Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

See my eyes
They carry your reflection
Watch my lips
They whisper the words you taught me to
I am your mirror
I have been since time began
When you need power
I am your satisfaction
And when you breathe on me
I go misty - Kristine W.

One thing that draws me to yoga is its roots in the rich Hindu mythology. I love those fasinating stories, especially because we are all in those stories. They are like a mirror which the characters are the reflection of ourselves, and by seeing our own reflection we learn more about ourselves. Of course the stories can be told in different ways and come with all kinds of flavours. Naturally I choose to tell mine with humour, but really I don't fling potty humour around for the sake of being offensive.

Let me quote another insightful yogi: humour runs as deep as fear.

So I totally unleashed the power of my inner sarcastic beast in one of my previous blogs, which "invoked emotions" in many. It's also my most read blog entry to date. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, especially when not everyone gets or can handle humour that is laced with raw and vulgar mockery based on truth. It obviously touched a sore spot in those who cringed or protested after reading it. That, in essence, is the function of sarcasm. It's supposed to be sharp, cutting and bring the ugly out in the open, on the mirror for all to see. The reflection was ugly and scary, and not at all what the minions wanted to see. Another round of mudslinging ensued to protect the illusion of unicorn and pink fuzzy bunnies.

Obviously there's been a ton of chatters and nattering about self-reflection since the gross yoga drama exploded in February. It's not as simple as it sounds. For many, they simply avoid looking in the mirror because they know they might not like what they see. Life is seemingly prettier when there's only rainbow and unicorns to look at. Speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil. Ostriches are very good at that. It's easier to turn a blind eye and pretend the ugly will miraculously and quietly disappear. Bathe in the river of De-Nial and it's all good again.

Some make excuses for the ugly. They would even go that extra mile and preach "holding space, compassion, love, forgiveness..." great suggestions really, but not without addressing the ugly first. Blindly offering love and compassion is fundamentally dangerous and borderline irresponsible. Unconditional forgiveness is just stupid. None of that makes you a better person or solves the problem. In fact, it cheapens those great qualities when they are automatically dispensed without discernment. Or do you also see the ugly in yourself and want to make excuses for your own ugly?

"Let mommy kiss it all better."
"But I'm still bleeding and it really hurts."
"Dear, close your eyes and you won't see it."
"Ok, so if I don't see it, it's not there, right? Mommy?"
"Dear, say no more. I already kissed it and it will be better. We shall not speak of it ever again, ok?"

No healing can occur until we acknowledge the truth, no matter how ugly it is. Admit to your transgressions (a fancy word for fuck-up or being an asshole), then we'll talk about next-steps... and really, how does unconditional forgiveness reflect on you? Not. Well. At. All. 

Don't act like an ostrich and stick your head in sand. Better yet, don't act like an ostrich, stick your head in sand, and expect others to do the same.

Having said all that, it's not all ugly. Goodness gracious me, I most certainly hope you at least like some things when you look in the mirror.

Then there are those who just like what they see in the mirror too much.

I'm all for empowering yourself, finding your inner voice, recognizing your strengths, so on and so forth. Once you clear off the dust on the mirror, that's what you should see, in addition to the ugly. That’s when we take different paths. Some go off and improve on what they don’t like. Some hate the reflection so much that they just give up on themselves. 

Some, simply love looking in the mirror because they are addicted to themselves. I think it's fair to say to a certain degree self-reflection is related to narcissism. By nature we are drawn to things we like, including ourselves, assuming we like ourselves. It's a different conversation when we don't. 

The people who are addicted to themselves are everywhere. An example of a mild case are those who fix their hair whenever they see their reflection on a door or a window. It can expand to posing and admiring every time they walk by a reflective surface, or spending hours everyday on their beauty ritual. It's relatively harmless until the it escalates to complete self-absorption. Everything has to cater to their needs, no matter what the situation is. Self-absorbed people always have needs, not just "regular" needs but "special" needs because they think they are special and above the general public. (People with legitimate reasons, such as health and physical limitations that require them to have special arrangements, are exempt from this public hanging.)

One time I went out for dinner with some fellow yogis in one of my yoga trips. They all described themselves as "easy" until we tried to decide on a restaurant.

"But I don't eat wheat, dairy, meat and I only do organic vegan."

Bitch, please. That is NOT easy! And don't force your wheat free, dairy free, organic vegan dietary rules on others in a spontaneous social outing of more than 10 people. Some of us do eventually run out of patience. Seriously, be upfront about it and don't say "I'm easy, I'll eat anything" when you clearly don't, so that at least we know ahead of time what we are dealing with.

More importantly, don't force your views and values on others. You know who do that? Cultists.

While not all have rigid dietary or beauty rituals, many hijack conversations. They love inviting themselves to someone else's conversation, changing the subject to them or accusing others of being non-yogic. Better yet, they voluntarily offer their opinions and tell their stories. Just like their special needs, they always have stories: they are always epic or at least dramatic, and they are always about them.

Narcissism often comes up in our discussion when The Divine Miss N and I have our yoga dates. She totally nailed it by pointing out that some people love to "catastrophize" to get attention. To them, life is an ongoing soap opera and drama is mandatory. There is always some crisis that he/she has to deal with and of course, he/she is the centre of the universe. They have this void they need to suck everyone into it and fill it with chaos. We all know someone like that.

In the same conversation, I also realized how common the "one-up" mentality is, and the yoga community is no exception. Off the mat, no matter what it is, some yogis always try to one-up you. They always have a bigger problem or tattoo than you have, or some premonitions that are simply out of this world. There have been times when a "senior" student or an aspiring yoga teacher interrupted or sometimes downright attempted to take over my class. They would offer their unsolicited "better" approach to a certain pose or how I was teaching it ineffectively. The irony is, none of them is what I consider an advanced yogi or a good asana teacher. But again, well-versed yogis will probably respect the teacher and other students, and not derail the class in the first place. 

Extreme narcissists are just a sad act. They remind me of Icarus in the Greek mythology: high on inflated ego, his wax wings of delusion melt and ultimately falls on his ass. Whether it's the delusion of being an international murderous porn star, or self-appointed Tantrik wiccan coven leader, the end result is almost always ugly.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

PS: I promise I will unleash the beast next time.

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