Turn Off to Tune In

Frog IMG_9311

Daily Prompt: When was the last time a movie, a book, or a television show left you cold despite all your friends (and/or all the critics) raving about it? What was it that made you go against the critical consensus?

About 10 years ago I began to shift away from mindless television and fictionalized or glamorized violence of any kind. I stopped watching the ‘news’ first. It makes me sound prudish and elitist, I know, but I’m okay with that.

You’re probably expecting me to tell you now that I’m one of those people who doesn’t own a TV. I still do. And I still watch it, but not often.

At some point I woke up. At some point I realized that everything I was allowing in through my senses affected not only my attitude but my physical being. Maybe it was an amazing book I read, a seminar, a comment overheard. I can’t say when it happened or even why, except that I woke up. And once I knew what I was doing to myself, I made different choices.

When I let go of the need for water cooler banter and chose to turn my attention to talking about expansive ideas and working on how I could become a better person in this world, a better steward of the earth and at the very least do no harm, everything shifted.

I went outside.

I looked up.

I found enchantment in the clouds – we have great clouds in Florida. The praying mantis eating a dragonfly or a spider catching a fly provided drama and a little violence. Birds are actually quite comical. And strangers are always in the midst of some love story. Overhearing snippets of conversation became  fodder for my imagination; creating lives and turmoil and surprises for these characters I was free to develop.

As I wandered with my camera, magic appeared in front of me. Every time. Hawks would pose patiently on low branches so I could snap their portrait before they flew off to capture their morning meal. Butterflies and bees slowed down as they worked flowers, it seemed just for me. Deer made sustained eye contact before returning to their foraging or bounding into the forest.

I’m sure this was always the case. The only thing that has changed is the observer. Me.

While I appreciate the opinions of others and on occasion I will take the advice of a friend and watch a show, read a book or go to the movies, I am more likely found squatting next to a tree to get a closer look at a baby frog.

This is the direction in which my preferences run. That’s just me. But then, it’s all a matter of taste.

[Photo: Taken at the Merrit Island Refuge in Merrit Island, Florida. He’s about the size of my thumb nail. Maybe. Photo credit: Me, Allison L Andersen]

Lovable

Deer IMG_6942

About a week ago I was up at my ashram for a yoga teacher reunion. It was little more than 24 hours, arriving at noon on Tuesday and leaving around the same time Wednesday, in which we reconnected with each other, did some yoga and made a couple new friends.

The treat in going to the ashram is being in the presence of Yogi Amrit Desai. Wednesday morning, after yoga, we had that opportunity. During trainings, and even between trainings, Gurudev – our term of endearment for him – leads philosophical, spiritual talks called darshan. He shares his thoughts about many things in the yoga world and reminds us of a few universal truths, but most of his talks circle back to consciousness. This morning was no different. This is the reason I am here.

Today he is talking about how we feel we need to do things, be something and act in certain ways to be lovable. He was giving examples and making us nod in agreement and laugh at ourselves. I would drift in and out of engagement as usual, doodling in the margins of my journal, writing the big ideas down, then I heard it.

When we hear the same word over and over again, especially in our own language, in our own accent, it sometimes loses power, or at the very least, impact. He was saying lovable repeatedly. Only in his Indian accent he was pronouncing it love-able.

This completely reframed things for me. Lovable – Love-uh-bull – sounds to me like I have to add things to me to make myself presentable to another to be loved. I have to primp and preen, be smart, make money, have nice things, not be myself. I have to behave. To be loved.

Love-able makes me feel as if I have to strip away pretense, wash my face, take off my nail polish and open my raw authentic self up in order to love another.

One sounds desperate and seeking, the other scary and exciting.

Maybe I’m the only one who sees it this way, but I don’t think so. It tracks with what we’ve been told: In order to love another you must first love yourself. In order to love yourself, you have to accept yourself AS YOU ARE and that is knowing who you are underneath it all.

Acceptance of self = Self love = Lovable. Able to love.

[Photo: Young orphaned buck that was cared for across the street from the ashram. He now comes over to visit and receive love.]