Yoga Realizations: Abundance & Scarcity

Yoga. I never bothered to try it, because I assumed that a large, inflexible, uncoordinated woman with poor balance would not be able to do yoga.

About a month ago, I finally gave it a shot. All my girlfriends were doing it, and I just wanted to be cool. Peer pressure caused me to experiment with yoga.

I was correct. I can’t do it. And I love it so much, I wish I had tried it years ago.

I didn’t realize that yoga is magic. When you require your body to attempt what it really cannot do for a good solid hour, until you’re sweaty and exhausted, your brain apparently winds up in some kind of crazy super-freedom state that allows you to think beautiful new thoughts.

(Aside: I suppose this must be what certain drugs do for you, too….except if you do a whole bunch of drugs you wind up looking like shit, but if you do a whole bunch of yoga, you wind up looking awesome.)

I can tell you that I must look ridiculous in my yoga practice, which is okay because I can’t see myself. I’m sure I never look like a warrior or a tree or a crow, but at the end of class, I’ll be damned if I don’t think like a yogi.

This is good news, because my thoughts are kind of shaky these days. I’m still off-kilter from my recent breakup, and I spend a lot of time either sad, angry, or in a state of rigid avoidance. But for some reason, when I’m physically exhausted and instructed to clear my mind and focus on my breath, amazing thoughts radiate through my consciousness.

I know I sound dramatic, but here’s what happened in my brain at the end of a recent yoga class.

We’re sitting cross-legged (sukhasana! I’m learning!) and the instructor quietly suggests, “Extend your spine, take a deep breath and thank your body for all the hard work you put in today.”

Thanks, body. You did great!

“On your next exhale, round down over your feet and extend your fingers towards the front of your mat. It’s important to recognize how hard your body works and to appreciate all that it’s capable of. Hold that pose for five breaths.”

Hey, feet. Thanks for the hard work.

My feet are okay. They’re not weird-looking or anything and they never give me any trouble. I love my feet.

You know, I actually love my whole body. Hear that? I love you, Body. I have an abundance of love!

….I have an abundance of love.

….I’m not afraid of being alone because I have an abundance of love.

I really thought those things, all in a row, like popcorn popping in my brain. I was probably a little oxygen-deprived in that moment, because sitting cross-legged and bending forward like that causes the bulk of my belly to be crushed up into my lung-space, but whatever. It was worth it for that brilliant realization: I HAVE AN ABUNDANCE OF LOVE.

The class progressed into the meditative portion, where you’re supposed to lie flat, clear your mind, and concentrate on your breath. So of course, that’s when my brain goes nuts.

This “abundance of love” notion rolled right into a burst of clarity regarding my recently-ended relationship. While our relationship was good in many ways, it was always marred by possessiveness and jealousy. I’ve never had that particular problem before, and I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand why those problems kept surfacing, when I didn’t feel like I was doing anything to trigger them. I didn’t understand why we were constantly fighting over nothing.

And right there in yoga class, it came to me. Abundance versus Scarcity.

I have learned about abundance before, but I have always heard it applied to material things. An abundance mentality says that there is plenty for everyone. We can afford to be generous because there is enough to go around.

Scarcity is the opposite of abundance. People who live in scarcity feel that there is never enough, and so they are constantly fighting for their share.

I never applied the notion of Scarcity and Abundance to human relationships before, but BAM!—yoga clarity!—I suddenly saw how it works.

I come from a big, loving family. I was raised with the certainty that I am loved. I have a great circle of friends. I have kids who love me. I recognize that I am extraordinarily fortunate to feel an abundance of love.

I’ve never been one to feel jealous or suspicious; I’m very trusting. I’ve also never cheated on anyone; I don’t see the point—just love who you’re going to love. I have this crazy theory that almost all hurt feelings between friends are the result of misunderstandings, because I truly believe that people who love me would not intentionally hurt me. That’s what my life experience has taught me.

Not everyone has had that life experience. I suppose if you were raised in an environment that was abusive or unstable, or if you suffered through abandonment or infidelity, you might feel emotional scarcity. You might feel like you need to fight for affection, guard it and keep it to yourself. Once you have someone’s affection, you might feel like you could lose it at any moment, and easily become suspicious or jealous.

Suddenly all those fights, all that jealousy and possessiveness made sense. Why I felt so smothered, and why I felt like I could never do, or be, enough. We’re talking about opposite worldviews here. No wonder we couldn’t get along.

That just took me 900 words to explain, but during yoga, it flashed into my brain on one big exhale, like I breathed all the clarity in and all the confusion out.

Peace in… fear out.

Abundance in…scarcity out.

I’m telling you– you gotta try yoga.

The Mattress Adventures of Meg

Alas, this isn’t a steamy sexcapades memoir.  How I wish it were.  Really, it’s about mattress shopping.

Recently I visited my chiropractor to address my nagging low back pain. He gave me this bit of common sense advice:  if your back hurts in the morning more than it hurts at night, your problem is most likely your mattress.

My back definitely hurts more in the morning, and I was aware that my bed was a torture rack, but it was nice to have it confirmed by a professional.  Now I can justify spending the money on a new mattress without feeling frivolous. We are not going to delve into why I can’t spend money without a flurry of self-judgment. We’re just going to be happy that I get a new mattress.

The first store I went to was a local, custom mattress store and the basic models started at $1,000. I was okay with that; this is my bed we’re talking about, and I’m tired of back pain. So I am open to spending $1,000. (I’m aware that you also can spend $15,000 on a mattress, but those mattresses are not for regular humans.)  However, $1,000 is like a bazillion dollars to me, so I wasn’t going down without a fight—I was ready to shop my head off.  If they’re getting my thousand dollars, I am getting ONE HELL OF A MATTRESS. I tried a few beds in that store, but mostly I was freaking out about the money too much to make any progress.

The second mattress store was less fancy.  As I walked in the front door, I bumped into a mattress that was clearly labeled, “Back Support” and it was $399. I was able to settle down and think for a minute, but then the mattress salesman came over. And he was cute.

This is a problem.  Mattress shopping is already exceedingly awkward. First of all, mattress stores are almost always empty except for you and the salesperson.  So you walk in, explain that you are shopping for a mattress (duh) and then you LIE DOWN and try to act like it’s no big deal to lie down and talk about beds in a big empty room with a total stranger.  Throw a little attraction into the mix and you can crank that awkwardness up a few notches: just act natural, while you talk to the cute stranger about how sometimes you like to lie on your back but sometimes you lie on your side and never mind that beds are also for sex but not mine, we’re not talking about that, I’m just lying here trying to act natural.

(There is a bigger problem here: I don’t know how to pick up men. So even if I’m all alone with a cute guy, and I have his undivided attention in a room full of BEDS, I still don’t know how to close the deal.  Pathetic.)

The good news is that I really liked the $399 bed.  It felt as good as the custom, expensive beds.  However, you can’t return a mattress, so you only have one shot to get it right. Must…keep…shopping…

Store #3 had the biggest selection and a very knowledgeable salesperson. She showed me a very comfortable bed that was $1,100. Empowered by my $399 secret, I asked if she had anything that felt that good but was cheaper. She said, eyebrows raised, “Cheaper than $1,100?” Yes, lady; I am a low-digit girl and I need an awesome mattress that is super cheap. What’s the problem?

She might have been a little snooty, but she gave me this useful advice: if you are shopping for a mattress, you must lie on it for at least 20 minutes, because that’s how long it takes your body to relax and get a feel for it. She showed me a very comfortable mattress and encouraged me to lie on it for as much time as I could spare.

I lay on that mattress for a good 25-30 minutes. I may have even dozed a little, right there in a public mattress store. It felt great. I was pretty much in love.  “How much is this one?” I asked.  “It’s a closeout,” she said. “It’s normally $3,000 but I can sell it to you for $1,300.”

$1,300 is not less than $1,100. Am I the only one who thinks so? Because she failed to come to that conclusion. Also, $1,300 is way more than $399.

I left without buying a mattress. I ate a sandwich. I walked my dogs. Then I concluded that mattress shopping is a crap shoot. Both mattresses felt good in the store, but either one could end up being uncomfortable after a whole night’s sleep. If I was going to gamble, I would rather risk $400 than $1400. I’m not much of a gambler.

Back to store #2, home of the cute mattress salesman. It was twenty minutes to closing.

Cute Salesguy:     Oh, you’re back! I was worried that you found a better deal.

Meg-in-my-head: He remembers me! Of course, I am probably the only customer he’s  had all day.

Meg-Out-Loud:      No, I’m just having trouble making up my mind. I know it’s close to closing, but would you mind if I lie down a little longer? Someone told me I have to try it for at least 20 minutes.

Cute Salesguy:        Not at all! I’m glad you want to lie on it for a long time; that’s the smart thing to do.

Meg-in-my-head:   He is cute AND nice! I wonder if he would be willing to spoon me while I  try out this mattress?

Meg-Out-Loud:      Thank you so much. I hope I’m not keeping you.

Cute Salesguy:       I have plenty to do. Take your time. Get comfortable; I’ll even dim the lights for you.

Meg-in-my-headBow chicka bow-wow…

Meg-Out-Loud:      Okay, but if you turn on Barry White I’m going to be suspicious.

I didn’t hear what he said after that because of the blood rushing to my ears in complete horrified shame that I’d spoken the Barry White comment out loud. He turned down the lights (probably so no more weirdo customers would come in) and turned on some kind of normal music that was not suggestive at all. Of course, I couldn’t relax and feel the mattress properly after that anyway, because I was mentally berating myself for not filtering my dumb jokes.  I just lay there feeling like a dork for 15 minutes.

I bought the mattress. While we did the paperwork, we made small talk and he really was very nice. And then, get this: there was an earthquake right while we were sitting there.

Now I’m all alone, with a cute guy, in a room full of beds, AND THE EARTH MOVES, and I still cannot manage to ask for a phone number or make any romantic-type advance.  Somebody help me.

My new mattress was delivered yesterday and ironically, the delivery guy hit on me! No one ever hits on me, so I was flattered, although the delivery guy was…well…let’s just say he was no mattress salesman.

But my bed feels great.

P.S. for grammar freaks: I had to consult the lay v. lie reference about fifty times to complete this post. How did I do?