Core Work: Stay the Course

banneryoga

” I believe in knowing who you are but without limiting yourself to your expectation of who you are.”

~Charlotte Eriksson

Empty Roads & Broken Bottles; in search for the Great Perhaps

I keep finding myself in these conversations lately, these big life, capital ‘C’ conversations. The kind of conversations you realize are these informal summits, the ones that are going to change the history book of your life that hasn’t been written yet, the life you have yet to experience. And, here’s the weird thing, I have a seat at the table. People are listening to me, really listening to me. We’re taking turns talking. We’re nodding and mirroring and offering each other space to say our piece, but the conversation is awkward and stilted.

See I’ve consciously and conscientiously curated my dinner party guest list to queer unicorn perfection. I’m pretty damn proud of it actually. If my dinner party were an invitation it would be the one that spills out a fabulous array of mismatched glitter. You want to be pissed because you realize you’re never (EVER) going to be able to clean it all up but the theme is so ridiculous, the menu so perfect, the dress code so delightful, and RSVP list so magickal that you know you’re going to smile and shake your head remembering the shenanigans from that night every time you pick glitter off your work clothes– so you just surrender.

The thing with these perfect queer unicorn dinner parties though, is that when you gather a group of folks that aren’t used to being asked their opinion, folks that are generally not heard/seen, folks that have spent the majority of their time on this planet figuring out how to fit in enough to survive, it’s hard to have a serious summit about the course everyone wants their lives to take. All of sudden we realize that we’ve clawed and crawled our way to this point in our lives when we have a little bit of agency and we haven’t a damn clue what to do with it.

Understanding who we are in this life in a way that allows us to grow is a great task of development, but an extremely daunting adventure. It expects us to walk with clarity through the gauntlet of other’s perceptions while not losing our pathway back to our core selves. For most of us this door was shut a long time ago the first time we were shamed for having an internal world that differed from those who were charged with decorating and tending to our external one.

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Once this conflict is setup it rears it’s insidious and self-defeating head in multiple situations and in subtle and not so subtle ways. It doesn’t just come up from the larger more visible oppressive systems we all live in, it comes up in our individual stories and our families of choice. Sometimes it doesn’t even look like a critical voice. In fact, more often than not it comes up in affirmations, in agreeing to things we don’t realize we don’t want to do.

It might look like leaning into a physically challenging asana practice before we have a good hold on our internal clarity (read: a lot of the yoga we practice here in the West). It might look like saying yes to consuming things that aren’t actually good for our minds, bodies, hearts, and spirits. It can look like rejecting needed and nurturing rest. It can show up as acts of love when we believe supporting  our partners means agreeing with them, consistently and unequivocally. The problem with this is that we are growing bodies, building lives, and navigating relationships in ways that are not sustainable and consistent with our true selves. We’re doing work without doing the core work first. We need to solidify and strengthen our centers before radiating outwards. Otherwise, just like physical practices we’re not ready for, we hurt ourselves.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I interact as a human that wants to live in family, community, and relationship. How do I value my own autonomy and encourage the folks around me to do the same? I do believe that it’s important to hear the voices and reflections of those I love and respect, and even constructive criticism from those that might have a more challenging presence in my life, but I want to be able to grow without losing my own individual root system. I’ve been thinking about how I’ve seen this lack of ability to calibrate to our own individual meter effects folks I interact with in both my personal and professional circles. How can we be communal creatures, learning and growing from one another, while still remaining true to the most authentic versions of ourselves?

{Image Credit:https://www.pinterest.com/pin/244179611021661681/}
{Image Credit: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/244179611021661681/}

I think that being open to growth and change while also knowing how and when to stay the course is a delicate practice. It requires a level of understanding ourselves that honors the sophisticated fluidity around core identities.

In perfect worlds we would have all been raised in environments where this was practiced and modeled around us. We would have been lovingly and meticulously assembled in protective bottles until we were ready to take our ships out onto open water. My guess is this isn’t how it looked for the great majority of us.

Our choice then, is if we want to dedicate the time and energy to hone our ability to live in this authentic practice? Is it worthy work to do the painstaking task of coaching our internal parents to raise fully formed, solid but growth oriented beings?

I would like to know myself in a way that can hear new points of view but isn’t threatened by every new opinion I encounter. I would like to interact lovingly with those around me while knowing the difference between compromising and being compromised. And most importantly, I don’t want my ability to be self-actualized to my most authentic form stinted by anything, including my own expectation of who I am supposed to become.

So with that in mind, I will honor the struggles that have made me who I am,  I will continue to learn the craft of compassionately piecing the person I’m supposed to become together, and I commit to believing in the innate structure of my ship to weather any storm.

Staying the course,

Traci

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Traci Medeiros-Bagan {She|Her|Hers|They|Them|Theirs} is currently in the depths of intentional core work to build a conscious practice. They are a therapist, yoga teacher, and human in progress. Information about where, when, and how they share this journey with community can be found at compassionaterevolthealing.com

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Core Work: Changes

banneryoga

Changes

“There’s many reasons
we are
what we’ve become

I’m going through changes
ripping out pages
I’m going through changes now

I knew it once
but I forgot
I’m going through changes now

We want everything but
what we’ve got
I’m going through changes now”

~Langhorne Slim + The Law

It has been oppressively hot, especially these last few weeks of summer. It hasn’t rained here in Southern California in a good long while.

I’m sitting here in front of my computer while the rain pours down.

I woke up to a text/wish from a partner that we were cuddled up enjoying the downpour from somewhere other than where we were. I cooked breakfast with a partner as we reflected on the changes rumbling at the fault lines in our world. They were starting to shift the plates in our universe in a way that made the landscape look ( at times terrifyingly and at times divinely) different from the one we intended to build. Sometimes, as happens, you have a profound moment of clarity over tofu scramble and coffee.

I looked out the window at the rain. I confessed to my breakfast company that while there was nothing that should make me feel particularly incredulous about that morning’s weather, something deep down in my bones felt awe and disbelief. What is it in our bodies that tells us our moments of discomfort will never end? Sometimes it’s a heat wave, sometimes that moment when you’re so sick (hungover from substances or life), or when you’re in a particularly dark period that something in your gut makes the definitive statement this is just the way things are going to be: forever.

For me the discomfort recently has been transition– ironic given the nature of my work and the number of times I process with folks around how we are all ALWAYS in transition (Side note for anyone I’ve said this to: please know, I don’t rescind the truth of this statement but I do know how ridiculously uncomfortable it is, like a deep down crawling feeling under your skin). I had a particularly frantic day yesterday. There was a power outage so I had to transfer my work space to a temporary location. I rushed back to teach my yoga class transferring my awareness from computer brain to mindful body. When I got to the studio it was a particularly busy day as one class of students got out and the next class transitioned in. I had a meeting around transferring part of my practice to a new space. I had a family meeting around transitioning our family meeting to a new time.

Towards the end of my long day yesterday I felt like an angry little tea pot. Whether it was the heatwave, the growing saturation of the clouds, the pressure cooker of managing the discomfort of change, or the push towards the next plateau of life, I could hear that deep guttural squeal of steam starting from core center. As I sipped my coffee to the rain’s calming meditative rhythm, I was able to take a full breath past my throat, down into my chest, deep down into my gut. I flipped the spout of my teapot so it wasn’t squealing, I turned off the stove, my world got a little quieter, and I had a few insights:

(1) Things always change; the weather, the seasons, our lives. Things were bound to turn around.

(2) Yesterday, at the end cap of the heat wave with the clouds pushed to their breaking points, something in my subconscious said it was never going to be cool or rain again, ever.

(3) The tension I felt in my person had some functional marking points, but at its core it was based in my desire to be somewhere other than where I was (read: not in transition) and the belief that I would never be anywhere else than where I was (read: in the discomfort of transition forever).

The only thing that changed this morning, other than the precipitation, was that I had evidence that change was a constant. To a certain extent I would be in transition forever, but I wouldn’t necessarily be in the discomfort of it, as long as I chose to be in a little bit of healthy debate with my sometimes nay saying and catastrophizing bones.

In case you’re needing a little reminder that core work starts when we can create spaciousness and safety around leaning into these moments of transition (read: life), know that from the time I started this post to the typing of these last few sentences, my playlist has re-started, the rain has stopped, and a sun streak just came through the clouds.

In case you’re someone that needs an appropriate soundtrack to help shake the dust off that old belief that it is discomfort that is permanent and constant rather than change a little playlist help:

Ripping out pages,

Traci

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Traci Medeiros-Bagan {She|Her|Hers|They|Them|Theirs} is currently in the depths of intentional core work to build a conscious practice. They are a therapist, yoga teacher, and human in progress. Information about where, when, and how they share this journey with community can be found at compassionaterevolthealing.com