When the mind is spinning and the perspective is negative noise, my teacher Francois Raoult says, “You have to change the tape.” As a child of the 80’s who constantly changed tapes in the numerous cassette players around the house—The Beatles to New Kids to R.E.M to Madonna to the Ramones—so much so her parents gifted her a Walkman with comfy headphones—this imagistic advice adhered like music to magnetically coated film.
I am a fan of examples. With that spirit, let’s play out the tape with this image of me in the flashy yoga pose Fallen Angel (a revolved arm balance where only my hands are on the ground and the side of my cheek gently rests against it while one leg is perched on one upper arm and the other is reaching up towards the sky) in my home practice space.
The Tape: Negative Nilly and the Noisemakers. Girl, you ain’t shit compared to the other yogis on Insta. And look at the wallpaper, peeling away from lumpy plaster walls that need to be insulated and skim-coated, which costs a fortune we don’t have because of the debt I dug being stupid and studying to be a writer in undergraduate and graduate school when I should have been in business school like people I know who made their millions and got out and now just travel and stay in luxury lofts in NYC because they’re perfect, and I am here, living in a house that needs new floors and walls I will never get because I don’t have the time because I have to work and I will never make enough money teaching and I will never be a perfect yogi when I need more thoracic rotation, hip opening, arm strength and complete understanding of the Sutras.
[Press Stop. I lovingly eject the tape. Thank you for serving your purpose, I say to myself as I discard it, let it go. And gently insert the new one and crank it up! ]
New Tape: Magnificent Manders and Lightmakers. Love, my abdominals are still nodding Namastes for what they learned in this pose. I am a woman, with a strong, daily practice of close study and clear articulation. I believe in progress over perfection. Revision is, and always will be, one of my favorite parts of process. I choose climbing out of debt over new walls. I have paid off two credit cards and am tackling a student loan. I no longer feel shame about money; I feel gratitude for the abundance we do have. We are lucky to own a beautiful home with a rich history of writers who lived here in the past. We were destined for this house, and we are here. How awesome to have the time to explore how we want each room when we have CASH to pay for remodeling. I am open to the infinite possibilities of yoga and I am willing to receive the gifts of being, most importantly, a student and a well-educated teacher who whole-heartedly believes in the therapeutic power of yoga, its healing and restorative qualities, and who believes in accessible asanas with viable modifications for all. Woman, I am your way! My words and my actions align. I deserve a seat at this table of life. Over doubt and fear, I choose love and peace.
Want to know the secret? It’s a choice. I choose my thoughts and intentions. I choose how I want to life my life. In the shower when I have those Negative Nilly confrontations with past hurtful situations, I choose to immediately catch myself and change the tape to “I choose peace”. After a long day, around happy hour, when wine crosses the mind, “I chose clarity.” When I’m impatient in the long line at the bank, I choose to change the tape to “thank you for the moment to stop”. When I feel that tinge of jealousy and competition because he/she/they make better art than me, I choose to celebrate: “you go, love”—that fact that art exists in this climate is a miracle! I choose over and over again. It’s not easy. Hard choices aren’t. Choosing means speaking out, standing up, letting go, being present, having perspective. I fall down. I fuck up. I make a mess. I get back on track. That’s reality. My life does not look look like photo-session-photo-shopped perfection of escapism because it’s that’s not my reality. This photo is my life—my process and progress, my imperfectly perfect life with dog hair all over the floor, wallpaper curling at the seam, and abs that are shaking. AND I CHOOSE TO LOVE IT. I’m even GRATEFUL for it! My choices are life affirming, life changing. That shit, however hokey and woo-woo it sounds is better than the living hell of falsity, anger, and shame. For reals. If you are choosing and it’s totally-exhausting-challenging, you are working. You are not alone. We are with you. We are working just as hard to change the tape, change our lives, to be light in darkness. Keep choosing. It is working. This post is my testimony.
Here’s the Cliff Notes: We must recognize the tape, choose to change it—AND CHANGE IT, be resilient, and be thankful for what actually is.
Thank you, Francois, for helping me recognize the tape and seeing it needed changing. Essential Yoga Teacher Training with you is school for the soul; it’s given me more than a RYT certificate. It’s given me back my self-love and worth. A shout-out to those who have shown me who I want to be and those who make room for me at the table and welcome me with a legit hug. And, finally, to the 80’s for all the music that helped me change the tape—literally.
Today I choose love. Let’s choose it together. You know you want to…Just do it. C’mon.