Saturday, April 9, 2011

Eat. Pray. Crap.

I admit it, I'm a Yoga snob.

Once upon a time in Litchfield, Connecticut there was a little girl who lived on a Christmas tree farm. That little girl grew up to become extremely wealthy by selling out her spirituality in a very famous book which then became a movie starring a very famous actress....

Alright, so I'm a snob and a jealous bitch. But at least I admit it.

I really disliked this book. I admit I read it, cover to cover, but I forced myself most of the way. The more I tried to find something in it of value the more I detested it. There are several reasons for my extreme opinion of this book:

First off, it irritated me no end that, although he is married to a Yoga teacher, my husband was swayed by the women he worked with to read it. We've been together going on a quarter century and he has read less than 5 books in this time. EPL was one of them. Can you fucking believe this?!?

Secondly, how come the author never divulges the name of her guru? Most of the disciples I know do whatever they can for their beloved teacher. It just comes across as shady that there aren't more pranams offered to this mysterious guru.

Thirdly, (here's the big one) it must be really nice to have the means, time and lack of responsibility to wander off in your thirties to try to find yourself. Hurl. Told you I was jealous.

Ok, let's expound on that last one.

Anyone can re-find their passion for food in Italy. I mean, for crying out loud, who the hell doesn't like pizza? And if you don't like pizza, there's gelatti. And if you don't like ice cream, there's wine and cheese. Sheesh. Here's a test, try re-finding your love of food when you are cooking for a fussy kid and it's either pb&j or mac and cheese 10 times per week! It's in the moment of sinking your teeth into an orange marmalade and peanut butter on white bread sandwich while having a carpet picnic with your fussy kids  surrounded by laundry piles that you also re-find love in your life.

And sure, one of my dreams is to go to my own Guru's ashram in India and pray with Her. But I learned how to pray because of what She has taught me when I am away from Her. It is the blessings She has bestowed upon me that have led me to the people in my life that I pray with today. I actually was missing Her earlier this week and thanks to the wonders of the Internet I was able to look up my Guru on 'You Tube'. I know it sounds foolish but I was able to connect with Her and feel Her divine Love right through the computer. Even this was unnecessary and I knew it but it made me feel better. When I went to visit my bestie, Tink, a couple of weeks ago I was green with envy when I saw her Yoga room and there were beautiful photos of our Guru on the wall. Just looking at photos of Her feet filled my soul with Love. But even photos are unnecessary. She is with me always. I know this in my heart and when I feel disconnected I am not disconnected from my Guru, but rather from my own heart. Meditation, chanting or reading of the scriptures can bring me right back, all without a passport to India.

And let's talk about Love. Sure, it's a tough one. The heroine of our crappy story felt like she got married too early and they grew apart...yada, yada, yada. Her only way out was a divorce, a rebound lover and then a trip around the world to find a millionaire in Bali. Let's try this instead; look over to the man snoring beside you in his threadbare long underwear. Pretend he is a sexy, foreign millionaire. Then try to remember why you picked him to snore beside you. Instead of thinking about how you've 'grown apart' think about how you've grown up together. People change. I mean, here is the man that wanted me to give up Yoga for him, before he read EPL....

I never recommend EPL as a book for serious students to read. It's fine for the 'designer label spiritual seekers' but for someone who is looking to truly find their own heart there are much better tomes. Start with Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. It reads like fiction but is true. From there go to The Bhagavad Gita. I like the Stephen Mitchell translation. It's short and easy to digest. Then finally read The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali. It is also short and there are many translations to choose from. The 'Sutras' and the 'Gita' are scriptures, thousands of years old. They are the foundations of Yogic spirituality.

If you can get through those three, then pick up EPL and see if you haven't already found out that there's no place like home to find yourself. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Girl with the Curl

"There once was a girl with a curl right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very good but when she was bad, she was awful!"

"Sure! You gave her all the good stuff!"

"Comb that hair, Krissy! You look like the wild woman of Borneo!"

My hair has always been a source of envy of other people as well as one of the things I can't decide if I love or hate about myself. I know I'm not alone. A lot of women have hair issues. It has just been within the last few years that I have realized just how much I have misunderstood my hair and how my hair has caused others to misunderstand me.

I'm stuck in the 80's. I loved that time in my life! Fun clothes, great music and BIG, CURLY hair was in!!! I mean, what's not to love?? I tried a short do for awhile in high school but I have so many 'cowlicks' around my face that a short style was impossible to keep up with. My high school sweetheart loved long hair, so as many women do to try and please their men, I grew my hair and never looked back.

Basically my entire adult life I have had long hair. It is all over the place and I can't help it. It is unruly and I try to control it. My hair truly has a life of it's own. It's stuck on my clothes. It gets caught in the car window. I hate when it gets in my face but I can't stand to have it restrained. When it's too long it gives me a headache. So much of it comes out in the shower that my father used to tease me and say that he was going to collect it to sew himself a toupee....

But this wild hair is mine and I own it. I really am not into spending hundreds of dollars and hours like other women trying to change it. When I get a haircut my stylist will blow it straight, just for a change. I can barely recognize myself in the mirror. I think I look ridiculous with straight hair. It is a bizarre experience for me. It will usually last a couple of days until it screams at me to be washed and then it's curly again. I don't have the skills to blow it straight myself or to even set it in curlers to try and control it. A woman's hair is exhausting.

Once when I was in college one of my co-workers put his hand on my shoulder and accidentally touched my hair. He said out loud, "I can't believe how soft your hair is. I mean it's so curly I just thought it would be bristly...." That was the first time I had ever heard that! I was so surprised at the comment that it has stayed with me but I never examined the thought process behind it until a couple of years ago. I was watching the 'Millionaire Matchmaker'; a stupid reality show about millionaires who can't find women and have to be professionally matched up. The 'matchmaker' interviews each prospective woman and if the women don't come in with pin straight hair, they get sent home. She tells them, in her thick New York accent that, "Men don't wanna get their hair stuck in that bush." I was shocked! Do men actually think like that?!? It can't be!

It has to be more than just the physicality of the mechanics. I refuse to believe that all men are that shallow. Some maybe, but not all. This revelation made me start to take notice of other women. Take for example a wedding we recently attended. There were about 140 people there and you figure about half of them are women. So out of roughly 70 women of all kinds of ethnicity, I was the only one with curly hair in the room. One of the bridesmaids had curls, but it was clear to see they were produced by rollers. There was not one other woman there embracing her Goddess-given curls. Hmm...

As a child I had considered joining a nunnery until I found out that the first thing they did to you when you got there was shave your head. I have always heard that a woman's hair is her 'crowning glory', so shaving my head sounded traumatic. I'll take a pass on the nunnery, thank you. When Shri Dhyanyogiji came to America, He was shocked to see women with short hair. When His disciples asked why this was bothersome, He replied that a woman's hair hides her karma. That's a huge concept to wrap your mind around. To fully grasp it you must first have to have a immense understanding of karma. Karma is so complex that many gurus tell their students to not even try to understand it. So the fact that your hair can hide it is mind blowing.

But this still doesn't address the issue of curly VS straight....

When I was little, my 'gram' would recite to me the poem at the top of the page. This made me wonder, even as a child, if it was my curly hair that made me naughty. My sisters taunt me to this day that I got the 'good hair', whatever that means. As a child I was endlessly harassed to, "Comb it! What will people think if your hair is so wild?"

OK, now we're getting somewhere!

There is a huge misconception about women that they are their hair. If your hair is straight and breezy but doesn't fly away, you are perceived as easy to get along with and in control of yourself. If your hair is curly, unruly and maybe even frizzy you are perceived as complicated and uncontrollable. (It seems that misconceptions are magnified 1000x if you are an African-American woman!)

My favorite discussion on this topic was in the show 'Sex and the City' when Carrie loses Big to a straight haired girl:

Although I am not my hair, it is just like my spirit; unruly and wild. It's mine and I love it. Love me? Love my hair too.