Tag Archives: resistance

Show up and breathe. That’s it.

Show up. Breathe. You're all right.

Show up. Breathe. It’s all right.

My mean mind has been trying hard to score points on the soccer field of my sanity, so thank goodness for my goalie: my conscience, my breath, my calm.

My mean mind can be a jerk—it wants me to feel bad because I haven’t blogged lately, because I’ve been resistant to writing in general, because I’m neither prolific nor renowned.

“Seriously?” my insecure ego prods me, “you’re a writer who isn’t writing? What a joke. A fraud. Who do you think you are?”

This stuff hurts to hear.

And just before the rest of me sinks into self-doubting despair—right as that cruel soccer ball of shame comes flying toward my net of self-esteem—my spiritual goalie intervenes.

“Not so fast!” it says, lightly leaping into the path of projected negativity. The radiance of my true self is bright enough to deflect, to defend against harmful illusion.

“You know who you are,” my conscience tells me. “You are safe. You are loved. You are infinitely supported.

“You are okay.”

I’m so grateful for my goalie, but I still get tired of the game. It’s not always easy to have faith, to trust that I’m in transition, that my words will return, that all will be well—that it already is.

Nope, not always easy. But still true.

And so my mantra during these wobbly weeks has been simple: Show up and breathe.

Show up = don’t hide. Breathe = be.

Be visible. Allow myself to be seen. Take necessary action, and nothing more.

If I show up with my breath, I’m doing my best. My goalie will take care of the rest.

Off the Charts Empowered

Each of the business cards I collected represents an authentic connection I made with another empowered human. "Networking" never felt so natural!

Each of the business cards I collected represents an authentic connection I made with another empowered human. “Networking” never felt so natural!

“All I have to do is show up.”

That’s what I told myself in advance of Nathalie Lussier’s Off the Charts Live, a weekend conference I’d paid money to attend yet wanted to skip.

I thought I had no business being there, mainly because, well, I don’t have a business. At least, that’s what it felt like. (Now I understand that not only do I already have a business, I might even have two! )

So, even though I’d committed my time and money, I experienced huge resistance in the days leading up to the event.

“I don’t really feel like going to the business conference this weekend as I don’t feel I belong but whatever,” I journaled earlier in the week.  “I will show up. That’s all I have to do, I really have to keep remembering that. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in worry and overwhelm.”

And so I showed up. I was tired, and I was just barely on time, and I sat far in the back of the theater, up against a wall. Instead of smiling at anyone or attempting to make conversation with the other women in the room, I focused on my phone, typing out my frustrations.

Off the Charts resistance

I was experiencing off the charts resistance.

And then I did something brave.

Nathalie, who, by the way, is a super successful, sincere, excellently kind and helpful human, opened the weekend by inviting participants to introduce themselves. As I listened to woman after woman describe her business and her ambitions, I started to feel smaller and smaller. My worst fears were coming true–I was out of my league, over my head, an imposter, a poser, a wannabe baby.

My head was filling fast with self-hateful lies, but thankfully my stomach, which always tells the truth, was tingling for me to talk. I’ve learned to listen to that tingle, so even though I was frustrated and scared, I raised my hand and stood up with a microphone.

“I’m Christina Bryza, and I don’t have a business, or, I guess, I AM my business, ” I told the audience of intimidating strangers. “I’m a writer, and my first book, Are You My Boyfriend?, is being published in February, and I want to be prepared for that to be big, and so I need to build a brand and website for that, but I also care a lot about helping others heal, and I teach yoga, and I’m not sure how everything goes together and I don’t really know what I’m doing.”

[Note: I’m paraphrasing the above dialogue, as I wasn’t recording myself when I said it.]

I sat down, flustered and defiantly embarrassed. Nathalie nodded and said, “You’re in the right place.”

And, oh my goodness wow, I so totally was.

I learned and experienced SO MUCH at Off the Charts Live. Plenty of it was nuts-and-bolts  practical and on-the-ground applicable: how to develop strategy, construct a business model, build my list, increase site traffic, make sales, and launch a product or service.

Plenty more dealt with emotional intelligence: how to get out of my own way, balance my brain, cultivate empathy, manage my time, form meaningful strategic partnerships, and connect with a dynamically supportive community.

But the truly transformative aspects of the weekend were not things I could take notes on. (Although I did fill up the custom Moleskine I was given.)

Because validation, and clarity, and inspiration, and confidence…those things are intangible—and they are also invaluable.

And while I presume I would have received some of those benefits even if I’d stayed a silent observer, I know that speaking up early on allowed for some amazing interactions. If I hadn’t pushed past my (dis)comfort zone and made myself known, I’m pretty sure I would have spent the first break tapping away at my smartphone.

Instead, a woman came right up to me and identified with what I’d said, and I was instantly invigorated. She’s a writer too, and we spent the rest of the break enthusiastically chatting.

Our connection was the first of many easy, authentic friendships I formed in the course of the weekend, each with exciting implications and possibilities. When I exchanged business cards with these women, it didn’t feel like “networking,” it felt like necessary action to be sure we stayed in touch.

And I’ll make sure we do, because I need their guidance and support, and I want to help them too. As Nathalie said during one of her presentations, “we’re here to educate. We’re here to bring everyone off the charts.”

I’m so grateful to Nathalie Lussier and all the awesome people who participated in her event. I’ve never felt more able to shine my light and show up big, and I owe a lot of my energy to what I’ve derived to be the weekend’s magic formula:

Generous Wisdom + Genuine Connections = Off the Charts Empowerment!

Solstice savasana

For years now I’ve enjoyed doing yoga in Times Square on the night of the summer solstice. It’s become a deeply personal ritual, performed in a very public place.

Bright lights, big ads, chain stores…What could be more relaxing?
(This is near the end; I’m sitting up and stretching.)

This year the solstice was on Wednesday, June 20. I pre-registered for class back in April and the date took top priority; I shuffled several events in my schedule to accommodate it. And then, along came Wednesday, June 20, and I did not feel like doing yoga.

Or more accurately, I did not want to practice asana, and especially not in vigorous vinyasa style. I hadn’t gotten much sleep on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday nights, and I was leaving town on Thursday, and so on Wednesday I really just wanted to rest.

And that’s exactly what I did. I arrived an hour early, because I expected a crowd and wanted to be sure and secure a mat and a space. Rather than push my way toward the central staging area around 45th Street, where I’ve participated in the past, I took the path of least resistance and situated myself near the check-in station at 43rd Street and Broadway, far from the heart of the action.

As soon as my mat was down I settled into a welcome savasana and faded in and out of consciousness until the crackle of speakers brought me back to my surroundings. After a couple of introductory announcements, it was time for class.

The instructor was energetic, the crowd was enthusiastic, and I was still in savasana. Audibly psyched to be coaching thousands of yogis in Times Square (NEW YORK CITY!), the teacher implored us to share her joy, to find meaning for ourselves in what she was offering.

And suddenly I realized that for me, what would be meaningful would be to honor my truth: I absolutely did not want to move. I wasn’t feeling the instructor’s energy, but I didn’t have to make a big deal out of it. I could listen to her words, respectfully appreciate them, and meditate in stillness instead of in motion.

I’ve sometimes wondered what it would be like to stay in savasana for an entire class. It’s one of those things you can technically do anytime, but I’ve never seen it happen. Personally, if I’ve paid for a yoga class, I feel like I’m missing out if I’m not moving. And while I’ve gotten good about taking child’s pose when I need it, there’s something about lying down for a straight hour that just seems lazy or disrespectful. (Not that I’m judging!)

But, all judgment aside, I committed to staying still last Wednesday. It was more challenging than I expected, especially at first. I felt both guilty and rebellious, and had to close my eyes in order to become comfortable. But before long I was content, listening closely and holding the poses in my imagination.

The more I concentrated, the more it felt like I was actively engaging–except my breath was steadier than it would have been had I tried to match the instructor’s rapid pace, and I wasn’t perturbed or confused when the speakers went out for a while. The sudden silence was welcome, and I knew exactly where my body was meant to be.

At one point a spotter (yoga teachers volunteered as assistants for the event) tapped me on the shoulder to make sure I was okay. “I’m good. I’m just chilling,” I told her with a smile, and gratefully sank back into my reverie. Another time a different spotter approached and asked if she could give me an adjustment. I felt like the luckiest yogi in Times Square as she pressed down on my shoulders, then below my collarbone, and then at my temples. “Man,” I thought as she gently touched my third eye, prompting a trippy visual sensation, “I’m getting rewarded for relaxing.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of people around me had been standing and lunging and balancing and flowing, and moments after my masseuse left me melted into the cement, the crowd was told to hop on one foot and shout “I’m free!” That was when the guy next to me jumped with full force onto my fingers.

But even the sudden shock of excruciating pain didn’t bother me too much. It was a bold reminder that despite my capacity for joy, I am never immune to suffering. Yet distress doesn’t stay when I am willing let it go. So I breathed soothing exhales toward my fingertips, and class went on.

Nearly two hours later, I stood up. By that point I was restless; the longest I’d ever stayed in savasana before last Wednesday was for a sixty-minute yoga nidra meditation I do sometimes at home, and that’s usually on my bed and not concrete. So somewhere around ninety minutes I’d had to sit up and start stretching. But I stayed seated until the final om, and when it was over, I felt well and truly restored.

Resting in unrest

Image courtesy of “Annie” Nancy JonesFrancis (annieo76) via Flickr Creative Commons

I don’t always get what I want, but I always, always get what I need.

The first time I heard the Rolling Stones sing something similar, I instantly related, though it’s taken me years to realize I can try more than sometimes, and there is no “just might” about it:

I get what I need.

(And so do you, particularly if you’re reading this, since to do so you’ve got to be breathing.)

For the past few days my yoga has been slippery. I’ve been grasping for peace and it’s been shimmering just beyond reach. I’ve gotten caught up with wanting, nearly forgotten that I am not in need.

When I think I need something I get anxious, and when I am anxious I am uneasy. Usually I’m making things harder than they have to be. The solution is simple, but I don’t always see it.

When I upset the balance of my existence–when I attempt to control my life more than accept it–anxiety shows up and I am in unrest. The trick is, the only way out of unrest is to rest in it. If I stay still with the situation, if I gently steer my thought-tangled mind toward silence for even a minute, I start to see what I was missing before.

Nothing. Nothing is missing, nothing is needed. And if I allow myself to accept that reality–a truth I perceive with my own senses–anxiety has nowhere to nestle.