Protection

“I stand in front of you. I feel the force of the blow.” – Massive Attack, Protection

I’ve been in love twice in my life and both times we were bezzies before we were lovers. (“Lovers”! Ick!)

The first time we broke up because our backgrounds and our futures were so entirely different, and we were young and still growing; and didn’t realise what we had; and disrespected our relationship with drugs and looking elsewhere.

But there was a time we would have done anything for each other and we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and I believed that he was the most flawed yet all-round beautiful thing I had ever held.

The second time we broke up because he developed a profound mental illness and neither of us knew how to live without control over that; or how to recapture the trust in our future together; and he needed to get out and I needed to protect myself.

But I believe he was the most flawed yet all-round beautiful thing I have ever held and I would still do almost anything for him.

Sometimes I think that my story since then can be summed up as the need to protect oneself being stronger than the need to live.

Everyone has a heartbreak sob story. Boo hoo. Mine happened too late in my life and too early in the history of popular culture to become a reason to audition for X Factor. Thankfully. I guess.

But still, it anchored itself so deeply in my core and fibre that it became a form of paralysis.

Chief among my motivations, had I only known it, was that I should make no sudden movements for fear of getting cut again on a jagged edge. Life is a nightmare when you can’t locate the wound let alone stem the bleeding.

So far, so self-indulgent.

Why is this relevant to a blog about my personal experience of bikram yoga? Perhaps it’s not relevant at all. Perhaps nothing is irrelevant. Perhaps I am putting this down here because I have to let it go. (“Let go”! Ick!) Perhaps this blog is a safe place in the same way the hot room is supposed to be a safe place. (And this is a totally separate issue but before the recent rape allegations I would not have used “probably” in that sentence.) Perhaps the changes I see in the hot room mirror scare me ‘cos I think I’m returning to the body that left me unguarded and allowed me to get hurt so badly.

Maybe when I feel sick, sad, angry, confused and overwhelmed in camel or floor bow or the one before spine twist (“The one before spine twist”! Ick!) What I’m actually feeling is vulnerable and – even though my body is fighting, fighting, fighting me to let go of that protection – vulnerability is the most confusing and alarming state of all.

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Day 31 of 30 Day Challenge

On my way to class this evening I overheard (eavesdropped) these two girls on the tube. One was talking about her blog and said “I am always sincere; I always had the intention that the blog should be sincere” and went on to say that she has attempted to write humour but she had to assume a particular attitude and keep in the front of her thinking that she was being humourous. (I think the fact she said humourous and not funny actually tells us how funny her humourous blogs turned out.) And then she said that it felt really weird to write from a humourous place because she was used to writing from a sincere place. Now, remembering that I have no idea what she writes about or who she is or where she was going and not even pretending that if I bumped into her again I would know her from a can of paint, just this snippet of conversation absolutely fascinated me. Do we have to give up one to have the other? If we take her “sincere” to mean true, then to me very few things are funny unless they have at least a little truth in them. Sincerity without a little humour is just a bad Oscar speech. Without a little humour the weight of the truth would kill me dead. Most people, I think. Fascinating, and I was still thinking about it when I got to the studio.

I got a high five from my excellent friend on reception for completing my 30 days, and I also got my mystery shopper cover blown – he has used dark database arts to figure out it’s me that writes this blog – bumped into my new friend who struck up a conversation with me two nights ago (she’s now on her day 11, way to go Regina!) and also caught up with Cousin Alice as planned.

It was odd to be in class through choice and not because I was in a challenge, and it made for a very strong standing series but once more the heat was fairly overwhelming. I am going to have to adjust to this being the norm rather than a surprise every time. And I’m going to have to adjust sooner rather than later as I have set myself three intentions for the remainder of 2012:

  1. keep earning, and earn a little more if humanly possible
  2. spend Christmas and New Year with my boys and my family, and
  3. keep the high focus on daily practice

So, I’ve asked my parents if they can help me with a little money towards buying a 12 month bundle up front which is by far the cheapest way to practice daily and I’m keeping going. When I asked for the loan my Mum said “have you lost any weight in the last 30 days?” [thanks, Mum. None taken.] And I told her that I couldn’t vouch for weight but I’ve lost inches. And she said you can’t lose inches without losing weight. [And again, thanks for listening.] Hopefully that’s good enough for her! See, if it weren’t just a little funny, it would be a little heartbreaking.

Don’t feel sorry for me, though. Cousin Alice brought me an after class treat of Naked juice Green Machine – my FAVOURITE; I would take it intravenously if that didn’t mean bypassing my tastebuds – so that made it all ok again.

Seascape. Sea Escape.

I have a pinterest board called “the ocean”. It’s not clever, it’s not meant to be, it’s literally just pictures of the ocean. Or oceans. Water, blue, white, sky, blue, white. Figures, anonymous, definite but indistinct. Living between the sky and the ocean. As I yearn to do.

Pictures like this one:

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This one is also fairly typical:

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One more for luck:

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Are you getting the general idea? Like I say, they’re not particularly original – in fact my tastes evidently lean very heavily towards the romantic and mythologised when it comes to water – and they’re not my own work. But each one takes my breath away. Some people like cars, some people like cats (please!), some people completely lose it over a lovely room setting. I say screw rooms, we’re animals, we’re meant to be in the wild. (If you saw my house you might think I actually do live in the wild. I need a housekeeper.)

And yet – and yet! – I live in London. I spent a while in Hawaii with a good friend a few years back. I was in a very dark, unhappy place within myself and I suspect I wasn’t the best company. But besides all that, she would ask me if I wanted to go to the mountains, do I want to go on a hike, do I want to see sugar cane, pineapple plantations? No, why would I? You live LITERALLY ten paces from the Pacific Ocean. I want to be right here. Forever, preferably, if that could be arranged. I would find a place and sit on the sand with my elbows on my knees and my chin in my hands at around 10am. And a few minutes would go by and I would look at my watch and it was 3pm. I was mesmerised. I mean day after day it was all I would do, and all I wanted to do. (Don’t worry, my friends were at work, I’m not totally anti-social.)

It was so beautiful, and yet ask me why and I can’t tell you. It’s so fundamental and self-evident to me that I can’t break it down. It felt like the one time I could believe that the Earth is round, and it belonged to me. That kind of beauty, or rather the attempt to analyse it, can drive a person crazy. It’s like, this beauty can only be evidence of a God. And now that we have evidence, we have no need for faith – so in the face of certainty what is left for us but insanity?

I’m going to get back there. And live. I have a plan, perhaps as definite and indistinct as the figures in my photos, and I can’t share it with you because it is sacred. But I’m going to get back there.

I must be long-sighted. Or I must try to be.

I’m currently working at a hospital. In one of the non-clinical offices – and don’t panic, you can’t get any more non-clinical than me so I’m in the absolute right place.

We have floor-to-ceiling windows that look onto the hospital itself and last week (maybe my third day in the job) I said to my colleagues “there’s a naked man in that window”. Because there was, he was putting on deodorant. Instantly there was a flurried response, but certainly not the one I had expected. After the entire office got up to verify, the general consensus was that this was scandalous. One colleague got out her blueprints of the hospital to see what the allocation of that room and then rang the facilities office to suggest that they hang blinds in that window for “patient dignity”. (The thing is, to me, he looked terribly healthy. Not unwell at all. In fact, quite rigourous.)

I had to tell them that this – though tremendously honourable – was not the reaction I was expecting and would not have been the reaction at almost every other office I have ever worked in.

“What would have been their reaction?”

“Within seconds we would have been looking for binoculars on eBay.”

No one laughed.

Now, I ‘m no expert but even I know that yoga and yoga-adjacent blogs are supposed to have some kind of profound lesson or enlightenment along the way. Otherwise what’s the point? Well, the point is just to be.

Actually, no, that’s not it, that might be another blog. Sorry, I’ll stop before I disappear up my own facetiousnarse.

The point is this. My colleagues’ reaction made me realise I was objectifying that man’s body in a way that I revile. If I was aware of someone doing that to me I would find it obscene. And then I realised that I objectify my own body. And that is equally obscene. I don’t feel the need to furnish you with details or examples of my inner monologue, you can take my word for it. It’s pretty grim. Perhaps you do it, too. I’m not sure how to stop but living the life I live it may well be impossible, we are formed by our peers and our environment waaaaaaaaaaaay more than we like to acknowledge. And here, clearly, I am speaking just for me and not the entire human race when I say “we” as that would be arrogant. But how else do you explain the cosmetic surgery epidemic? And all the really hideous tattoos?

I’m really pleased to have made this break through and to realise how fallible I am. And when I say realise, I mean be reminded. And when I say pleased, I mean chuffing heck one more thing to work on. And when I say one more thing to work on, I mean please stop.

In a few days I will be blogging about how I use humour to shield myself from myself and from the work I neeed to be doing on my enlightenment and realisation. And when I say enlightenment and realisation, I mean enlightenment and realisation.

If I squint I can see your chakras.

If I squint I can see your chakras.