It works, who cares why?

Claiming that something does not work simply because you do not understand why it works is a perspective that is actually antagonistic to science. The mystery inherent in discovery should not be a means to silence so-called tin foil hat hippies, but the root of a hypothesis.

I’m not going to speak with any kind of authority about how or why this absurd meditation I’ve started works. But did you catch that? It works, so who the fuck cares why.

Our recorded experiences, culturally inherited wisdom and clinical trials have some significance whether or not academia has yet to confirm or deny their truth value, and actually, many ancient healing practices are currently being validated by modern science. While the critical W.E.I.R.D.os of the west were waiting for a green light from a labcoat (earning her paycheck from Pfizer) and dying of cancer or living long enough to enjoy dementia, the crazy snake oilers of the east were acting on a different kind of knowledge and living longer, more robust lives.

I want to be clear: I’m NOT advocating a divorce from advanced medicine, nor am I suggesting that every crunchy fad carries weight. I love science, I’m all for progress, and I’m a questioner by nature, but why can’t we all just get along? Why can’t there be value in the unknown? I’m not telling you not to vaccinate your kids or to stop taking whatever medication you’re on, I’m just saying, if chanting or tapping or diffusing makes someone’s life more manageable, what’s the merit in being a sour skeptic if it isn’t to be a miserable shit hell-bent on convincing the rest of us to stay miserable too?

Would you try to talk a believer out of trusting in his God if that faith is part of what makes him a good person? If a placebo were saving your friend’s life, would you try to intellectualize a reversal of those benefits? Everyone has their gods. Even an atheist has reverence for “truth.” And what is that anyway?

I don’t know the truth of much of anything, but I do know that:

This meditation I’m about to share works.

Everyone at my gym 100% thinks I’m crazy.

I give 0 shits about #2.

Here’s how to do it.

First, you have to know what you actually want. If you don’t know what drives you, check out my previous post about finding your “why.” Then you have to pretend you already have those things and flood your body and mind with gratitude and other emotions you would experience under those conditions. You have to really embody those feelings; If you’re not grinning like a freshly pubescent boy seeing boobies for the first time, you’re not doing it right.

To strengthen the neural net for the new emotions you’re introducing, and to allow endorphins to assist you in manufacturing those good feels in the first place, do this while exercising.

So when I do this, I’m at my local gym, climbing the stairmaster, gazing out with innocent wonder and smiling like I’m trying to break my face, listening to some uplifting instrumental music and running a constant monologue in my head for about 20 minutes that goes something like this “I’m so grateful that I paid off all my debt and my husband’s debt and I’m so happy that I did that without selling my soul or my body, I’m so elated that I’m full enough to give to others, I’m so grateful that I’m reaching people and they’re enjoying what I have to say, I’m so happy that I have these big beautiful thighs and fluffy butt – fuck you floppy baby!” You’d have to have read this other post to understand that last bit…

I also do traditional vapasana meditation, but what I love about this practice is that there’s zero ambiguity about whether or not I’m doing it right or whether or not it’s working. When I leave that gym, I feel high with happiness. When you practice happiness, you get good at happiness.

There are actually studies that explain why I’m having such success with this, but I’m going to hold out on that. For now, I dare you to make an ass of yourself at your local gym without really understanding why.

Toodles,

H-riot

You’re Not Original

It seems to me that the biggest obstacle to doing something is the fear that someone else has already done it better. If that limiting self evaluation is dampening your fire, let me assure you: of course they have.

But that shouldn’t stop you. Don’t worry that it’s already been said; the truest things usually have: but it hasn’t been said by you. Don’t worry that it’s already been made, produced or otherwise expressed: if there’s a demand for that service, your unique brand will speak to a fraction of the audience, and a fraction is all you need. And if it turns out there isn’t a demand, doing the thing will inspire the next thing. There needs to be a thing. Otherwise we’re just catatonic keys on culture’s accordion.

When I got into mindfulness, I didn’t read Ramdas and call it a day. When I explored nutrition’s role in mindset, I didn’t listen to The Model Health Show and presume Shawn Stevenson was the only smart guy ever to think about nutrigenomics. When I realized how hard I could nerd out about biomechanics, I didn’t settle on Katy Bowman as the only teacher to vary loads in movement. You likely have no idea who any of these people are, but the point is that people like to obsess over their interests and seek multiple perspectives.

If you’re thinking that you don’t have a fresh spin on what’s already out there, you’re being obtuse. It’s a fucking miracle that you’re even breathing; consider the odds of the exact sperm inseminating the exact egg at the exact moment you were created. There’s no one else like you on the planet. There never has been before and there never will be again. We may seem like bovine facsimiles of one another, and we are at times (that’s how marketing works), but there is always an ineffable distinguishing quality. Once you’ve honed in on your signature note, all you have to do is consistently give off that vibration and you’ll attract a symphony.

At least that’s what I’m hoping for.

Why do creative people think they need to be geniuses to put something forward? We would never demand an Olympian for our personal trainer or a Mensa member for our accountant, so why are artists so terrified of mundanity? Most people are mediocre, that’s literally the definition. There are billions of us on this expanding blue dot and the majority of us have to work despite being totally unexceptional.

You’re a beautiful, magical snowflake and also an average, ass-scratching meat puddle. It’s confusing, I know.

Affectionately,

Your pedestrian earthly cohabitant,

Harriet

How do you justify your craft? Or are you evolved enough not to have to validate yourself to yourself every second of the day? #learning

*The mosaic, Eudaimonia, is a Greek word often translated as “happiness through flourishing” and refers to beauty well-lived.

Love What You Love

I wish I loved anything as much as my husband loves basketball. Or maybe it’s that I want to remember how much I love the things I love. Justin would never forget the current that surges through his limbs or his windpipe’s ejaculatory exclamations when Rudy Gobert denies access to the paint. He loves the Utah Jazz so much that he’ll wake up at four a.m. to watch an NBA game before work. He loves playing so much that he’ll spend his only day off wrecking his body at the Y. I’ll never recreate the look of innocent wonder drawn by his first glimpse of swishing uniforms. His wardrobe is so full of purple and green he’s starting to look like a certain purple dinosaur’s unexceptional brother.

Some [lucky] people get the most returns from a consumable passion, like fandom or exercise. Others get there by torturing themselves with unapproachable yet self-inflating practices like writing and making art. It’s always been the case for me that anything that seemed worth doing also seemed impossible. The word “art” itself feels inherently pompous. Enter: asshole thought diffuser: “Who would ever read this crap?” “There’s certainly a dead white guy who has said this better,” and “raccoon bat?!?” (It’s a call-back, don’t worry about it).

What most people forget is that every brilliant mind cranked out a blooper reel of brain farts before stumbling across something worth sharing. That’s why artists have sketchbooks, keyboards have backspacers and improv comedy is mostly bad.

The proliferation of social media has made it easier than ever to share content with a wide audience. Most of that content may consist of selfies and food porn, but hey, people like what they like and it’s been established that we like pets that act like humans and humans that fall down. So be it. For a long time I was the luddite barking about the inane dopamine loop of mittened-kittens and babies eating lemons, but now I realize that there’s so much noise, I LITERALLY CANNOT EMBARRASS MYSELF. If I can sit with a thought long enough to write about it, then maybe there’s an audience for it. And if there isn’t, it will just get lost in the sea of Kardashians, iphone upgrades, and the never ending bigot parade that is the leader of the free [for the top 1%] world.

Maybe I do love creating as much as Justin loves basketball. There’s something about turning nothing into something that really lights me up, when I do it. So here I am, doing it, and not taking myself too seriously while I’m at it. If you want a glimpse at what other brain farts I’m manifesting into objects these days, follow me @harrietgracekey on Instagram.

You can enjoy your passions, too. Maybe your prophylactic charm bracelet isn’t your best idea, but think about how stupid the first pitch for Twitter must have sounded: “Imagine if you could text, like, half a thought…but…to everyone.” So, I say run with it.

If you’re feeling inspired, share this baby and tell us what you love that you could use more of!

Smooches,

Embodied Will

Floppy Baby

I was recently diagnosed with floppy baby syndrome. I wish I could claim authorship of that flattering moniker, but it’s a real thing. Most people are, you know, babies when they get the news, but the universe didn’t present this information to me until the ripe age of 28. I imagine wind sprites whispering, “should we tell her yet?” “Nah, let’s wait until she’s lost all hope anyway.” Also, I stepped in dog shit this morning.

The clinical term for what I have is hypotonia, which means that my muscles are lazy AF. Turns out your tissues can have depression, too. In a normal (as in not floppy) person, a muscle’s natural response to an end range stretch is contraction. Not me, my body just melts into the contortion like you’ve drawn me a hot bubble bath. This is good for flexibility, not so good for stability. So, without this information, I spent my whole life exploiting my fluid alien body instead of strengthening it, which is what I desperately needed. And now the cartilage under my knees is wearing away and flexing my knees beyond 90 feels like evil microbes are chiseling away at my bones like sadistic sculptors. Did I mention that I’m a yoga teacher? And not an octogenarian?

When I got this news, I had just returned from a seasonal bartending gig that I only took so I could afford to dive into teaching yoga full time. Best laid plans, eh? Instead of being a mouse, I decided to be a woman. Well, not at first. At first I mistook my mouth as a nacho vacuum and cried like I was trying to fill a glass of water (you know, to wash the nachos down). Can you blame me? I had just spent thousands of dollars on training for a practice that I not only couldn’t do physically, but that is inherently bad for my body type. Not to mention the fact that I had wrapped up my whole identity in yoga.

So, after I cleaned up the take out boxes and adjusted to my new granny-like range of pain-free motion, I outlined a new plan. First I did some reframing. I thanked my body for highlighting imbalances in a glittering, honking neon marker. At least now I knew the exact type of movement I needed – and when the threat of crying in the grocery store as you try to grab something on the bottom shelf is looming, you get your ass to the gym. And since the only way to reduce pain when your knee caps turn into sandpaper is to beef up your thighs, I was handed a lifelong impetus to get to the gym, which is good for my mind. Winning.

The next shift I needed was in regard to my identity and purpose. Woof.

I bought a slew of glass and other art tools and supplies and began making things again. I’ve been an artist my whole life and have NEVER been confident enough to say that. It’s time to embrace the things I love.

I acknowledged the immense support I’ve gotten from using essential oils, and after witnessing my mom’s radical health transformation after I introduced her to a blend called panaway, I decided it was time to share what I’d learned with a wider audience. That’s when I started my other site, Embodied Oiler, where you can find a free introductory oil course.

Finally, I thought about how I’d turned the consumption of self help into an artform. I’d read book after book about nutrition, movement and mindset and I’d actually applied what I’d learned. I’d stopped taking antidepressants and healed myself naturally. I realized quite suddenly that I had value to add to the world. That’s pretty much how I birthed this blog baby.

And you know what? The warm oozy squish i felt when I stepped in that shit was perversely satisfying.

XO-H

What can you reframe?

*The photo is of a glass mosaic I made with the same word that is tattooed on the back of my neck. “Timshel” is from the book East of Eden by John Steinbeck and roughly translates to “thou mayest.”

Consistency

Maybe talent isn’t everything; maybe sometimes it’s more about consistency. I wonder how many geniuses who could affect positive change on a large scale are holed up playing video games in their parents basement because they are continually struck by some new pang of curiosity.

Affection for myriad passions was what held my father back and it’s why my brothers and I grew up in a home of half built shelves, dismantled computers and a hoard of musical instruments and unrealized art projects. It’s why the home itself was ripped up and reassembled half way.

This endless pursuit of novelty may have been my father’s fatal flaw, but it is also part of what made him one of the most interesting people I’ve known. As I grow older I see more of Frank in me, and I’m not always sure how to proceed. On the one hand, I like the idea of being a Jill of all trades – it could come in handy for impending water wars, the age of automation and whatever else we have to look forward to in a post Trump era. It will certainly give me things to write about.

On the other hand, I want to move forward, I want to finish something, I want to carve out a space for myself and say, “I built that.”

I have no reason to believe anyone is reading this, save my brother, who has always been really good at supporting my passions despite their unlikely ability to generate income (thanks James!) but I keep writing. I certainly get overwhelmed by fears that I’m just participating in a futile egoic masturbation. All. The. Time. But I’m starting to think that everyone does, and that the voices that eventually break through are simply the ones that never stopped talking.

So, I guess where I’ve landed is that I’m going to keep building many shelves, but I’m also going to fill one of them someday.

XO-H

What are you afraid of? Keep going. You’re enough.

Don’t Wait Too Long

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Don’t wait for your whole life to turn to shit to make positive change. It was real easy to quit smoking after my second root canal, but I’d rather have my teeth.

Acknowledging positive shifts born of suffering is one of my favorite topics (if you missed my thank you/break up letter to depression, read it here). When things get really dark, you have no choice but to look for light; it’s the only way to survive. For that reason, I’m proud to say that I used to stare into space for 45 minutes at a time because the idea of committing to any possible action I could think of was so depressing to me that I literally could not move. I’m proud to say that there was a time when chubby hubby and a bottle of cab was my idea of dinner. I’m proud to say that I was so unresponsive to life that not even the dopamine ding of a social media alert could rouse me. These are the wrinkles of my history. These are the wounds I have turned into treasured scars. I adore each jagged edge and recessed contour because they mapped the way to where I am today.

When you’re actually in the pits, you want to bludgeon anyone who claims to be grateful for their suffering, so I’m sorry if that’s you. But it’s true, and it’s unfortunate that so many people wait to flirt with the brink of sanity before making a break for the other side. What’s beautiful about that bent though, is that we tend to overcorrect. I went from a weepy nacho receptacle to the master of my mind, and therefore my reality. (Well, master might be a touch strong, but I’m getting r e a l l y good at reframing).

I feel the most for people who perpetually ride the median groove. I’ve watched loved ones accept profound apathy in the absence of imminent threat. That’s the ugly side of our tendency to transform only when tested by acute tribulation.

So my message is twofold: If you are currently at rock bottom, you’re not alone and I implore you to seek help, both from a therapist as well as an integrative health practitioner (I am NOT qualified to fill either role.) Whatever you’re experiencing, I promise you, that’s not all there is.

The second message is for the zombies who have settled into a comfortable autopilot:

  • If going to work for someone else costs you soul points every day, that job is costing you more than your employer is paying you
  • If you don’t wake up excited about at least one thing you know that day will bring, you’re either not filling your days properly, or you’re not expressing gratitude.
  • It is up to you to manufacture meaning in life, and meaning seldom sprouts from binge watching sitcoms.
  • You have to do something different
  • Now
  • Don’t wait

That’s all I got today, lovelies. Thanks for reading to the end of one of my more serious posts.

Just love,
Embodied Will

Wildlife Observed

If you’ve subscribed to a monogamous relationship paradigm and have selected a mate with whom you cohabitate, you know that for every heartwarming affirmation of affection and compatibility, your partner will also throw at you some idiosyncratic choice or habit that has you scratching your head as if observing a blue footed booby fumbling over dry land.

And that’s exactly what I recommend you do: imagine you are sighting a rare species in its wild habitat.

  • Does your partner prepare sacrificial mounds of toenail clippings?
  • Have their opposable thumbs not evolved to change a toilet paper roll?
  • Are they constantly asking you to hold things that could just as easily be squished under an armpit or set on the ground?
  • Have they confused stentorian snores for a favored secondary sex trait?

We could nag our partners in vain to alter these dumbfounding rituals, or we could curiously observe our mates’ peculiar displays, as if enjoying a bird of paradise courtship dance. That’s just pure entertainment.

So far this all sounds fairly condescending, and yes, at times the role of curious observer will melt your frustration into amusement, but at other times, it may increase awareness that your picture of the world is not accurate; that the lens through which you interpret the melding of limited human senses is of an entirely different hue than your partner’s (or friend’s, or mother’s, or brother’s, etc.)

Instead of allowing your petty preferences to obfuscate the beauty of the life you share, you can choose to appreciate individuality in all its glittery glory. The fact that we can never truly know another (and another can never truly know us) can either be lonely, or it can be fascinating.

You don’t know everything. Enjoy your partner. I’d bet they’re pretty great if they snatched you up.

XO-H