for Urban Professionals & Other Skeptics in a Rush
January 15, 2013 in Inspiration
A wise friend once told me that mind and body don’t always agree, but body is always right. I intuitively knew that to be true – kind of like a baby won’t eat food that’s gone off, without contemplating why. Babies are genius in that they don’t contemplate. I kept looking for explanations anyway. I didn’t want a baby answer, I wanted the opus on why this was so. I wanted the Professor’s explanation. I wanted proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I looked with yoga. I looked with body-centered therapy. I looked with chakra healing, Chinese medicine and aryuveda. I looked using food as medicine. All of this looking yielded a lot of explanations, and all of them were right.
I also looked on Wall Street. I was there anyway, being the most serious lawyer I could be. I arrived that first day of work bursting with excitement (the serious kind), and looked around at my incoming class of one hundred and thirty eager beavers: bright, motivated, enthusiastic, spirited, and pretty good looking for law nerds. Good looking in that we were all in our twenties, and most of us had just had a good break since school, spent the summer outside, the men looked mostly manly, and the women had curves. We had all just moved to New York City, the one that doesn’t sleep, the one that can do anything for you anytime, that playground for adults. I had arrived! I thought, naively. This is going to be fantastic. In many ways, it was. My mind was having the time of her life! The cases I worked on were out of a movie or textbook, I was learning a ton, and I discovered that I could survive on a minuscule amount of sleep.
My body, however, was barely keeping up. I wasn’t the only one, and less than a year later I took stock of the health of my co-veterans, not to mention our bosses. The men had turned pear shaped. Many women had irregular periods (yes, we talk about this), and those who had been there the longest actually looked kind of like men. Prozac and Wellbutrin – and the depression they “treat” – were normal. Sleeping pills and alcohol were normal. Broken relationships were normal. High blood pressure was normal. Bring stressed out and unhappy was normal. Everyone was kind of grey, literally. There were so many signs from the body that things were out of whack, but no one was listening. The soul fires of the people I spent most of my time with had dimmed, big time. So had mine, and the evidence was all over my life.
It took a while to integrate what I’d been studying, religiously, in the non-lawyer part of my life. What exactly was the disagreement between mind and body, and how could I fix it and keep my day job? Was my gig of lawyer by day and yoga teacher by night fun for me and dinner party conversation for everyone else, or was there something more to it? Was I supposed to bail and move to an ashram?
The way we work – and the way we live while we work – is a kind of epidemic. A totally unnecessary, habitual, gratuitous epidemic that keeps us from doing our best work, and from living happy healthy lives. It’s not natural to not be shining your light. Your body has probably let you know that something isn’t working, and your mission is to pay attention. Soul fire isn’t something you can just turn on if you ignore it for too long, and you can’t really live without it.
What inspires me (and you too, I hope) is that change is much, much easier than you’d think. It’s a breath, a stretch, an intention. Go easy on yourself and check back here – I’d like to see that twenty-something smile back on your face. That’s why I’m here.
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