Where do you want YOUR neuropathways to lead to?

It is a scientific, biological fact that once you have experienced depression that you are more likely to fall into a depression again.  This is because our brains  (well, hopefully not YOURS, I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone!) develop a neuropathway towards it…and, once established, our neurons are more likely to take a road more travelled. 

Where are you thinking to?

I believe that this is true of any  thought pattern we engage in throughout life.  If I live my whole life thinking, oh…let’s say that I’m undeserving of what I want, I will probably find myself in situation after situation after situation after situation after situation (shall I continue here?!) after situation, (lol) of letting myself fall by the wayside.  I mean, I don’t deserve that type of relationship, or job, or friend, or money, or happiness, or whatever. 

I’m going to share something really personal with all of you…(but don’t get used to it!)  I had a breakthrough in therapy the other day (in case you didn’t guess from my last blog that yes, not only do I see a therapist–who is totally awesome by the way, but at least one of my parents is in fact, a bona fide crazy person…guess which one and you could win a prize!)  I realized that I do deserve the things I want…and, not only do I deserve them, but what I want is by no means irrational or unreasonable. 

One might ask, “Hey, Julie…how did you manage to create a new way of thinking for your brain?”  Great question, hypothetical person who is very interested in what I have to say!  I have been spending a lot of time and energy analyzing my behaviors.  Every action I take has a thought behind it.  Actually, it probably has many thoughts.  Which is why it’s helpful to see a therapist…someone who is paying attention to what I’m saying and asking questions that I might not think (or want) to ask.  So, I have been analyzing all my actions to figure out the thought processes behind it.  Once I’ve figured out the thought patterns, I work to trace these back to their origins.  How did I learn this?  And better yet, once I’ve identified these parts, I can ask myself the most difficult questions:  Is this thought agreeable with who I am, and if not, What exactly IS?  PRESTO!  There you have it.  (Not  nearly as easy as typing ‘presto’ in all caps…but you get the idea.) 

Here is what I did not do (or what I did do, but soon realized that it wouldn’t work):  I did not look for an easy way out.  I did not look outside myself for an answer.  (There is none to be found.)  Not any type of medication, or relationship or person or energy work is going to fix the way I think and therefore act.  That has to be done by myself only.  I’m sorry if I burst any bubbles out there.  But hey, if you think Zoloft or Reiki or a new boyfriend will make you think and behave differently, keep on trying.  I know I had to learn it for myself…no one could’ve told me otherwise because when I was engaged in that stuff, I was not ready to listen.     

So, what exactly does this mean?  Well, if you can picture me sitting in a

It was just like this--except we are both women, and I was crying...and my body was more limp than this guy's.

chair,crying while saying, “You know what, Whitney?  I DO deserve to be happy.  To be treated wholly by another, to give and to receive!”  (Okay, so when I was talking to her I was way more specific about what I actually deserve…but that’s a little TOO personal for me to share on the internet!)  If you are really curious, ask me and I may or may not answer you.  But I will like you just the same.  

Oh yeah, (I hope you enjoyed the picture I just painted for you) so this means that I have now formed a BRAND NEW neuropathway in my brain!  Yessss!  But, just because it’s there, doesn’t mean I will take it all the time.  It is just a baby pathway.  The other route has almost 28 years of travel…which means that it’s still a lot stronger than the other.  So chances are, that, even though I’ve developed this new route, I will still accidentally follow the road I don’t want to travel.  This is to be expected.  But now, I don’t have to be so harsh on myself…because this is simply biology.  It’s the way our bodies and brains are made up.  And, if I keep paying extra special attention to what I’m doing and how I’m doing it, I can travel the new road more and more often (even though it seems foreign and awkward and I might not want to all the time) until it gets stronger than the old way. 

I think that one day, instead of being like work, it will simply BE that way!  OH, how exciting!

How to make a connection with another human being

I think that in order to better understand HOW to make a connection, we first need to know how NOT to make a connection.  So, here it goes:

How to not make a connection:

1)  Avoid talking about yourself in any sort of meaningful way.  Wait, do you know what’s not meaningful?  I can help you with that.  Talk about the weather, musical taste, friends, what kind of booze you like to drink…basically, talk about anything you like, but leave out the “Why” part of it.  Once you start talking about why…it gives a little more insight into who you are as a person.

2)  Don’t ask the other person any kind of meaningful question.  This is pretty similar to the first one.  But, definitely do NOT ask questions about the person you are talking to.  If he/she answers a meaningful question, you will probably feel obligated to release some meaningful information about yourself…and then you will have connected to another human being.  (Which is what we’re trying not do here in this part of my blog entry.) 

3)  Make sure that the activities you engage in don’t really matter.  Like drinking or watching a movie.  It doesn’t really matter who you do these things with…you can enjoy them by yourself too…it just so happens that someone else is participating in these activities.

Ok, this is all I can think of for now…maybe I will make another post later if I come up with more stuff.  So, onto the important thing:

How to make a connection:

1)  Talk about yourself in a meaningful way.  It’s OK!  We all came from somewhere.  And, chances are that we have more in common with each other than we thought.  I’m not saying tell your entire tragic life story filled with violence and regret and loser-dom in one sitting.  Well, do that if you DON’T WANT to make a connection…because the other person probably won’t want to talk to you again.  I know I wouldn’t. 

But, it can be perfectly safe to mention that your parents are crazy or that you see a therapist 3 times a week.  (Make sure you feel out the other person first though.)

2)  Don’t be shy!  Ask questions.  If you are genuinely interested in why the other person does something a certain way or why they think “THAT,” go ahead and ask.  One of three things will happen:  He/she will either  1) lie so you like them/don’t like them, 2) say they don’t feel comfortable divulging the information, or, 3) they will tell you the truth.

3)  Your best bet is to maintain honesty while engaged with someone else.  Whether it be a conversation, the way you look, what you like to do, etc. 

4)  Make sure that when you are interacting with someone, that you are OK.  Meaning that you are relating to THAT person…(not your ex, not your daddy, not your child, etc…)  And, if you are not relating to THAT person as themself, just check yourself!  It’s not the end of the world…and infact, you are making an even more important connection if you are aware of that, and that is the connection with yourself.

No means no, right?

Saying “No” is one of the most empowering things I’ve learned to do–actually, “No thank you” is more my style.  But just because I’m polite doesn’t make my “No” more of a “Maybe” or a “Yes.”   (Despite popular belief.)

 

My favorite situations to employ this powerful word:

1)  I’m very flattered, but NO, I do not give out my number when I work at the night club…mostly because there is a pretty good chance that if you are not an alcoholic, you are a creep.

2)  Thanks, but NO, I do not want a hug from you right now.  When I’m upset or sad, I prefer to be hugged by people who actually care about me…like friends and some family members (c’mon…we all have that aunt or uncle or cousin we wouldn’t want touching us with a ten-foot pole).  Or I only want hugs from people I know.  Just because we practiced yoga together once doesn’t mean I KNOW YOU, okay?

3)  Umm…NO, I don’t want to attend a workshop called “Penetration.”  That’s something I like to do in private…not infront of my Kula.  But thanks for the invite.  (Maybe you want to come to my penetration workshop later tonight at my place…say nine o’clock or so, hmmm??)

4)  NO, I don’t like you and therefore do NOT want to hang out.  But I do like that you like me.  Wait…you still like me, right?  NO?  You mean, I have to hang out with you so you’ll like me?  I guess I can’t win ’em all.

5)  Beer?  Gross, NO thanks!  But if you have Cabernet or vodka, I will have one of those.

Tell me, what is YOUR favorite situation to say “NO” to?

Namas-uck-my-dick-te

There have been and still are, in fact, plenty of people who think they know what’s best for me and my growth (and yours as well).  When I was a child, this sort of bossiness was okay.  I mean, I couldn’t really understand how eating peas was good for me…they tasted so nasty!   Bathing merely served to take away from play time, which when you’re 6-years-old is pretty important.  (Yeah, I was one of those kids who hated taking a bath.)  And it’s really hard to follow directions in class if you were talking the whole time.

Fast forward to present day.

I started regularly practicing yoga when I was about twenty-five.  Initially, I began because I wanted to look good.  Go ahead and judge away if that’s your thing…but don’t pretend that if that’s not why you started practicing, that you don’t care that you’ve lost ten pounds or look ten times better in booty shorts than before.  (We’re only people.)  After awhile, I had a feeling that there was something more to this yoga thing, and, as it turns out…I was right. 

I had never considered myself spiritual…and actually hated the concept.   Rightfully so, I might add.  In every religious constitution there are universal beliefs about life and what is wrong/right.  Now, some of these are agreeable–thou shalt not kill (unless thou doth kill, then it’s ok to kill you back.)  But others are questionable and aren’t really deciding factors if you’re living a right life or not:  Who watches porn?!?!  Be honest, because if you don’t, I won’t hang out with you.  (And clearly, I’m A LOT of fun to hang out with…but mostly because I like porn.)  Well…you get the point.

Anyway, when I found yoga, I thought it was perfect!  A nonjudgmental body of people who encourage me to just simply be me.  And not just me…but the BEST version of me!  (Just when you thought I couldn’t get any better.)  And, as it turns out, when I say “nonjudgmental” what I really mean is a group of people who are judgmental.  They just do it under a foggy haze of what’s right–like Veganism and Sobriety.  (In case you were wondering what’s right.) 

Now, I’m not saying that everyone is a judgmental asshole.  However, ask

This is an example of a yoga babe. She will probably be judged.

yourself this question:  Have I ever judged anyone in the community for eating meat?  Or drinking a few too many drinks?  For talking too loudly in the practice room?…(have some respect for crying out loud)  Or how about judging a girl for her super skimpy yoga outfit…(did I mention that I like pornography yet?)  What was she…a slut?  Some girl begging for attention?  Now, if you’ve answered “No, I have NEVER done that,”  I would judge you as a liar. 

Vedanta encourages us to question EVERYTHING.  Every thought we have, every action we take, every maxim we’ve believed in.  (I’m a personal fan of not counting my chickens before they hatch…but mostly because I am vegan and like the idea of eggs producing chicks.)  I would take this a step further to question authorities–yes, even in my Kula (what real yogis call their community).  I mean, if I’m going to be a part of something…I need to know WHAT it is that I’m a part of…(not just what somebody wants it to be…but what it actually is.  This is a huge difference.) 

This is 1 chick I can count...

And I, for one, will not let anyone tell me what my right way of living is.  Incase you don’t know…we are all different.  (Now, I’m not talking about the universal love juice that enlivens this entire world.)  I’m talking about my physical body and that which is enveloped in it (mind and intellect).  One prescribed way of doing things is not meant for universal application.  There are a million different types of yoga, religion, philosophies, etc.  (Thank god because otherwise the majority of us would be effed.)  So, I don’t think twice when I’m judged for drinking a few glasses of cabernet.  A couple glasses of wine will not make me less worthy of a human, I already know this. 

And when we say Namaste at the end of class…we are not honoring the sober lifestyle we’ve adopted since becoming a committed member to our studio–nor are we honoring all the meat we did not eat since we’ve watched all those PETA videos…we are honoring that universal love juice; the sameness in all of us that happens to produce the diversity in the world we live in.