Fire & Ice

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Karma Yoga is happening January 28, 2014!  7pm in midtown NYC.  Proceeds benefit V-Day Foundation.  Email sweenes@gmail.com or check out our Facebook event to RSVP!

It is cold.  Bone-chilling, teeth-chattering, wind-whipped cold.  Every corner I turn feels like a sharp, sting slap in the face.

I hate to be cold.  I really do.  A Florida girl to the core, I thrive on sunshine and warmth. I have an extremely low tolerance for it to begin with.  In the middle of July, I have a cardigan thrown over my arm, just in case the coffee shop feels a little chilly.

The other thing about the cold is, it makes me mad.  Irrationally angry.  I think it’s the combination of powerlessness to get my body warmer and the refusal to accept that “just being cold for now” is, well, acceptable.  Being hot is a state in which I can function.  Being cold is a state I find intolerable.

So I think it is this cold, this enduring, relentless deep freeze, which has tapped into my anger lately.  Oh sure, I also get irrationally angry at things like my doctor’s office randomly canceling my appointments and then making me wait forever for a simple visit, or my cable company’s inability to do just about anything correctly (you know who you are).  But lately it’s been more than that.

I don’t really like to get angry, not with people I truly care about.  I prefer, instead, to understand.  Understand their motives, their reasons, their insecurities, and try to manage from there.  I try to be- not the bigger person in comparison to them, but the bigger person in comparison to my smaller self, I suppose.  I have thought at times that if I could just understand enough of the why behind someone’s words or actions, that I could put myself in their shoes so much that the whole mess would just dissolve.

Now believe me, I am not perfect.  I still get upset, I still say unkind things, I still speak first and think afterward sometimes.  But I do try to live with compassion, as best I can.  However, there is a fine line between being an understanding person and a doormat.  I have been stepped on before.

And for whatever reason, whether it be circumstantial, or the frosty air, or something in the stars, I have felt angry.  And my first impulse is to quash my impulse, to tamp it down just when I feel it catch in my throat.  To deny that there is ever a breaking point in what I am able to tolerate, in how much I am able to give, before I start to get pissed off.

When I teach a class, I have this one idea that I mention often after camel pose.  That whatever sensation comes up after you put yourself in that shape is not wrong.  It might be deep, despairing sadness or white hot fury.  It could be joy, or discomfort, or pain, or rage.  And the only way to move beyond that feeling is to acknowledge it, to give it what is due, and to offer support in the way of stillness and breath.

And so I’ve been thinking, maybe this getting angry, this proclivity toward lashing out, isn’t an impulse to be stamped out, or worse, to be punished.  Maybe it’s one more layer getting peeled back in this discovery of who I am.  And if I allow it to exist, and I continue to breathe, it can get unstuck, and perhaps eventually turn into something else.

Be well.