When I first told a close friend that not only was I off to the good ol U S of A, I was going to be living in the sunshine capital – California. He remarked that within six months of being in Los Angeles I would have had my teeth bleached white, have an all over tan and be telling everyone how ‘awesome’ they were. I told him to piss off (obviously) and that I would stay true to my Mancunian roots.No way was I going to turn into a fake. When I finally arrived in LA, whenever I spoke to the locals they couldn’t understand a word I was saying – I got asked plenty of times if I was from Australia or New York. Outraged at even that suggestion I would carry on with myself that I was in fact Mancunian first and English second. The person would smile in that slightly bemused ‘sorry I asked in the first place’ kinda way. This happened a few times before the wife asked me was I really that upset at someone suggesting I was Australian or even American. And you know what I actually wasn’t upset at all – my offence was pretty much imaginary – like an old default setting that needed a conscious update. So I plugged in got conscious and got updated – and I don’t kick off anymore if someone asks me if I’m American or Australian or from the moon!
The above story highlighted to me how easily it is to get caught up in a particular story and get attached to places and attitudes without really thinking it through.
It’s the same with Yoga – there’s so many different brands of yoga these days – different people and personalities are drawn to different yoga disciplines. So y’all (sorry) know I’m an Ashtanga teacher and according to a mate of mine Ashtanga Yoga is a practice for obsessive westerners – cheers Dan. So I’m an obsessive westerner , sue me already ( I’ve got to stop that) ( I’ll be bleaching my teeth next) ( I must ask Dan what personality types are drawn to hot yoga!) And I more than most can get caught up in my ‘brand of yoga is the best’ rhetoric – it’s just so dull and meaningless and most unyoga like. And more importantly it’s just an idea – another part of the ‘story’ we get attached too – I’m Mancunian , Manchester is the best and I teach Ashtanga yoga , Ashtanga is the best too blah blah blah – how bloody ridiculous does that sound ? It feels twice as ridiculous writing it down ( try it for yourself – go write down your attachments and ask yourself just how attached are you to your story -does it do you good or harm to be attached to it).
So wanting to immerse myself in American culture without having to bleach my teeth, I’m reading Henry Miller’s ‘Big Sur and the oranges of Hieronymus Bosch ( don’t worry I’ve got a couple of Mad comics to balance out the literature) and a line in the book hit me right between the eyes – he says
One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things
Errr hello talk about perfect timing – read that line a few times and let it sink in. That is such a heavy heavy line and suggestion that I think we could all learn from – in our yoga practice too. Maybe you can’t nail a posture or maybe an injury is preventing you from doing your usual practice – this ‘destination’ where you’re at is a chance to do things differently, to see things differently. To not get caught up in ‘it shouldn’t be like this’.
So yes I’m a Manc living in Los Angeles but today I’m also just a person too -when I can step outside of my attachments. I’m also a yogi that practices no name yoga and that my fellow people and yogis is a very liberating brand free AWESOME feeling.