"Ruburt also saw that he believed he had to justify his existence through his writing. This because he did not trust the basic right of his being as it existed, and does, in space and time.
The same artificial need to vindicate being is present in many of my readers, and various core beliefs may be built up to hide this inner insecurity. You may "justify your life" by biological creativity, and then latch onto your childen and never want to let them go. You may use your career instead. But in all cases you must come to grips with such unneccessary ideas, face the reality of your creaturehood, and see that you certainly have as much of a place in the universe as a squirrel, an ant or a leaf. You do not question their right to exist. Why question your own?"
- Seth, The Nature of Personal Reality
"You're looking at a woman that was publicly silent for a decade."
And so begins Monica Lewinksy's Ted talk. I cannot imagine the courage it would take to stand before a crowd and speak about the time the world gleefully mocked and shamed me. If there was ever a person to share why we need compassion and empathy, particularly in these times of rapant online bullying, it's Monica.
I came across this talk in an article in The Guardian. I hadn't thought about her much since the Bill Clinton scandal, but when I saw her name I was instantly curious.
When I first heard of Monica I was 16 years old. At the time it didn't seem like it, but at 24, when the news broke, Monica wasn't that much older than me. She was 22 when the whole affair started, which puts into perspective how young and naive she was, a girl seemingly trying to find her way in the world of government, a world few learn to navigate even as adults.
When I look back on that time, it's hard not to feel angry for how Monica was treated. It's hard not to imagine myself in that role. This is a joke Jay Leno made about the incident:
"Monica Lewinsky has gained back all the weight she lost last year. [She’s] considering having her jaw wired shut but then, nah, she didn’t want to give up her sex life."
If someone said that about me on national TV, and then the audience laughed like I was the most trivial, ridiculous, and lewd thing ever, I don't know that I could recover. And even if I did, I don't know how I would find it in my heart to feel any sort of trust or openness to other people.
What I know now, as an adult looking at it all, is Monica's got some grit. To be able to live through all of that and then walk through this world with her chin up is something I not only deeply admire, but it's the kind of strength and resilience I seek to nurture in myself. Thankfully, despite intense, overwhelming messages that she was nothing, worthless, scum, trash, she pulled through and is now an advocate for anti-bullying online.
“A market place has emereged where public humiliation is a commodity and shame is an industry. How is the money made? Clicks. The more shame, the more clicks. The more clicks, the more advertising dollars... The more we click on this kind of gossip the more numb we get to the human lives behind it... All the while, someone is making money off of the back of someone else's suffering. With every click, we make a choice."
Monica's main message is that not only do we need more compassion while online, but we have to realize that this is one of the biggest issues of our time. We have to realize that when someone's privacy has been hacked, when a humiliating story is shared, when someone is judged enmasse, that there is a real person on the other end of that. We have to realize that with each click on a salicious story we are supporting the privacy hackers, the gossipers, the haters. We have to realize that people end their lives because of the hatred, sorrow and humiliation they have faced online.
When I heard her story in her own words I knew I would look at things different. Just because I can anonymously read a story doesn't absolve me. It only makes me a silent partner in destroying and/or violating someone else's life.
If you'd like to hear Monica's story and know the person behind the headlines, watch the video below. There is so much I want to say about Monica and her talk, about what an undeniable badass she is, how incredibly strong and resilient she is, and about how she blew me away with her poise and intelligence. I could go on and on about how much she inspired me, and how much it got me to self-reflect on what happened and how I, like everyone else, turned my back on a person being shredded by the media and those using her for their own gain. I'm sorry Monica. To say you deserved better is too much of an understatement. We can't go back and redo what happened, but we can certainly support this woman who is a beacon of light in a world of shadows.
"I was seen by many, but known by few. And I get it. It was easy to forget that "That Woman" was dimensional, had a soul, and was once unbroken."
The winter solstice has always been special to me as a barren darkness that gives birth to a verdant future beyond imagination, a time of pain and withdrawal that produces something joyfully inconceivable, like a monarch butterfly masterfully extracting itself from the confines of its cocoon, bursting forth into unexpected glory.
I took this photo in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. I'm now back home where the mornings are frost covered and the nights chilly. I feel warm and happy when I look at this photo, remembering the beauty of the moment and how I felt there. I hope this coming year makes you feel as uplifted and peaceful as I felt sitting on this beach.
Here's a quick and easy hand mudra you can use anytime you are feeling constricted, down, or like you're holding yourself back. You can also use it to tune into a higher perspective on yourself or a situation.
Take a walk to a cozy little cabin in this guided meditation. This cabin is yours and yours alone. It's your own private sanctuary for healing, relaxation and rejuvenation. This meditation can also be used for help falling asleep.
Tonight I had my first experience with inversion yoga. I thought I knew what this was before hand but quickly realized I actually had no idea.
Inversion yoga or ropes yoga is the practice of suspending yourself in various positions, usually completely upside down, in order to allow the body to open, expand and heal.
I was interested in this because I could imagine how good this would be for your back. Inverting your body allows your spine to decompress and reverses the cumaltive effects of gravity on your body. It also increases blood flow to the head, nourishing your mind and face with oxygen rich nutrients.
Once I saw that we would be walking up a wall barefoot I started to get nervous. I had no idea this involved a wall at all - I thought it was ropes hanging from the cieling. But in fact, you use the ropes and your body weight to suspend yourself, walk up the wall, and then use different positions in order to hang.
As I wondered if I had enough upper body strength to do this I began to sweat. I was worried about slipping and falling onto my head or slamming against the wall (which made me sweat more). I wanted to run out and abandon the class all together, but I had already paid so I stuck around.
My first thought as I stepped up to the wall was, 'Trust yourself.' I could feel that's what it all boiled down to. I had to trust I could do this. I had to trust I would know when to stop if it was too much. I had to trust I was stronger than I believed. I had to trust I was more capable than I realized.
Trust yourself. You're stronger than you know. You're more capable than you know. Trust yourself.
As I went up my sweaty feet held strong. My arms also held strong, but at the same time, they let me know they could be so much stronger with proper effort. This feeling, that I am both strong and full of untapped potential, kept me going in pose after pose.
There were several different stages to the ropes class. Eventually we changed to using a swing, which I enjoyed a lot more. This involved us sitting in the seat, walking up, pressing our knees against the wall and then... leaning back. A lot more trust was needed here, but at this point I was much less nervous.
Each time we went upside down my body automatically went into some deep breathing. I don't know if the inversion did this or it was me trying to calm myself down. Either way, I felt incredible by the end of class.
Afterwards I could feel I had truly challenged not only my body, but my sense of self-limitation.
I had torn down what I thought I could do and opened to what I truly can do. It's not a class I would do every week. However, it is one I'm glad I showed up for and one I would certainly like to try again.
Below is a brief video of a man moving into a position on the yoga ropes wall. Do you have any experience with yoga ropes? What did you learn from it? Would you recommend it to others?