Self-Righteousness and Victimization
A Holiday Season Blog on Finding the Missing Pieces
by Lauren Fields, owner of Yoga to You PDX
Yoga is outwardly a journey into the body. When we begin, we feel where we have been neglecting ourselves. We feel relief when our joints pop open, when smooth heat and blood flow rushes into our bodies. Our minds are focused on our postures and on our alignment. In other words, our minds are focused. We are with others who are sharing a similar experience, it is theirs while it is ours. Simultaneously, we are working toward healing. It’s an incredible space to share with other humans.
May all beings be happy and free. How do we do this? What is our obstacle? Why in adulthood does the search for peace, not even necessarily happiness, feel so damn challenging at times? I have discovered in myself a habit of falling back into two distinct patterns that stunt growth and block reality. For me, it is self-righteousness followed by or preceded by victimization. Both head spaces are dangerous, dark, and sticky. It’s similar to the land of the "upside down" in the Netflix show Stranger Things. Did you notice that everything seems sticky in that show? Negative thoughts just stick. When I was a child, there was this really creepy, cool movie called Hugga Bunch. The movie starts off with this little girl getting really mad at her grandmother, running off, and shutting herself in her room. She hears a squishy sound in her mirror. She goes to touch the mirror and it’s soft like water. Upon touching, she passes through the mirror into the land of the Hugga Bunch where these animal-like creatures basically hug all the time. I can’t remember exactly what happens after her entry into this strange land. I believe she finds magic cherries that will save her sick grandmother, about who she’s now feeling regretful because the land of the Hugga Bunch has shown her how her grandmother feels on the inside. Like many movie for kids, love and caring become the central theme. Love is peace and peace is love. It’s easy to say, but hard to do all the time.
Sometimes I feel as if I live in two worlds. In the world of yoga, things are clear. I’m at peace; acceptance and understanding are so easy to grasp. Usually after a long meditation, perspective can flood in and take over. This is the land of the Hugga Bunch, through the mirror and into the world of love and clarity. In my other world (let’s call it the adult "upside down"), it is a land of social media, marriage, kids, family, money struggles, alcohol, and materialism.
Before I practiced yoga today, I had made a different plan for myself. I woke up sore and made the excuse that I didn’t need to practice today, following that reasoning with a big breakfast of biscuits. I felt as if I had earned this giant feast because I had taught four classes and walked the dogs for 30 minutes on the previous day. Therefore, I didn’t need to practice. I provided myself reasons for why I didn’t have to practice about 5 separate times today. Self-righteousness. The self in the "upside down" world self-righteously made excuses for Lauren (who desperately needed to jump in to the Hugga Bunch mirror. I was making fake excuses for myself. The truth was that I just didn’t want to put the energy into a practice. But why? I’m a yoga teacher after all; I do this for my livelihood. Why am I avoiding what I love most…and what was I avoiding?
Self- Righteousness is a fantastic costume, cloaking what is really bothering me. So, I went into my studio and rolled out my mat. I started with just lifting and lowering my heels. I did my spinal movements and practiced my morning Yoga Synergy sequence, mostly with my eyes closed. Avoidance is exhausting, so I came to my mat already drained. The part of me that had made excuses all morning, had tired out the part of me that really needed to practice. Slowly things started to pop and crack and blood flow took over. The happy chemicals followed and my mental clouds began to part. I started to feel what I was avoiding. Note: I can masterfully succeed in a “yoga” class that will leave me dripping in sweat and never confront what brought me to the practice in the first place. It will be exercise, but it will not be union. Union is uncomfortable; union is my road to growth. Even a 30-minute practice is mentally and emotionally painful. It was in seated meditation where I realized why I was avoiding my practice.
I didn’t want to confront what had been in front of my face all morning. What I often perceive as a rough day is usually avoidance. Basically, I’m trying not to think about something and it keeps showing up over and over again...making me miserable. It’s there on social media, walking around with me in my neighborhood, talking to me on the phone, across the table from me at breakfast. I can feel my "upside down" brain tugging at me, pulling me into that dark space of victimization. The feeling of all that is missing, all that is not fair. If I stay in this place, the self-righteousness victim version of myself that I so dislike will take over. This conquering will lead to “earning” a drink or getting to skip out on my yoga practice. Just different actions and excuses for self-inflicted suffering. It leads to becoming distant with people I Iove. I will tell myself that I am misunderstood when really the only person who isn’t understanding or seeing clearly, is myself. I will isolate myself, and tell myself that I’m going through this world alone.
Here is my truth, the challenging truth, but the truth that will set me free over and over again. I know it doesn’t happen once. I have to repeat this truth to myself on a weekly, daily, and hourly basis, sometimes every minute or every few seconds, before I slip into the sticky "upside down." It sounds dramatic, but life is just a series of moments. Each one leads to the next. The sooner I can catch myself, the sooner I can find peace for that day. It is my choice to stay in that place of victimization; it is my choice to go to self-righteousness.
“May all beings find peace.” I have to find it. Ever been on an Easter egg hunt where the eggs are just laying on top of the grass? If you’ve had this experience, it was a shitty hunt. I can’t underestimate my work during the painful hunting of finding myself. Nobody is going to heal me, except me. Nobody is going to hunt, find, and give me peace. It is important to remember I can appreciate someone’s personal experience as miraculous without taking it on as a missing piece in myself. It is a choice and it is one step to freedom.
I will leave y’all with words my teacher Simon Borg-Olivier said to me during my recent yoga teacher training in Bali. We were discussing the experience of watching our minds and how there’s all this talk in the yoga/mindfulness world about watching our thoughts come in and out. During this moment, he said, “who’s doing the watching?”
To this I now reply...
The me doing the watching is the me who is on my side, the side that wants peace.
Wishing you love and peace,
Lauren Fields, Owner