So if you’re following my adventures on The Weekly Jo, you know I just moved to Brooklyn about ten days ago (hence the lag in postings!). Betwixt attending/assisting at the Yoga Journal Conference (review to follow), interviews for jobby jobs (a reference inspired by my run-in with Snoop Doggie Dog in Central Park the other day – no really, I saw him! You could feel the dude walking by, he’s such a big presence!), trainings for Hiking Yoga, hunting down a room (windowless but in a prime location!), and catching up with friends, I’ve been a busy little monkey.
And as with any major movement (just ask Bellini!) dramas are sure to ensue. I’ve seen a few potential explosions this last week, and put out quite a few before they could ignite. Others, well, let’s just say very little was destroyed in the fire!
Read on for 5 Moving Dramas I’ve experienced, and how – thanks to yoga – they could probably be avoided!
1. The anxiety of finding the “perfect” match. We all wanna live in our ideal spot. I can’t tell you how many times I went over pros and cons list of moving to New York vs. Hawaii vs. London vs. Seattle, but at some point, a decision had to be made.
And then you just gotta roll with it.
Probably the most versatile tool in my yogic belt’s been this brilliant little concept of santosha, translated from the Sanskrit as “contentment.” It’s the ability to be neither thrilled nor saddened by your situation, but to position yourself in a place of satisfaction. You can do this in any number of ways – eliminating your expectations and curbing your desires are the biggies that come to mind. Everyone has their own method, but keeping santosha at the forefront of your mind during a move will ease a lot of the tensions that come with all the new-ness.
I’ve heard the phrase “Fake it til you make it” a million times, and that same message resonates here from Thich Nhat Hanh, a prolific Vietnamese writer and Buddhist monk, and one of Martin Luther King’s major influences:
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
So smile, and be content :o)
2. Where did all the time go?! Logistics take time. Trolling through Craigslist for your brand new pad, interviewing with potential roomies/landlords, credit checks, monthly payments, calculating distance from the subway, fitting in furniture, buying new furniture, changing all your addresses, getting a new phone hookup, the works!
Going through this process, making sure I’m doing something to help me move forward each and every moment of the day, I thought back to this cool video I found on Karma Tube. It explains cultural perspectives on time, and though it doesn’t include the yogic perspective (that time is really just a man-made concept, so in this case, do as much as you can when you can), it does shed some warming light on how others might view this all-pervading idea.
3. Finding yourself on the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’
So you’ve overcome the logistics of the move, some of the boxes are unpacked and you say to yourself, “I could really use a little adventure in my new hood,” and off you go, into the great abyss, crossing this way and that, in search of nothing but open to all.
Maybe you took a map, maybe you didn’t, but you do know it’s about time you get to know your new little corner of the world. Fair enough. But as I found out, just one week into my romance with Brooklyn, it’s not hard to end up in a touch of a danger, especially if you don’t know your new terrain.
Don’t get me wrong. Having lived in London and San Fran, I do have some semblance of street knowledge under my belt. When I decided to go wandering about Prospect Park alone to figure out the new Hiking Yoga path, I was sure I was well within the realm of safety. It was light out, I was wearing pretty non-descript clothing, there were loads of other ladies walking about the place. And yet, as I turned a sharp corner, out came this nasty figure, hooded up and shuffling, who groped me somethin’ nasty, and just kept on walking!
I took a photo of the creep running away and called 911 in the hopes they could catch him, question him, and somehow find some rehabilitation for his sick little mind. It all went down so fast and with so little eye contact I’m sure he’d done it before!
So what was I to learn here? What yogic technique could help a sister out?
Well, the first thing that comes to mind is not so much yoga as a swift kung fu smack down!
But, staying true to the yama of ahimsa (nonviolence of thought, word and action!), I sat down for some time and contemplated what message was really at play here.
And I’ve come up with viveka. According to Swami Sivananda (founder of one of my yoga alma maters), viveka is “discrimination between the real and the unreal, between the permanent and the impermanent, between the Self and the non-Self.”
So, in our spiritual life, we strive to discern between what seems to be going on, and what’s really going on, from the big picture perspective. Maybe you’re in a tough spot now, but the only constant is change, so … tough it out and know that the trouble isn’t a permanent reality. It’s just one of an infinite number of ever-changing circumstances that’s bound to be followed by a new circumstance.
In this instance, and in every instance, really, we can only benefit from utilizing full yogic discernment. Before you jump into a binding lease, a house full of strangers, or a park full of weirdos, take a moment to become fully aware of what that entails. Approach not with fear, but with unwavering focus and vigilance – and a can of mace probably wouldn’t hurt!
4. Gettin’ the “Lonely City Blues,” surrounded by 8.2 million fellow homo-sapiens.
It happens. We all know that niggly feeling of loneliness, being in a new place, even if it’s just a new workplace, or perhaps not even in a new place, but in a place you’ve lived for what feels like ages.
It’s natural, it’s human. And sometimes, it’s a little self-indulgent.
Fact is, if you’re feeling lonely, and you’re not simply pampering some underlying need to revel in the soft familiar comforter of your good ‘ole self-pity (*sigh*), there are a billion ways to meet people these days. You could join OKCupid, or some other nu-skool dating site, and seek out your 99% match, even if it’s just for a friendly coffee rendezvous. (Watch this space to hear more on that little experiment…)
But from a yogic perspective …. Vedantins would say your loneliness is an illusion. Not very comforting, I know.
Bhakti Yogis would have you sing a song in praise of the Divine.
My favorite yogi answer to this inevitable little conundrum: Karma Yoga.
Just go out there and offer self-less service to some charity or organization that gives something to your community. You’ll never regret this kinda move. You meet loads of other peeps who’re down to lend a helping hand, and the hearts you touch through your efforts will warm you up faster than you can say, “Sweet Mama Theresa!”
“If you would contract, you must first expand. If you would weaken, you must first strengthen. If you would overthrow, you must first raise up. If you would take, you must first give.” Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching.
5. No money, no honey. It’s a fact: moving costs buko bucks. Trucks, movers (if you’ve got enough junks), new furniture, higher rent (hey hey hey, New York!) – the list goes on and on. So far I’ve come to grips with the fact that – at least for a while – I’ll probably end up being a lot like the immigrants in this all-too-appropriate skit from In Living Color (one of my teenage faves):
In other words, or rather, in yogic words, tapas is what we’re talkin’ about here. It’s a focused effort, usually leading to purification, that often requires the renunciation of certain worldly luxuries. Pinch your pennies, eat like a pauper, and give up those decadent $5 lattes, because those first few months (at least for me!) are definitely gonna require a reeling in of hedonistic tendencies.
(A few solid sites that’ve helped me stay healthy while living on a tight budget are Groupon and Vitacost. The latter is the cheapest site I’ve found for health foods, supplements and toiletries, definitely worth checking out!)
I’ve also been lucky enough to have a really supportive network of friends and family both in NYC and on the other side of the planet.
Loved ones + yogic techniques = :), every time.
Good luck on your next move!