"Even writing the word self-love makes me feel stupid. Is there anything more bullshit, kale-eating, juice-fasting contemporary American than the notion of self-love? "Be gentle with yourself, you deserve it." Do I really?" - Melissa Broder
Recently I went on a date with a guy from kundalini yoga. Given our meeting location, I was surprised to find out that he was very rational. It turned out he had grown up in a hippy family, practically raised naked in the redwoods. His life was filled with school teachers named Rainbow and very little structure. Like many children, he rebelled against his upbringing. Instead of finding solace in the invisible, he focused on his hands. He found joy through building and creating in the physical world. And learned to scoff at quasi spiritual stuff that often felt like bullshit.
His contradictory ways humored me. He had no problem blasting mantras in his house, but couldn't stand the idea of naming what he was grateful for. He did kundalini yoga regularly, but found many new age notions to be stupid. And then, as if his attitude was infectious, I began to feel similarly. My coach had me do a self love meditation and it actually felt painful. I began listening to misogynistic hip hop exclusively and found the sound of chanting music irritating. The magic and divine timing memes of social media felt super annoying. And my faith in kundalini yoga was wavering. I didn't want to wear a white turban. I didn't want to be positive. I didn't even want to write this blog.
This had happened to me before. My faith in both my practice and myself takes a nose dive. Peace and serenity sound bleak. I begin going to yoga less. In simple terms- my spiritual lifestyle feels boring a f. So I swing to the opposite side of the spectrum. Abandoning early mornings for late nights. Attention focusing on the outer world, whether that is through my body or boys or some other fleeting and fun activity. And it works for a little while. I feel alive, I feel young and doused in dopamine. And then like every cheap high, I eventually come crashing back down. Crawling on my hands and knees back towards my yoga mat.
But this time, when the desire to flee from my life occurred, I didn't run. Instead of turning my back on meditation, I kept on going. When I reached out to a friend to tell her what was up, she reminded me that devotion is not all sparkles and rainbows. A spiritual path is mostly grit, carving us into our power as we push through the hard stuff. None of this is designed to be easy or comfortable all of the time. And the fact that I was questioning things was a good sign. Otherwise I am simply swallowing doctrines and philosophies that never belonged to me in the first place.
When I asked a mentor of mine if she experienced this during her journey, she said often. She reminded me that it is similar to holding your arms up during kundalini. It hurts, you want to quit, your mind is telling you that this is pointless and then somehow you get through it. And on the other side of the pain, is a lightness that you never knew was possible. Now that I am almost on the other side of my anti phase, I can say that I am happy with the way I handled things. Nothing good would have come out of participating in self sabotaging behaviors. And I know that these sort of experiences will only create a more personalized relationship with my practice. By choosing to not abandon myself for the sake of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, I deepen my connection with self. And ultimately, everyone around me. Which is the sort of oneness that every spiritual practice is attempting to take us towards.
Conclusion: Disenchantment and angst is just another essential piece of the spiritual pie.
Photo: Ryan Halliwell