On my birthday this year I took off all of my clothes and handed out birthday cake and birthday hats in my birthday suit. I was at burning man, one of the rare places in the world where being naked isn’t seen as purely sexual and although it took a personal pep talk to disrobe (and I put my dress back on as soon as the cake was finished), there was a liberation in celebrating myself in this way. Like so many in our current culture, I consistently add to my life. To make it more full, to cover up the things that feel uncomfortable. Whether it’s work, food, friends, or alcohol I’m prone to addition rather than subtraction. I need to get ahead, I’ll add some more classes to my schedule. I need to calm down after a long day, I’ll drink that. I need to feel better about myself, I’ll find another lover. I desire to zone out or not deal, I’ll eat a heavy meal. Everything has been about how I can fill my life and without even knowing my theme for this year on the anniversary of my birth, now is the time for me to peel off and take away.

Recognizing that winters are particularly tough with emotion, I figured that if I’m going to be suffering again this year, I may as well be doing the real work that comes with it by really dealing with this addiction of addition.

I’ve decided to minimize.

  • Work being a big one! I hold my jobs very dear and also recognize the irony of teaching others to take care of themselves above all else. As soon as I declared to the holidays off, I noticed the ego stressing about how I would afford it and worrying I would disappoint people. I’ve worked since I was 16 years old, am extremely loyal to my positions, and in industries where if you don’t show up, you don’t earn a check. I teach classes to pay my expenses and often over schedule to avoid the effort it takes to plan for long-term security.
  • Driving as much as I do has started to hurt my body. The repetitive action of foot to gas and brake and back again has created a chain of imbalance along my entire right side. Something I am grateful to notice through my personal practice and one of a few signals that my body may be getting older. In fact, I measured half an inch shorter in my physical before I left! I refuse to let this body develop patterns of aging and unconscious use.
  • Consumption seems easy when it comes to the uncomfortable amount of purchasing that comes along with this time of year, but when faced with this concept on all angles – it’s the hardest one for me.  Shopping has never been my thing, eating good food and drinking good beer has. In the most healthy way, I will be eliminating anything known to cause inflammation, disease, or the cyclical grip of dependance. I’m already healthier than most with my choices but find it all the more challenging to say no to temptation when I’m more emotional or social… which brings me to…
  • Socialization. If I am blessed with anything in this life it’s an abundant amount of connection to others. I have the most amazing network of friends, colleagues, sisters and brothers. I hold people dear in my heart, would do anything for those I care about, and get so much of that in return from you. Once a connection has been made, it’s rarely severed on my end. I hold onto the love I feel forever and sometimes to my own detriment. I’ve been known to overcommit to gatherings, functions, events, and meetings because I wish I had endless amounts of time with all of you. I enjoy interaction with people, but it also tends to add to the consumption, the driving and in addition to work, decreases the time I want to focus on myself… for now.

I’ve landed in Costa Rica to take on this commitment of less. With no schedule, a small amount of funds, very little luggage, I’m working on reduction. I’ll be cleansing my body, sitting with myself in meditation/pranayama/mantra/asana and Mother nature everyday. If you’re interested in hearing my experience, I’m happy to share it!

Pura Vida my friends!