After 5 years and one, 40 hour immersion of yoga, I learned about the most about Tantric philosphy from one tiny bug, whom we shall call Don Juan/Gregor.
One of the Anusara teachings that I think is most enticing, but hardest to accept, is the concept of “Radical Affirmation.” Radical affirmation stems from teachings of Anusara philosopher Douglas Brooks, called Rajanaka yoga. The core philosophy of this teaching is that embodiment is a gift. This is quite different from other yoga, which aims to make us forget we have a body, indicates that earthly life is suffering and asks to remove ourselves from the tangible experience of it.
One thing that Anusara and regular yoga agree on is that life is frequently immensely unpleasant. But Rajanaka tells us that all these unpleasantries can be felt, used as teachers, and transformed into a positive experience. As my teacher Cari Friedman said, you get your shrouds so you can relish the experience of removing them. You are so much more interesting and evolved post-shroud! You’d be totally static if you hadn’t been mocked in 7th grade, boyfriendless in high school and sneered at by sorority girls in college, right? (sigh).
Anyway, the way this applies in real life is you’re supposed to learn from all the bad stuff, which may include your failings. In my immersion journal, I wrote that while I pretended to think Radical Affirmation was a great idea, I was really being flippant. When hit with actual impediments, I shattered in billions of very negative, very sharp, pieces.
Until Tuesday that is. On Tuesday, I discovered the meaning of Radical Affirmation. On Tuesday morning, I woke up and decided to fold some clothing that was on my bed before I made it. I was feeling good! I was cleaning! Then, I reached down to pull the covers over my bed, something I (ironically) do because I’m paranoid that I ever leave my bed unmade, a bug will crawl in. Sadly, Don Juan/Gregor had beat me to the punch. He was small, round and creeping around the sheets as if he owned the place! (That’s what she said…anyone?)
Of course, I panicked. Suffice it to say: no one wants an unidentified bug in their bed. I quickly scooped him up with a tissue, threw him out and then froze. I was going to have to find out what he was, but my computer was at work. I’d have to wait for for my roommate to wake up at 7, and borrow her computer when she checked her email.
So I went running. Each step I took in dawn-lit Prospect Park felt like the ticking down of a bomb. This run might be the last 40 minutes of my life when I didn’t yet have bed bugs. I was numb, and consumed by anxious thoughts. I found myself looking desperately at each person I passed, thinking, “do you know what the bug is? do you know if I’m doomed?” I tend to repeat phrases in my head when I run…and I was round the corner at 16th st when I realized I had been saying over and over again, “Google Bed Bugs. Google Bed Bugs.” for about 2.4 miles.
“You idiot!” I chastised myself. “You’ve not going to use Google. You’ll use SweetSearch.”
Finally, I got home, somberly entered our kitchen and approached my roommate. “I need to search for something, but I’m not telling you what it is until I know for sure.” Silently, she stood up. Peering over my shoulder as I typed despite my effort to protect her, she asked, “Do you still have the bug?”
I retrieved him from the garbage can and unfolded the tissue. We compared, we contrasted. We were 99% percent sure that my bedmate was not a bed bug. “You should get him IDed, to be sure.” My roommate suggested. “Won’t someone at your office know?”
So the bug ended up in a take-out salad dressing container, in my tote bag on the N train to Manhattan. When I pulled him out at the office, I notice two things: 1) He was really cute, and 2) He was alive.
As my co-workers trickled in, I ran up to each of them wielding my salad dressing container and my “cute bug” asking, “Can you give an ID on a bed bug?” Basically, it was a horrible, anxiety provoking situation to be in. Except it wasn’t. It was really fun.
In fact, everyone was kind of amused. I was really amused. After a lifetime of being debilitatingly afraid of bugs, I was making an adventure out of the possibility that I was dealing with the worst bug problem ever. Another girl at work who is also afraid of bugs admitted that he was adorable. And that’s when I realized: Radical Affirmation. I had successfully turned a potentially miserable situation into something that was kind of an adventure.
Of course, it helped that as we examined the situation further, we concluded that he was not a bed bug. My teammates and I commended him for his long, brave journey on the MTA, his will to live, and his avid interest in playing hide-and-seek in his tissue. To that end, he deserved a name, and a status as my pet. We went with Don, for Don Quixote; Juan, because it sounds good at after “Don;” and Gregor, because one of my teammates posted a note on my facebook profile subltly reminding me that it could have been worse: I could have woken up and realized I turned into a cockroach.
Sadly, I took Don Juan/Gregor to my mom’s for further examination, because people thought he might be a tick. I regret to report that he died there. But…let’s be honest. I don’t regret it that much. You know what they say, “Life’s a bitch, and then you suffocate to death in a salad dressing container.”
But I am excited to report that there’s more radical affirmation going on. You see, as I may have mentioned, there’s a recession. But as noted earlier in the week, I decided to write a feature about 5 Things Worth Spending Money On. It turned out that people had a lot to say about this–namely, the things they themselves would spend money on. (Apparently my suggestion that everyone keep buying health insurance wasn’t all that sexy.) So we started a Facebook Group called, “Five Things I Can’t Live Without.” We’re looking for people to join, start talking about the stuff they’d buy, and then, we’re going to publish a People’s Choice: 5 Things I Can’t Live Without.
But why stop at Facebook? (Twitter’s going to kick its butt off the Internet any minute now, anyway.) We decided to implement a great new commenting tool, the Qwidget, on the article itself. As described by the FD blog:
“The Qwidget calls itself “the conversation starter.” Indeed, the Qwidget is worthy of a better description than “comment thread.” Threads are easy to lose. But the conversations that happen with the Qwidget aren’t. What I like most about it is that it encourages me to read thoroughly.” [click for full entry.]
We’ve been putting Qwidgets in the news, but now, for the first time, we’ll be putting a Qwidget into a feature.
So what’s the Radical Affirmation here? The Recession, which kinda-sorta-really sucks, has inspired us to find new ways of getting people to talk. This is a perfect example of way that in removing a shroud, we came out a lot more evolved than we would have been if there were no shroud at all. Between Don Juan/Gregor and the financial meltdown, I learned so much this week!
Plus, I don’t have bed bugs, and the recession isn’t real: it was made up by the media to get people to read content.