Juice Fast Progress

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Two Thirds Done!!!

Man, this obsession with fractions! Still, it's the end of the sixth week. Our saturday morning classes were cancelled because we left too much sweat on the floor prior to Bikram's 10:00 am classes, and Bikram cancelled them. It feels really wonderful to sleep in. And TWO DAYS of sleeping in! Can you imagine??? I like how this experience makes the little things so valuable. Like a nap is pure gold nowadays - a nap longer than 30 minutes? Platinum! Diamond! A neck rub or a back rub! All the riches from all the worlds...

Last night I reread this journal from the beginning, and I find it surprising. I'm surprised at how convinced I was that I couldn't do this, or at least how willing I was to say that - but is that really the deep truth? I think maybe the case is more that something deep inside me knows and knew that I could do this, and only this outer layer of learned self-doubt was providing that negative voice. Coming here is like the deep core declaring war on the negative outer layers, which is great. I'm also surprised that the "mental noise" battle in yoga seems to be a constant theme - and that's still with me. As classes get more manageable, I really am spending more and more time confronting this interminable mental "I can't do this" chatter - well, more klaxons than chatter.

We are told over and over and over, "Let it go". When I was in therapy with Cary during our separation and afterwards, I was given that advice over and over - also I've had acupuncturists say the same thing to me. I've generally found it really frustrating, since I don't feel like I'm choosing to hold onto things, I don't feel like I choose what thoughts and responses come into my head. Similarly, I'm not sure how to choose to "Get out of my Head", as I keep hearing this last week. But... I have a theory! A mild variation on "Give what you want to Get", one of my favorite Bikram sayings (though he's certainly not the only person to teach that). I think that the more time I spend thinking about other people and the things in other people's lives that I am drawn to and inspired by, and the less time I spend thinking about myself, the less power this chatter will have. I don't think the point of this whole exercise is for me to be able to look in the mirror and like what I see, so much as it is for me to look in the mirror far less often! Or, as our wonderful teacher Luke said yesterday in his goodbye, when he looks out and sees us all over the last few weeks, he gets to see himself. So - to the extent that I need to see myself, I'll try to start with looking at other people and the things I love about them. Of course, that doesn't really apply to class, so there I'll just breathe.

We said goodbye to Luke, and any doubts left in my mind about the presence and tangibility of energy are gone. As he finished his goodbye, clearly trying to hold back tears, everybody stood up and gave him a standing ovation. The energy in the room was so tangible, so strong, I could feel all of my skin tingling, all of the hairs on my arms standing on end, my breath shimmering, my pupils dilating. Luke was turning bright red and trembling. Then, Group 4 gave him a present and a group hug, then Group 3 gave him a group hug, and then everybody just got up and got into it. I was in a group hug with more than a hundred people! It was beyond amazing, and I was just so happy for Luke. He looked so overwhelmed, and I just kept imagining what it would be like to be given such a gift from people who you've been so instrumental in awakening. I want to go to New York with Clodagh just to take Luke and Troy's classes.

But, as a fantastic woman often says, IT'S THE FREAKIN' WEEKEND!!!! Time for movies and sun and all sorts of fun that will make monday yoga that much harder!

Triangle Man, Triangle Man, Triangle Man hates Particle Man
They have a Fight, Triangle Wins, Triangle Man.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Yoga Prison

I'm feeling better today, in a resigned sort of way. I still feel like this experience is infinite and will never end, but I'm not quite holding my breath for the end as I have been. I have gotten a lot of encouragement from friends here at yoga camp and friends who leave me comments here on this blog or write me emails, and that helps immeasurably.

Yoga classes are definitely getting easier to survive physically, but the mental chatter is seemingly increasing in volume. My brain wants OUT of that room, even though I'm not dying in the postures as much as I used to. My concentration, despite the noise, has increased, which is interesting.

We had a lecture today from "The Fascia Guy". He's a body health worker - I'm not sure how to describe him, he's not a doctor, more of a yoga-therapist energy-worker. It was interesting, but it was also the first time in this training when my skepticism and analytic side got really involved, and in general I was extremely annoyed. Mostly because the assertions made in the lecture about the nature of Fascia in the body and the descriptions of Energy (Chi, Mana, Prana...) were delivered in such an over-simplified, generalized way. It was impossible to take something seriously that completely and totally discarded all of psychiatry with a wave of the hand, for example. Rather than describe his lecture, I'll let him speak for himself: Jon Burras . I didn't disagree with his central point, which is that most things we do in western society hurt the body, and yoga fixes it, "all over, inside out, from the bones to the skin". The more I'm here, the more absolutely certain I am of that basic assertion. This yoga fixes EVERYTHING. So - I was disappointed in myself for not keeping an open mind, but I just couldn't handle the repeated demonization of "science", as a general term. I feel like science gets bashed by Yogis a fair bit, who then turn around and completely abuse Quantum Physics and Relativity Theory without real understanding of the underlying concepts. To anyone reading who buys into these things, let me state clearly and unambiguously: The Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle is NOT APPLICABLE to every situation in life. It is applicable ONLY on a QUANTUM ELECTRODYNAMIC SCALE, which means at the scale of the size of atoms.

Emmy said something in class this morning that rocked me a little bit, unexpectedly. In an offhand way, she said, "now that you are Yogis, you are going to live much longer than normal people, so you have to take better care of you body so it lasts for you". (Paraphrasing). I've always assumed I would die young, and the thought, presented so simply and factually by Emmy, snapped my eyes open - it's TRUE! I'm going to live longer, healthier, happier! And so will all my loved ones, since I force them all to do yoga with me! Hoot!!! Yeah, I'll survive this yoga prison. One more time... Bring it on.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sad, lonely, homesick

I miss home. I miss Clodagh. My friends are dispersing, leaving New Zealand - Trina's gone! Virginia's gone! It feels like the things that made home "home" aren't there anymore. It scares me. Clodagh's leaving for the South Island in a few days, which scares me for some reason - I feel like I'm not part of anything except yoga camp anymore. I don't even feel like I'm part of Weta, or like there's a Weta to be a part of anymore.

I feel like this yoga camp is never going to end. I know that's what everybody feels like right now - I'm right on schedule. That doesn't make this easier. I'm exhausted - EVERYTHING hurts, everything's swollen or in pain - if I move my back or knees even one degree out of alignment, I turn into a big pain machine. I guess this is a cool way of being forced to do the poses with correct form, but it's merciless!

I have no idea what I'm going to do with my life when I get back to New Zealand. I know that I can't continue to work in the same way at Weta - I know that Weta needs to get healthy, as a company, or it'll eat itself alive. It already is, the cracks are showing. But I don't know if that's something I can help to change. I don't know if other people feel similarly about Weta - feel that it's a wonderful, noble institution that has, through neglect not born of malign, become unhealthy. And if they do feel similarly, do they think things can change? Should change? And yet, despite my feeling unable to operate in the same capacity, I still feel like I can guide people when I am asked questions, I feel like my knowledge and wisdom are sharper than ever - my ability to concentrate is orders of magnitude higher than it once was.

I feel HELPLESS! I can't drive myself anywhere, I have no control over anything around me. I know that this is entirely the point, but I hate it - my whole life has been about creating and molding my environment, and now I feel like I have less control than I had when I was a freshman in high school. GAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! Sigh. I'm just exhausted with all of this. Yoga classes are not even all that difficult anymore - they're challenging, but I'm kinda zombieing through them, just doing what I can but not pushing to my limit, because I have no energy. And I still barely understand what energy is!!!

I'd love to know how to make this panic go away. I asked Luke, one of the teachers, and he answered (somewhat tough-love-ishly, which I understand) that my emotions are not in control of me unless I let them be. Bikram said something similar in lecture the other night - we control our emotions, or at least our responses to them. Surely there's a pose that will fix this - Next is panic-removing-pose.

And, to add to all of this, another confusing tidbit. Bikram gives people nicknames - lamppost, chickenlegs, "idiot", miss pink, miss blue. I answered one of his questions the other night, and he said, "Correct. You must have studied. Give a big hand for (slight pause)... the Jeweler". What?

Monday, May 15, 2006


Here's a quick and easy way to floor and otherwise incapacitate half of a room full of experienced yogis. All you have to do is cause a giant humidity wave to come into the city, making the humidity in the room over 80%, so that there's a visible haze around the lights and a visible, light fog from one side of the room to the other. Exhale breathing, and YOU GO DOWN.

Seriously, it was like a bomb went off today. Dozens of people left the room in the morning class. I fought my hardest struggle with the annoying "leave the room right now" voice that I've fought so far. Fortunately, there was a teacher right behind me and she did that thing with her eyes at one point when I caught her gaze of, "don't you even THINK of leaving the room". So I didn't, and it SUCKED. I felt like my skin was burning, or like I had gotten the worst sunburn of my life. But I made it, so once again, I have one less thing I'm allowed to get away with one things get uncomfortable. Dammit.

I froze in posture clinic today, during Toe Stand. It was trippy. I practiced this posture a lot, probably more than any other so far except half moon, and I got up there and just went completely blank. I couldn't think of a single word to say. It felt like an eternity, but was apparently only a few seconds. SUCKS!!! And it has nothing to do with nervousness, and nothing to do with practice! Fuck!!! Still, I grudgingly admit it was a good learning experience, and I know what to do to unfreeze if it ever happens - ditch the dialog, look at where the students are, think of what step comes next, and paraphrase. The dialog snaps back like magic, but it still SUCKED!!!

In this afternoon's class, there was a photographer from USA today taking pictures of Bikram teaching. I was right in front of him on the podium, so the photographer took a lot of photos with me in them, and was hovering around me quite a bit. There's nothing like the threat of ending up in a national newspaper doing a pose WRONG to make you concentrate like HELL. I couldn't kick my knee out in Standing Head to Knee, so he took one photo where everyone in the line was kicking out EXCEPT ME!!! Let's hope that my nipple piercings rule me out for inclusion in a family newspaper. Still, I got some good positive feedback from Bikram - he declared that my second set of Balancing Stick was perfectly parallel, which is so cool!!! Also, I touched my head to the floor in Standing Separate Leg Stretching, which I've never done. It was incredibly difficult, but when Bikram is two feet away and yelling at you to do something, generally, you do it. He walked around the room and made manual adjustments to various people's poses while the photographer clicked away madly, and it was really cool.

I received a package today from Anika, the director of the yoga studio I go to in Wellington. Inside was the most heartwarming gift imaginable... When I first started doing Bikram, I was basically completely sedentary, and started right into a 30 day challenge. My first instructor was a beautiful Canadian woman named Dagmar, and she gave me little gold stars on my chart when I completed classes. I think I was the first to get a star, because in those early days, I needed every form of encouragement I could get. I spent most of my first two weeks on the mat, lying down, gasping for air and praying for dear life. My package from Anika today contained about a dozen big gold stars, and on the back of the stars is written encouraging, inspiring, and heartwarming comments from all the students in the yoga classes. I teared up instantly upon realizing what they were! It's incredible!!! I don't feel worthy at all, but I'm determined to make everybody proud and to come back and kick the SHIT out of all of them in class (lovingly). So, if any of you are out there, thank you from the bottom of my heart, I'm touched and humbled. Who knew you could get a group hug from across the ocean?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

So much!

It's been a few days since I've written down my thoughts, and it's really too long. I find that so much happens, at least in my head and my thoughts, that the thoughts from just a few days ago, thoughts I'd like to remember and have a record of as part of this experience, start to get pushed out of my memory. I'll do my best remember everything.

Bikram's last lecture, on thursday, contained an interesting tirade/dissertation on love. He was discussing the body and reached a natural stopping point, at which point he asked if anyone had any questions. A few simple questions were asked that he dispatched quickly, and then a very brave girl from Amsterdam stood up and asked, "You have told us that, as westerners, we fall in love and get into relationships too quickly, and thus we fall out of love and get divorced. How did you fall in love with your beautiful wife, and how did you know it was love?". I thought this was a very brave question to ask, especially considering Bikram's reaction. He practically exploded with the words, "WHO THE HELL EVER TOLD YOU I LOVE MY WIFE?". Gasps around the room of dismay. Bikram loves getting a reaction, and did not miss this opportunity. But people were feeling bold, I guess, and challenges started erupting from around the room, and even from the brave girl who remained standing. You don't love your wife? "We have nothing in common! Nothing to talk about! My parents and my guru said, you should marry this girl, so I did! Obligation! Duty! Love doesn't exist!!!" What about your children? "Obligation! Duty!" More gasps. What about Shirley Maclaine? "She and I are friends! We have more in common than uncommon. We talk about yoga, and making movies, and other things. But that's friends. There is no such thing as love!". Bikram getting louder and louder with each retort, gasps and challenges more and more audible. The room, in general, becoming charged. Nobody sleeping secretly in the back anymore.

Bikram paused for a moment, and the room did too. He took a breath, relaxed his posture slightly, and exhaled. He then described love in such a beautiful and succinct way - I will try to do it justice, but I fear that I will not be able to be as succinct. He first of all said that he would give his life in a moment if it would bring Rajashree happiness. This seemed contrary to his earlier statements. He then said that he would give his life in a moment if it would bring his children happiness. When a person has achieved self realization, and has gotten to know and understand his spirit, then that person can learn to love himself and honor himself completely. When a person who has learned to know and love themselves beyond their illusions, and they meet another person who has accomplished the same, and their spirits have their joys in common, those spirits can join to become something greater. (I wish I could remember the sanskrit words. I want to say that Atma is the spirit and Mahatma is the greater spirit formed by the union of Atmas, but I just don't know for certain). That greater spirit in turn can join with the greater cosmic spirit that ties us all together, and become yet again something bigger.

We are all children of the first spirit, and as the "family tree" of our spirits has branched and branched and branched throughout the ages, our individual spirits have grown apart, but they still all share that common root - and "spiritual love" is when those spirits rediscover their sameness in each other, remembering the single root from which they came and feeling that truly, they are one together. I was very moved by this - I don't feel like I've done it justice, and my understanding and resonation is incomplete, but still, I was very struck by this. It makes sense. It explains, or incorporates, the experience that so many of us have had wherein we feel instantly connected to someone at a glance. It explains how, as you discover and grow closer to someone else over time, you know what they're going to say before they say it, think of the same songs you haven't sung in ten years at exactly the same time. If anyone who heard this lecture remembers it differently, or had a different impression, please leave me a comment - I'd love to get a different perspective on what he said or we heard. It was such a strange and jarring experience - "LOVE DOESN'T EXIST! Here is a beautiful and succinct and limitless description of spiritual love that we all share.".

I think part of Bikram's tirade against love has to do with they syntactical imprecision of how we use the word "love" in the english language. He said, "You say you love ice cream, you love a song, you love this wallpaper, you love your children, you love your wife! What is that? It doesn't exist!". I understand what he means... you can't really define love in a specific way if you use the word love in so many different ways, and so I think Bikram's annoyance at the word has a lot to do with the fact that it doesn't translate to a specific thing, but is instead entirely contextual. So what is love? Which love? The love you have for chocolate? The love you have for your grandmother? The butterflies in your stomach when you talk to your sweetheart? The devotion you feel to your spouse?. So yeah, if we use that word "love" for everything, we steal the power of the word to mean anything specific our profound. But I like Bikram's elaboration on "spiritual love", and will think of it the next time I look into someone's eyes and tell them I love them. I wonder how Bikram feels about the word "dude".

I spoke to my mother today to wish her a happy mother's day, and it was the best conversation I've ever had with my mom. First of all, she did most of the talking, instead of me, which was really great. I don't feel like I've had a lot of opportunity to see what my mom is like as a person, independently of her role as my authority figure and my elder. She's younger than many of the people I work with and many of the people I regard as peers. She was telling me about the last few days and hours of my grandfather's life - her father. He died very recently, and she stayed by his side in Florida through much of the very end. She was telling me about how my grandfather regained his lucidity and personality, lost some of his dementia, towards the end - how he seemed to recognize her again. My grandfather was a B-17 pilot in WWII who flew 17 missions as a captain before being shot down over Germany and spending almost a year in a German POW camp. He was not badly abused, but was severely underfed. Fortunately the war ended shortly after he was imprisioned and he was liberated by Russian soldiers. He was a very deep seeming man - definitely crazy at times. Interestingly, my mom said that he used to do something that was like Yoga that he learned, and told my mother that he had learned to breathe through his feet. The more I learn about breathing, the less crazy this sounds. More than a few times recently, I have found myself asking whatever part of his spirit is in me for help getting through yoga class, and I do feel like something, very very little, opened up in me. My mother told me about all of the different ways my grandparents who have passed (and my great grandparents) have shown themselves to her, in small ways, after they departed, and the peace it gave her. These are things I would have not really heard, or at least have discarded, until really very recently - and I'm really glad I don't have to shut myself away from sharing those experiences anymore. Still, in the end the nicest part was just hearing my mom talk a lot, unaffected. It was scary hearing her talk about how she panicked in the hospice and couldn't stop crying, and it made my grandfather panic because he knew he needed to die but didn't know how to die. I felt such sadness - and still do, even now - at the thought of knowing it's your time to go, being at peace with it, but not knowing how to die. They don't teach us how do die, we never even talk about it. Bikram's guru knew how to die - when it was his time, he simply withdrew his spirit from his body. Perhaps I can learn that, for when my time comes. Thank you, mom. Happy mother's day!!!

Last, but not least - I had an experience today that drove home how much I'm changing - or returning - to some previous confidence. I have had to deal with some business matters from my former company while I've been here. Most of the interaction has been through email up to this point, but today I had to speak on the phone to further negotiate. I could not believe my own voice - I was totally calm, confident - I spoke concisely, and did not get emotionally bound up with the reactions and interactions. I stated my needs and my positions and my offers clearly, hearing my exact thoughts coming out in my spoken words, without all the confusion and jumbling I've come to expect from myself. I felt so powerful! The negotiations went so well, we reached a compromise that we were happy with - and I just felt like I was an entirely new person. I'm so excited for the next time I have to negotiate with someone, it was so much fun! And it was all the better that I really wasn't too attached to how it came out. That made things far easier to say, demands easier to state, compromises easier to stomach.

Every time I feel like I've shed the last of a skin in this yoga camp process, about 1 or 2 days later I get knocked on my ass. Let's hope, for mercy's sake, that tomorrow isn't too unkind. Bring it on, cursed Monday...