometimes I think I’ve felt everything I’m ever gonna feel, and from here on out I’m not going to feel anything new, just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.
SAMANTHA (Sympathetically.) I know for a fact that’s not true. I’ve seen you feel joy, I’ve seen you marvel at things. You just might not see it at this exact time, but that’s understandable. You’ve been through a lot lately. You’ve lost a part of yourself.”
Deep breath, say the mantra with me: “Everything is going to be okay because where I am right now is exactly where I need to be.”
Try it: Extended Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose, Utthita Hasta Pandangustasana
We so easily become champions for others, yet not for ourselves when we really need it. If you fall in this pose, come back to a deep breath. Stay with the breath right in this moment. Only then, try again.
- Standing in Mountain Pose, Tadasana, shift the weight into your right leg. Lift the knee cap and steady the big toe mound into the mat. Bring your hands to your hips and find one point of unmoving focus in front of you.
- Inhale the left knee up to your chest, and reach for the outside of the left foot. You may also choose to loop a strap around the foot here and hold onto the strap instead. Press the left outer thigh in to root strongly into the standing leg.
- On an inhale, press your foot into the hand and gently guide your leg out to the left. If you begin to hunch, keep the knee bent. If the leg opens easily, maintain a soft bend in both knees.
- Lift your lower ribs up to grow the chest tall. Take the right hand out to the opposite side for balance or simply expansion. Breathe deeply and evenly, holding for five breaths if available.
- To come out, place your right hand on your hip, bend the knee back in and release the foot to the ground.