I reminded my friend yesterday that the new year was 3 weeks away. Already. I am only just now barely getting used to writing “2017” on the three occasions I have needed to use a pencil this year. (That could very well make the theme of a future blog – in the new year: the long lost art of handwriting. For now, I will only say that I am thankful for the practice of yoga asana that helps keep my joints, fingers, and toes supple and mobile. Also, pens are so 2016. Hb2 pencils are currently all you need to qualify for extraordinariness – albeit three times a year.)
Back to the present moment and its stark realities. We are all guilty of putting off habits, attachments, addictions, and work we need to release and/or dive into until the “new year,” a distant future – 3 weeks away. Another arrant certainty of our modern times is the fact this “putting off” is a coping and bypassing mechanism that buys us time and gives us false permission to stay on the current comfortable, predictable path that we know is not serving our growth. In many cases, it even empowers us to indulge licentiously in our addictions. By the time this far off date sets in, the expectation we have for ourselves is that we will be equipped with the discipline and resilience we need to do whatever our own internal intelligence has been begging of us for some time. Our bodies know; have known since the day we were born. A disconnect happens between the gut and the brain – the cerebrum to be exact, which is associated with higher brain functions like “thinking.”
So you wake up one morning with your cerebrum at optimal functionality, say 3 weeks before the new year, having made the decision to quit smoking. You have known for a long time that smoking is not serving your health. Every time you step out for a smoke, you are frustrated with yourself for this addiction. Your cough is incessant. Even you can smell yourself now. Your teeth and gums are so discoloured, no amount of whitening can mask the damage. Your skin is grey. The number of smoking buddies is dwindling. You feel alone, disappointed in yourself, and more certain than ever that at some point, your relationship with the cigarette is going to have to end. You are tired of hiding out from your kids lest you set a bad example. If you happen to work in an enlightened establishment, you are running low on tricks to pretend not to notice the disappointment in colleagues’ eyes. (If you work with the Jordanian government, you are in good company. Queen Alia Airport is also a great environment for smokers.) And this is only the surface. You wonder what is going on inside your body that you cannot see. You anxiously await the day your luck runs out with the Russian roulette game you are playing with your life.
On this morning, you are hopeful that you have set the wheels in motion. From here on, and for the next 3 weeks, every time you reach for a cigarette, the disappointment and sense of loneliness and frustration with yourself are replaced with a celebratory elation. You know this is not permanent. Instead of self-admonishment, you are congratulating yourself on your admirable prowess and tenacious will that are magically scheduled to show up – in 3 weeks. And instead of the 15 cigarettes a day you normally smoke, you give yourself permission to smoke 30. Your usual 315 cigarettes over a period of 21 days are replaced with 630.
The latest research indicates that somewhere between 40 and 50% of adults make “new year“ resolutions. Of those, only 10% manage to stick to their resolutions for more than a few months, with a tiny fraction only succeeding in any permanent commitment.
Of the many benefits of yoga, balance is at the helm. (The word itself comes from the root “union,” evoking the concept of harmony and togetherness in all aspects of our being.) This balance is unique, the kind that envelops, guides, and sustains every facet of our lives, in a soft, effortless, organic manner. It is the kind that dictates every choice we make, every word we speak, and every relationship we build. This balance is what has starkly uncovered the flaws of our human race. As I write these words, the US administration is getting ready to announce its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of colonial Israel. While this announcement comes as no shock, changing nothing on the ground for the last 69 years, it shows clearly how off balance we have gone as a human race, not merely satisfied with quietly condoning colonization, genocide, and injustice, but also licentiously indulging in our imbalanced existence by investing every effort we have to celebrate our skewed partiality – smoking 10,000 cigarettes at a time through every orifice in our body. I like to imagine that Donald Trump must have awakened one morning “enlightened” to commit to strict adherence to imbalance in every form of his reality before the 3-week deadline to the end of the year is reached. (It makes sense. He – along with the establishment, guru, and powers behind him, move in the other direction.)
We had our first whole, plant-based community meet-up last night. Turns out these meet-ups, referred to as “vegan meet-ups,” are a thing – much like Hb2 pencils. I have a feeling this community of awakened humans choosing to live a life in balance is quite substantial. And growing. And whole-heartedly invested in its evolution into balance.
Which takes me right to my point: investment. And I don’t mean the financial type. Nor do I refer to the elusive investment in new year resolutions and bypassing tools that sanctify 630 cigarettes. That “false hope,” fallacious future investment. I mean the profound, authentic, organic one. The one that involves our health and well-being. The investment whose compass is balance, that balance we are gently led to through the path of yoga. And spiritual, mindful living.
“It blows my mind that people will do anything they can to get better once they’re sick, but when they’re well, they don’t do everything they can to stay well.” – Marco Borges
As we sat around a variety of healthy, nourishing plant-based dishes last night, I thought about choices, goals, and deadlines. And I also thought about what we take for granted, and the fortunate few who have their wake-up calls so gentle they sound like a soft symphony of soothing music. And then I was reminded of the gifts that the path of yoga has so generously given me.
Forgive me if my words seem harsh. I have a sense of urgency to remind you that your body is made to function in a state of balance – homeostasis. That is the natural order of our existence. It takes so much effort to push it to function off balance. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. The hypothalamus in our brain is involved in homeostasis, or the body’s equilibrium. Our job is to make sure we support it to function at its optimal, natural vibration. This means that the choices we make should be governed by one metric only: balance. “Am I supporting my human existence to live in a state of balance?” should guide every aspect of our life and relationships with all beings, including this planet we call home. It is really very simple. Start now. Not in 3 weeks. Because the strength and will-power you secretly doubt will appear in 3 weeks are right there in your gut and your cerebrum. You know you need to stop smoking. What are you waiting for? Then pick up a pencil and practice some handwriting.
Thank you to the power that inspired the Hb2 pencil reference. This blog materializes from human interactions occasionally – but mostly from WhatsApp messages with other souls on a quest to balance.