I’ve felt on fire the last couple of weeks. Nichlas and I have made progress on our job search and are in the process of pursuing some exciting developments. Applying for jobs in diving and committing to a plastic free challenge has kept my focus on the ocean and I’ve learned a lot. In tandem with going plastic free I’ve started an ayurvedic practice. Every morning I dedicate 15-20 minutes to preparing myself for the day, even before yoga. The two combined have transformed the way I interact with the world in the most positive way.
Because of the focus and grounding my new rituals have given me, and being back home in my yoga bubble, my teaching and personal practice is flourishing. I’m always psyched to get on the mat and am surprising myself with new postures. I attribute this growth spurt to the rituals. To avoid plastic I’ve had to go slower and make a lot of my own stuff from basic ingredients. The ayurveda involves a morning self care routine so I’ve also been taking more time than usual to prepare myself for the day. Both encourage me to be more holistic and rooted.
There is a tradition of yogis living in caves, but the average modern day practitioner wants their yoga to make them better at being in the world. I know my yoga practice makes me better adjusted and has opened up a lot of opportunities. I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for yoga. Taking time in the morning to mentally, physically, and spiritually center myself makes me better at tackling life’s curveballs. The routines I’ve developed by incorporating plastic free and ayurveda into my life give me consistency and assurance. It’s good because my life has been nomadic and varied for the last 2 years and doesn’t show signs of slowing anytime soon.
Though the point of devotional practice is to make us less attached, I do know that I can get carried away with devotion to a ritual when I see its benefits. Daily practice and observance is where the magic happens, but there is always a need for balance. I’m not a yogi living in a cave. I live in the modern world, have close human relationships, and work in yoga and scuba diving. Thus my yoga practice is different from an isolated practitioner. Yet I’ve practiced yoga asana on and off since I was 10 and only about a year ago did I finally come to value and look forward to a day of rest. The concept of one day off is built into most traditions, but for avid devotees like myself it can actually be more challenging to set aside your ritual for one day than to just go full steam ahead all the time.
Since February began I’ve been enthusiastic about not purchasing plastic. Plastic free has put me in a few funny social situations, but I’ve learned to stand my ground. It’s made me rethink my choices and consume a whole lot less overall. One of my favorite things about traveling is the perspective it gives me on how little I need and I love that I’m finding ways to instill that value into life in my hometown.
I’m starting to look at being plastic free in the same way as my yoga practice. The hardest part of the plastic challenge is not saying no to plastic, its dealing with the self critique that pops up in my mind as a result of the magnifying glass I’m holding up to my life. Self evaluation and introspection are important, its good to recognize areas where we can improve and make steps to betterment, but we need to be careful that we aren’t too judgemental. I’m my own biggest critic and I’ve been a little hard on myself recently. I’m trying to minimize and live small, but I’m not a yogi living in a cave. It’s good that I’m making more informed decisions that benefit me and the planet, but sometimes I just want a cute pair of yoga pants even though I care about the turtles.
I also want to be able to spontaneously enjoy time with friends. This week I took a good friend’s yoga class, after she and I walked to the juice bar next door, and she treated me to a juice which came in a plastic cup with a plastic lid and straw. I can plan my own take out containers most of the time, but I was unprepared in this scenario. To be honest, I wanted the juice. I had just taken hot yoga and it sounded refreshing and was such a nice treat from a friend. Without much hesitation I drank the juice. Thought it was delicious, I knew I had broken my pledge and spent the entire time drinking it looking at the straw and thinking about turtles and how awful I was. My decision to ditch plastic was because of an appreciation for life and for the most part it serves me well, but here it was doing the opposite. Yes I could have said no to my friend, but I didn’t, I had the juice and I should have enjoyed it without damming myself.
It’s good that I hold myself to high standards, but I also need to relax the self judgement. It’s the same as a yoga practice. I need to take a day off every now and again or at least forgive myself if I accidentally use plastic. In situations like a friend buying me juice I can be grateful for the gift and enjoy it without attacking myself internally. This too is an extension of the yogic teaching of ahimsa and I hear my teacher Amy Shapiro saying, “do no harm,” loudly in my head. I need to hold my actions accountable to my ideals but I also need to be lenient with myself on occasion. I’m human and this life is to be lived.
With that in mind this week’s blog is a little shorter and less dense than normal. It’s been a busy week and a lot of exciting things are happening. I can’t wait to share them once its a little more final. I’m cutting myself a break for not giving you a bunch of new facts, recipes, or anything groundbreaking. I need the time to prepare for the next step in my adventure. Can’t wait to share more later! For now I’d like to just leave you with this Edward Abbey quote which sums up what I’m feeling.
One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.