Confessions of a Yoga Junkie Editor
Big news this week! Parvati.org’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, Darcy Belanger, is in Paris at the UN Climate Conference, COP21! He brings with him the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary Treaty to be signed by world leaders. When 99 countries sign on to the treaty, MAPS will take effect, protecting the Arctic Ocean and the magnificent whales and all the marine life that call it home from exploitation and attack. Since we mailed out copies of the MAPS treaty to all heads of government last week, we already have received acknowledgement from Ireland, New Zealand, Portugal and Israel!
While we continue to support Darcy from this side of the ocean through meetings, social media and outreach, we are also tending to other creative tasks. I have heard your many repeated requests: “when is your Confessions book going to be available for purchase?!” I am now back to working with my fabulous editor Pranada and marketing director Rishi, to publish my book Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie: A Revolutionary Life Makeover for the Sincere Spiritual Seeker in 2016. This means a photoshoot for the cover image, some final edit tweaks, and building out its launch plan. And fitting it all in as we gear up for the release of my first radio single and music video “I Am Light”. It will be a super fun, action packed 2016! I am thrilled.
Pranada has been involved with the book since its words first started coming through me while I lay paralyzed and bedridden with a spinal injury. Longtime readers of my blog know I experienced a medically miraculous recovery from the injury through a deep surrender to the power of Nature. In that absolute trust and openness, I experienced some of the most profound insights of my life, and found myself more intuitively open than ever to see the blocks others were carrying and how they could shift them.
As part of the editing process, Pranada has been working more directly with the book and doing the exercises as though she were reading it for the first time. As the closest to the book, and the first to really begin to experience the “revolutionary life makeover” that it offers, I find her insights valuable and unique. So I asked if she would be willing to share her process here with you. Luckily for us all, she said yes. May you feel inspired by the courage and candour she shares here. May you each experience a revolutionary life makeover and live your fullest potential in every moment.
Take it away Pranada…
CONFESSIONS OF A YOGA JUNKIE EDITOR
I have worked with words and communications in some form for all my life, and have always been a fast reader and sharp proofreader. There is music in words for me, and I can tell when a phrase hits a note out of tune or rhythm and needs to be reshaped. I can do light edits, or complete reworks. But editing Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie has been an experience that has shaped me at least as much, or more, than I have shaped the book. In a very real sense, I have been the first test study for its transformative power. Parvati and I joke that I am “Patient Zero”.
I remember the days of sitting in Parvati’s bedroom with a laptop or tablet, transcribing her words as she lay immobile and in pain. We did not at that time realize we were writing a book. My job was simply to capture the heightened awareness with which the injury had gifted her. Her insights, and her ability to conceptualize large chunks of text without seeing it, were remarkably keen. I would read back what I had written down, and she would immediately suggest to change this word, move this phrase, all the while keeping a clear sense of the throughline of what needed to be communicated.
As an example of the depth of intuitive insight that was surging through her at this time, I randomly mentioned that some food at a place I frequented for lunch at the office hadn’t agreed with me, and she found herself immediately giving me detailed recommendations for a cleanse involving triphala, acidophilus and bentonite to address a much deeper issue.
I recall that at least one point in the process of dictation, I found myself fighting unexpected tears in reading back the words I had written down, as they touched on a tender and painful place within myself I had not realized existed. Other times, I would find myself spacey, sulky and unable to make helpful suggestions to edit the text because it was hitting a blind spot for me and I was unconsciously unwilling to go there.
So from the bed where she lay, Parvati was simultaneously writing a chapter, compassionately and patiently guiding me through a stuck spot that was getting in the way of the work she needed to be doing, modifying the words to help others move through the same stuckness, and all the while remaining absolutely present with the pain and the healing process she was experiencing. Even now, I can barely fathom it.
If you’ve been reading Parvati’s blog for a while, you’ll know that the spinal injury happened four years ago now. And as for me, Patient Zero, I am still very much in process with the work of the book. I am not saying that it will be so for you. You have the choice. Indeed, perhaps as I share how I have resisted it, you will be on the lookout for such resistance within yourself and be able to move more quickly through places where I have held on for months (years!).
The biggest way in which I resisted the book was by allowing myself to believe that as the editor, I was somehow exempt. That it was for others to work with, not me. It was not until this year that I truly sat down and started to work my way through the book as though it had been written just for me – even though, in many ways, it has been just that! There are two things I will say about this.
One, the book originally came through Parvati because she was absolutely surrendered, open, ready and willing to be completely restructured around a whole new axis. Confessions is born of the alchemical fires of transformation that marked her life at that time, and there is no co-creation with a gift like this without willingness to jump into the same transformative fire. Trying to edit Confessions while resistant might be a bit like trying to climb up into an Ent, one of the sentient trees from Lord of the Rings, and prune its branches arbitrarily without any knowledge of its life force. With Parvati’s clarity informing the work, it simply will not allow any incorrect cut. One who tries might find themselves unceremoniously dumped on the ground. I can say that I have had numerous occasions over the years to find myself knocked back on my ass after taking an egoic approach!
This leads me to my second point, on which I will share more extensively. It is quite personal for me, but perhaps it will resonate for you too. That is the issue of denial. Especially prevalent in families where there has been some form of addiction, but also an issue even in seemingly “perfect” home environments, denial is so wonderfully defined as an acronym for “Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying”. We may believe that we are willing, and that we are doing the work, when in truth we are still hiding from it.
I’ve spent my life deeply invested in an identity of being the smart one, the one who gets things right, is super capable, has nothing to learn from anyone else and everything to teach others. And I’ve been invested in believing that identity and convincing others of it in order to deny the underlying pain: a deep investment in feeling wretched, unloved, incapable, dirty, full of self-loathing. Not due to any particular circumstance. Just as a lifelong default.
If you know me, you probably understand that both of these extremes are lies. I’m intelligent enough, and capable when I want to be. I struggle with procrastination and time management, and with being orderly in my surroundings. I can be kind and thoughtful, or arrogant and cranky. I’m not the next super duper amazing wunderkind who is just so special and destined for success, and I’m not some lowly worm in a bed of mud. I’m just one more person trying to figure it all out. I’ve got some good things to offer, and I have a long way to go.
My investment in these identities – the wretch and the over-achiever – has been the de facto priority of my life. Without realizing I was doing so, I would ensure I perpetuated them at almost any cost. Having met the international humanitarian and spiritual leader Amma and tasted the sweetness of devotion, compassion, kindness and selfless service she embodies, it is still painful to consider the extent to which I blocked such qualities in myself. But the reality is that for the most part, even after meeting Amma, I only practiced these qualities insofar as they did not challenge me to give up my attachments to the wretch and the over-achiever. In other words, I was unconsciously putting my own ego trips ahead of anyone and anything else in my life – including the Satguru whose teachings I claim to follow.
I recently had a deep conversation with a longtime trusted healer about the ways I suffer and hide myself and reject help. It was wisely pointed out to me that a lie upon a lie does not make truth. My attachment to being the lowly worm in filth is a lie in the face of the reality in which Confessions stands fast: we are all children of the Divine. To then pile the lie of “I’m so super smart and everything is fine fine fine and I don’t need anyone’s help” over top of the lowly worm is a bit like trying to wriggle the worm into a gold dress and claim that it’s a queen. It tries to portray the mud it lies in as a bed of roses. Then more lies come, to try to shore up the shaky identity of queen.
Through this, I have come to see that I have perpetuated a split between my words and my actions, with the hopes of keeping a tight rein over these identities. Here are some examples of what I mean:
I would say: Sure, I’m working on that thing you asked me to do. I should have it ready for you soon.
The reality: I haven’t started it yet.
I would say: Yeah, everything’s fine, no problem.
The reality: I’m going home to a cluttered, dusty apartment and instead of cleaning it up I’m going to surf Facebook so I don’t have to think about how unkind I am being to myself.
I would say: Wow, that’s so awesome that you’re doing some deep inner work.
The reality: I’d rather run screaming in the other direction than face some of my own demons, so let’s just keep talking about your issues and not mine.
I would say: Yeah, I try to meditate daily.
The reality: I sometimes go weeks where I don’t meditate at all, which is never a good choice for me.
I would say: Amma teaches x, or y, or z.
The reality: I’ve read all of Amma’s books cover to cover multiple times and I probably implement like half a percentage point of those teachings in my own life on a daily basis.
The irony is that none of these lies got me closer to reality or diminished my suffering in any way. In fact, they only led me deeper into isolation and pain.
As I write, I find myself in a place where much of my denial has finally started to disintegrate. I see both the pointlessness of identifying as self-loathing mud and the inadequacy of the self-righteous queen. Both are ego appropriations that Confessions exists to help us dismantle. It’s not as though people couldn’t see all along that I’m no queen. That gold dress is a bit more like a hospital gown. It might look ok from the front if I hold it just right, but from the back you can see my ass hanging out. In humility, I can admit that I am suffering, take off the cracking veneer of “I got it all figured out!” and accept the helping hands the universe sends my way moment after moment as I move through my day – including the thoughtful read and accompanying exercises in Confessions.
Could I have gotten here sooner, to the beginning disintegration of denial? Likely, if I had been willing. And if I had, I would have saved a great deal of suffering for myself and those around me. In our interconnected world, this is no small thing. There is no attachment to suffering that does not harm the whole. This could take an obvious form, such as when in self-loathing we unconsciously sabotage the ways we said we would be there for others. But the harm is also more subtle, in that we continue to perpetrate the vibration of separation and suffering in a world that desperately needs more interconnection and love.
It’s in that spirit that I’m going back again to work Confessions from the beginning, as a beginner. I’ll look for the places my ego managed to run and hide and escape the work the last time I went through it. Then I will work with Parvati to strengthen the book so that it has your back more than ever. Our wish is that you, as one who joins us on this path of self-discovery, always feel safe and empowered to stay with the transformative process even when it feels ugly or scary. Just as the lotus grows from the mud, as you will read in the book, the places that seem the most painful and that we like the least about ourselves become the most fertile ground for transformation and magnificence.
On a related note, I’ve come to realize how privileged I am to work with the amazing people in Parvati.org. For example, Parvati, as the founder, Rishi, the director of communications and marketing, and Darcy, the director of strategic initiatives, are effective and persuasive in ways I have never contemplated, and have much to learn from. Darcy has taken time off work to represent Parvati.org at the UN climate conference and give his utmost effort to get the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary treaty signed and ratified. He came to this work with a surrendered warrior’s determination and focus, giving presentations to schools by phone even from the airport while waiting to board his plane. I have been so impressed with his dedication and selflessness. Under my now crumbling queen identity, I would not have recognized his courage and generosity in spirit, because then I would have had to admit that I’m not super duper best at everything. But from where I am now, I can see that I have a lot to learn from the people in my life at this time.
The finished Confessions of a Former Yoga Junkie will be coming out next year. I hope that you take away from this sharing of mine some sense of the power and grace that will be waiting for you within its pages if you are open, ready and willing. As you wait for your own copy of Confessions, may you be inspired to find your own lotus in the mud and realize that, like me, you are neither bad nor perfect. We are all simply works in process. Through what I have seen in myself, and learned through this process, I sincerely encourage you to contemplate the power of willingness and humility. Shake out any denial you may carry, and begin to heal sooner rather than later. I know this journey to wholeness is worth it, and that like me, you are worth it!
May all beings be happy and free.