Juice Fast Progress

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Sum of the Parts

Tonight's the last night. Tomorrow is the last morning. Our last Emmy class is over. Our last Craig class is over.

I'm having a rough, rough day. I didn't want to end Yoga School like this. I wanted to end strong, clear, focused and shining. Instead, I'm depressed, exhausted - everything hurts. I feel so clouded. I feel like I haven't changed very much at all, like I've learned nothing. I know, intellectually, that this isn't true, but I just feel broken.

Bikram taught us the very last thing tonight - a breathing technique that is very, very powerful and potentially dangerous. He made us raise our right hands and swear that we would not practice this breathing for more than ten minutes at a time for the first six months that we practice it, and requested (less dramatically) that we not try to teach it to others. He then led us, with the lights off and our eyes closed - all two hundred and twenty (plus guests) of us in about twenty minutes of the breathing. He demonstrated first, and it was weird - he's pretty hyperactive normally, but for the demonstration he became totally, rock-solid, completely still. He reminded me suddenly of Amrit Desai, and I was reminded that he really is a guru, that it's not all just personality and charm. Then he had us follow along with him. It was SO FUCKING FRUSTRATING. I just couldn't do it. I have such tight hips that I can't sit with my legs folded and spine straight without intense pain, and it was just too strong to ignore. I have to use my abs to fight with my hips to keep me up, and as such my breathing was totally compromised and I just got nowhere. I kept feeling more and more like I have learned nothing, like I'm exactly as inflexible and manic as I was when I got here. Then afterwards people described how overcome and uplifted they were as the experience took hold of them, and I felt like I didn't even belong there. There were a few very quick moments during the breathing when I felt like I had grasped the idea, and could continue to practice it on my own, which I intend to do, so at least it wasn't totally wasted.

Craig's class this evening was fun. I didn't win the Awkward 2 contest - not by a long shot (lost my balance, rather than running out of strength, at about 1:20), but the guy who DID win came in with the new teacher training record of 3:02. HE HELD AWKWARD TWO FOR MORE THAN THREE MINUTES. I'm so impressed - he's a really cool guy too, very understated and quiet, and he was totally still and not shaking at all. Just a rock. He had a rough remainder of the class, though... As with my last few classes, I just felt heavy, full of pain, weak, and mentally worse off than I was when I got here. There's so much noise in my head - so much more than a few weeks ago, and all of it related to panic and heat and self criticism. I know that it's on its way out - hence the surge of it. The Indian Summer of my Discontent, or something like that. I had to move my mat closer to the door after the standing series, which was done as a full sprint. Seriously, Craig took maybe one breath between saying "Change" and saying "Second Set". Like the amount of time you'd spend between two sentences. I was just in awe that the class survived it. I was disappointed in myself for not being stronger or more proud, and then for moving my mat - but I find that once my heart rate goes above a certain point, no amount of breathing can seem to calm me back down. Stupid sympathetic nervous system!!! Stupid fight or flight response!!!. I'm being really hard on myself, which I think is just a result of being so tired.

Planning the graduation party is stressful. It's the same stress I feel before every party, like the Hell Party we threw after King Kong, or the Ice Ball before that - and it always works out in the end, but I think coupled with my exhaustion, it's just more stress than I can take. I'm so worried that people won't have a good time, that nobody will come, that we'll be so far from breaking even that it'll sting, that I'll be a shitty DJ, that the lights won't be enough, that it'll be too cold, that there's not enough things to sit on, that people won't enjoy an outdoor party... (and so on). And Lora's doing far more work than I am! Plus, she's doing triple classes a day! People were talking a lot today in ways that made me feel like throwing this party was a mistake - there was just this cloud of unenthusiasm that made me feel like I misjudged the group and what they'd enjoy, and that I was too presumptuous or too arrogant about planning it. But - I suppose, applying Kris Ardent's worse-case scenario approach - what's the worst case? It rains, nobody shows up, those who spent money lose a few hundred or thousand dollars each, I spin a shitty set, the yogis who do show up decide they hate my DJing and then, by extension, me... None of this is a big deal!! REALLY! Jesus. Let it go. (Still figuring out how to do that, actually).

Please just let tomorrow feel like there's some closure. that's all I really want. To feel a bit complete, or at least like one phase has completed.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


We've gotten down to counting hours. As of right now, it is 41 hours until we're done. Four classes. The last of which I'm reasonably certain we'll float through on air.

I want to go home, to rejoin my life, but also - I never want this to end. I don't even know how to process the thought of letting go of all of these loved ones, who are literally the substance of a large part of me and my life. I'm going to have to devote my life to travelling the globe just to see them all.

Classes, despite nearing the end, are NOT getting easier. Harder and harder. Clawing through by my fingertips.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The sickness.

So, my friend Lora and I have taken a bit of initiative and planned the graduation party for this saturday. Lora managed to find a MANSION ON TOP OF A HILL IN MALIBU. It's going to cost a bit more than expected, but it's going to be so magnificent. I have to call the Malibu Police Department tomorrow (stay out of Malibu, Lebowski...) and clear the event with them. This is hilarious.

However, as part of this planning process, Lora and I have to go to Malibu tomorrow morning, and Craig excused us from the morning Yoga class, without having to do makeups. So - dig this for sickness. I'm waking up at 5:45 tomorrow morning to do the 7am class because I have six classes left to graduate, and I'm not missing one. Can you believe this? What kind of person behaves like this? ONLY JUNKIES.

I love party planning. I LOVE IT!!! And I get to DJ, though I have absolutely no set prepared, and my set notes for my Hell Party set are in storage. I'm going to have to use my new Yoga superpowers to put a set together with no planning! Hoot!!!!.

Six classes to go.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Not much to say except...

85 down. 8 to go.


Monday, June 05, 2006

The End Is Near

Friday night we had a talent show. I was trepidatious prior to the event, for some reason worried that I would be uncomfortable or bored or I don't know what - I'm not sure why I didn't greet the evening with openness and enthusiasm. I sat in the back, near the door, a bit disengaged. This was foolish. I failed to remember that amongst our 220-ish band of sweating yogis, there are more than a few professional entertainers. I've mentioned before the woman who is a presenter for a BBC music show - she and another dutch man with the most amazing voice (who is a dancer) were the MC's for the evening, and they were amazing. Their jokes were actually FUNNY, and their delivery was fast-paced, energetic, and seemingly effortless. The talent show was wonderful. So many different voices and songs and dances - there was a group dance where we all got up and danced together, and my single favorite moment of the evening was a dance by Dax, who up until now had been my single largest frustration here at yoga camp (besides my own failings, of course). Dax may very well be a Jack Black's long lost twin brother. It made me realize that, for all my love of Jack Black, going to yoga school with him might be challenging. We danced for about a half an hour to some trance music after the talent show was over, and it was fantastic fun. Afterwards, I was excited and infused with energy and enthusiasm, and asked Craig if I could help plan the graduation party and spin at it. He agreed. So - if the cosmos are willing and we can find a venue that we can afford (we've got a few possibilities), next saturday I'm going to spin a breaks set for my yogis. I'm going to start with my hell party set and try to rebuild it with a slightly less dark tone.

Today I attened a meditation session led by one of our other yogis, Ulises. He is this deep, spiritual and calm man who teaches and leads meditation circles, and seems just like a shaman walking amongst us. I was a little nervous about the meditation, I think because of a combination of not knowing what to expect and fearing that my emotions might come out in front of ALL THOSE PEOPLE. Gasp. We started the meditation at around 6pm in a dark meeting room here at our yoga dorm, after getting reprimanded for sage wanding the room. ("Who's smoking marijuana in here??!?!?!?"). My hips are tight, which makes sitting with my legs folded and my spine straight immensely painful, and I have great difficulty keeping my back from rounding to place less pressure on the hips. So, the first whole part of the meditation, during which we were breathing very very deeply, gradually increasing the speed of our breaths, was really frustrating for me. I felt like the dominant part of my experience was the shifting pain in my body as I tried to find a comfortable sitting position. I kept being distracted by the worry that our circle would be interrupted by the Oakwood staff (we were starting to get quite loud as the breaths became more primal). And then - at some point that I don't precisely remember, all of the various tinglings in my body merged into one whole body tingling and the pain went away. It was orgasmic and engulfing and so vivid - not abstract in the slightest - I was thrilled at the feeling of ENERGY, this thing I keep trying to narrowly define and wrap my head around and find an equation for - it was so obvious, so simple, so THERE, that I didn't have to look for it. I kept thinking, "I understand now, I understand now, I understand now". The heartbeat of the room got faster and faster. The music playing underneath our breathing became more primal, darker. Ulises sometimes let out gutteral screams, like an animal. Other people followed. Sobs and tears began erupting around me, but all tied to this passionate, almost obscene breath that rose and fell fast and faster, spinning and spinning. My eyes were closed and I was rocking around on my seat and rolling lightly back and forth. The speed and force of my breath causing me to almost convulse. And there was this bloom of light, like a water balloon bursting in my chest - like the chilled pear shot at Alinea - a splash of light inside of me, and I had this rush of seeing all the places in my life and my world where I am a conduit, a channel for happiness and joy for others. The parties we throw in Wellington - the smiles I share with everyone I see, the laughs we all have together. It wasn't a denial of having any moments where I'm not perfect, but just a celebration of all the good things I am and that I share with the world. I felt my whole spirit grow tall inside me and stand up and take responsibility and ownership of all these amazing and wonderful things that I can bring and share with the world. I felt like I was being born. I felt like I could hear bells, like everyone in the room must be realizing what was happening to me, the dead skins that were finally coming off. I felt my smile grinning off my face so big that the room couldn't hold me. And I just started laughing, uncontrollably. It just got louder, and more hilarious, and I couldn't stop smiling - the tears were pouring down my cheeks and I was just laughing and laughing and laughing - soon the room, even the people who were crying - started laughing with me. Ulises started laughing as he led us in the meditation. I'm finally here. My eyes are finally open. I don't need to apologize any more. I'm not smaller than my body - from now on, my body will barely hold me in. And maybe this has been there all along.

As the meditation cooled down and the breaths got slower, we all drew closer and closer into the middle of the circle until there was just a big pile of hugging people, all breathing slowly with their eyes closed. There were heads resting on my belly, my head rested on someone's arm - a back leaning against my feet, and we just stayed there and breathed. It was the best e-puddle I've ever been in, and we were all sober (though distinctly inebriated - oxygen's a drug like any other!!!). I felt like I could feel everybody - I mean, of course I could feel the people who were lying on top of me or whom I was lying on top of, but beyond that - I felt like I knew where each of us was in the room, like I could see them with my eyes closed. I don't know how long we were there - it felt like forever and just a moment. When we finally broke up and came back to normal consciousness, it had been well over two hours. We all shared our experiences somewhat, had a short chant, and went out into the world. Everything smelled intense and fragrant - the colors, despite the sun having mostly gone down, were saturated and pulsing. I want to share this kind of experience with my friends in New Zealand, if any are interested. I am not the shaman that Ulises is, but perhaps he can impart a small seed in me to take back. I'd like that.

The last week is upon me. I am ready for it to be over, ready to feel the final finishing touches to my changes occur, to stand up and face Vader so I may at last become a true Jedi. Already know that which I need. There's only ten yoga classes left until the end. This next week will have no posture clinic - only lectures from Bikram on the essence of teaching his class, on the guts of the poses, on how to breathe. His final gift to us is a lecture in a kriya yoga breathing technique that was taught by Yogananda - part of the meditation that can eventually replace sleep for a yogi. I'm ready. Still, I'm also sad, in a way. I am starting to miss people already, I'm already making plans to see as many people as I can as I travel the world, and thinking about how my life will be, and what I want from it. I saw Xmen3 in the theater yesterday, and I was incredibly proud and humbled by the work that my colleagues and I did. My proudest moment in the film was seeing the shots that I left unfinished in their final state - knowing that the guys on my team did all of that without me, that they stepped up to the plate and created something more beautiful, I think, than what we would have made if I had stayed. Bravo, you guys, You rock. And this confirmed in me the truth that I still love being an effects artist - I will just have to find a balance in life. But I don't think that'll be a problem. I have balance now.

Bring it on.