If you know me at all in my life beyond the internet, you probably know I'm a bit of a judger. In fact, had I not been in fifth grade when Judge Judy was cast, I'm certain I would have been selected for the role of Most Critical and Outspoken Female Waif in the under 5'4" category. It isn't that I was tall at ten, it's all the legal aspects of actually being a judge. Details, details.
Instead, I've always cast a longish finger in my own direction, usually while peering into a brightly lit magnifying mirror. Case in point: every time I've ever been evaluated for work performance, I've always started by cutting of my evaluator with, "I know exactly what you're going to say..." and then listing my seventeen most prominent faults, like excessive use of toilet paper, or alphabetizing artificial sweetener packets.
Self criticism is nearly impossible to stop. If there were a secret camera into my kitchen, you would see me tell my husband, "I'm leaving these dishes for you to unload..." while I unload them from the dishwasher, dry them, put them away, and refill the dishwasher. When he returns to the kitchen five minutes later and asks me what I meant by "leaving the dishes for me" or God forbid starts unloading the dirty dishes because I just told him that I was leaving the dishes for him to unload, we end up in a cycle of blaming, finger pointing, and usually tears (and I'm just talking about me, myself, and I, because my husband will happily wander away either feeling lucky or perhaps just slightly hard of hearing).
If I had previously thought that it was impossible to amplify my critical tendencies to new heights, I learned quickly that I was wrong once I started to barely consider having a baby. All it took was the sage advice of Dr. Google, or a wonky breast exam, or an ill-timed trip to crank up the self-destruct-o-meter to new and unparalleled heights. Internet research proves that I should be avoiding salt, sugar, dairy, wheat, soy, caffeine, hormone-laden meat and eggs, alcohol, fun, and late night movie marathons to improve my chances of conception. Faithfully avoiding anything remotely close to fun and drinking my weight in kale juice and pea protein powder while getting enough exercise, sunshine, meditation has yielded me nothing but greater frustration.
But it hasn't stopped the inner critic.
Nope. One funky breast exam and I immediately turned on my body.
"It's YOU! You're SABOTAGING ME!" I exclaimed at my right breast, "You're the reason none of this is working out correctly! You're rotten and you're trying to TAKE ME DOWN WITH YOU!"
This, as you may have guessed, is not very yogic.
Nowhere in the Yoga Sutras does it say, "Whip and beat your body into submission. Stop caring for yourself. Consult Google at every strange turn for possible solutions/diagnoses/recommendations." In the Yoga Sutras, it clearly suggests that the yogi must experience her own nature... the difference between herself and false identities.
It is easy to say you should watch for these subtle changes, but the reality is that the subtle changes aren't apparent unless we are really, totally present. This is what Patanjali said. Step one: right now, you should be breathing. Step two, did you turn off the TV? Step three, are you sitting with yourself or some false sense of who you are?
I'm paraphrasing, of course.
I've been stuck on step three for a long time now, I'm afraid. Listening to and believing a life's worth of lies about my body: wrong shape, wrong functionality, too old, too tired, etc. Those lies are not me. And I finally heard someone speak the truth. It finally chiseled through the mind trap.
"Your body is not a lemon." ~Ina May Gaskin
1.3 tada drastuh svarupe vasthanam