Posts Tagged ‘balance’

It’s funny.  I remember drafting some first posts on this blog where alignment was an organizing force for my writing.  To stay focused, I used anatomy drawings I sketched during my yoga teacher training years ago.  I had actually never been able to draw anything in a literal way before that training.  Anything I created artistically tended towards the abstract.  And for those who know me well, this is not surprising.  Yet, the concentration I was able to develop through my yoga teaching course allowed me to explore what it meant to have my body, including my brain, aligned.  Not just my thinking mind.  Not just the physical parts of myself.  But everything.  And amazingly, this allowed me to grow patience.  It allowed me, as I said, to focus.  It allowed me to draw figures realistically, and to express myself in a way that felt balanced (not overly expressionistic, but not frustrated in a sea of technicality).

Skeletal IISo I used those drawings I produced in such a balanced state as inspiration in law school.  I remembered what it felt like during yoga teacher training in order to connect with a state of mind/state of being that allowed for both the technical skills to come through and the emotion, the self that needs spaces of freedom in order to create.  I had to find that within myself because it’s not how I was taught to function in school, but I have to say it allowed me to take ownership of my studies in a way that both felt authentic for me and that resulted in grades I could live with (striving for As in everything regardless of how the process of preparing for those As feel has never been something I’ve been willing to accept, that’s just me).

I find it interesting now to realize that the intentions I am setting for myself now that I’ve left law school and re-emerged into the working world are reflecting a similar internal process.  I am observing where I am, what I am hoping for my future and what I need in order to be productive in the present.  I am conscious of the “hard” expectations my employer and co-workers have of me and I am conscious of my needs at the same time.  I am aligning myself with a balance point.  It’s hard to explain, but I can feel this in my body.  There is more length to my spine than when I do not pay attention to both aspects.  There is a feeling of emptiness not in terms of not having enough, but of being ready for more.  Even my tail bone is happy to feel balance between both sides of my bottom.  This may sound silly or insane, but from my perspective it’s significant.  My body is giving me signals as to how aligned with my goals and intentions I am.  There is no pain in my posture right now.  There is no tension I am holding onto in various areas of my body.  THIS seems to indicate alignment, both within my physical self and in terms of how that physical (also mental and emotional) self are aligned with the larger world I am moving within.

Does this make sense to folks?  It feels like discourse that is worth engaging in.

3L year has started.  I’ve re-shuffled classes, spent an exorbitant amount on casebooks that do little but make my eyes glaze over, and the fun has just begun!  In all seriousness though, there’s a difference in me now.  And it’s not necessarily a bad or sad one, as I often report from the dungeon of law school.

1398991_10201622950175624_3601028634142264250_oTwo images came into my mind the other day. First was of a mound of string suspended in front of my face. My arms were outstretched as I furtively tried to gather the whole thing at once.  There were feelings of fear here, anxiety, a sense of urgency I couldn’t unplug from.  The second came right after, and it was of this same string but in the form of an untangled line.  This time, instead of grasping for more than I could even fit in my arms, I simply picked up one end of it, and holding on ever so lightly, began to move forward.  I experienced a sense of peacefulness and stability from the second image.  It felt like I could trust that being where I was, or having pulled through however much of the thread as I was able to, was enough.  I didn’t have to keep reaching; I got this sense I was already where I needed to be.  Instead of feverishly pulling or reaching for more, I could rest in the awareness of where I was.  And from that place, just allow, rather than push myself, to keep moving.

I posted this on Facebook mostly to people’s puzzlement — what does it mean, charitable FB friends chimed?  I’m pretty sure it has to do with being in touch with what is closest to my core as a person.  And finding the delicate freedom that comes with ‘staying true’ to who you are while at the same time recognizing you’ve got to tow a line in this world.  As an obsessive seeker of truth this has always been challenging for me.  I’ve always measured my happiness by the degree to which I could ‘let go’.  Law school’s been tough because it’s forced me to ‘hold on’ for dear life.  Now, it seems, I am learning to find a balance…

Income Tax.  Final Exam.  Yesterday.  9 am.

Per usual, got up around 6.  Fed & walked the dog.  Meditated a bit on all the tax-related thoughts swarming my brain (exam-specific ‘monkey mind’ if you will).

Packed a snack bag of bananas & peanut butter.  Water bottle.  And embarked on my half-mile journey to school, again per usual, on foot (helps me feel alive, think, and conserve gas not to mention parking money).

Surprise: at no point did I feel I needed coffee.  And oh, did I mention I’d been up late the night before playing music with friends?  I felt well-rested though in all regards.  Still felt tired in a sense, as the whole exam land seems to induce a sense of fatigue that is neither rational nor healthy, and I didn’t go to bed super-early.  But, my soul felt fed.  And somehow, the specter of caffein presented something more analogous to a threat to my system than a harbinger of greatness.  It felt unnecessary.  It felt like I would be going over and beyond the place I needed to be in order to take this test to my fullest, authentic ability (more on ‘authentic ability’ in a future post…).


So how did I do?  Won’t have any idea for weeks.  But let me tell you where I started from and why no coffee = awesome.  At the outset of my first year, (am finishing my second year of law school now), I had just detoxed from an eight year Adderall habit.  Yes, eight years.  Of a steadily increasing tolerance that gave me a lot of energy, that’s for damn sure, and a means to focus that I’d previously never known.

In short, I loved my Adderall.  And I’m glad I took it because it gave me a baseline for evaluating how strong my ability to concentrate and produce can be.  I also now understand the underbelly to focus though, when it becomes manic, or when it becomes something you are unable to turn off.  This is in general, and when it happens as a byproduct of drugs.  Because the truth (to me) is, regardless of whether it’s a substance aiding your focus/sapping your ability to chill, when you reach a certain space of “focus” you may need the ability to pull away, or ratchet down.  Now it’s hard enough when “natural” stress has gotten you there, but when you’ve got a substance inducing it, or exacerbating it, this task can become even more of a project, even more of a demon you don’t want to face.  And then things like coffee, or on the other end, even harder drugs, become all the more necessary.

So my decision to leave Adderall before law school rather than after was a hard one.  I knew I’d be shooting myself in the foot in some sense, but a voice also told me I would become stronger for having engaged in this battle without it.  What I’ve found is that by not being on it, I’ve had to work really hard to find my On switch, but I’ve also not handicapped myself from finding an Off switch.  In that sense, leaving Adderall has enabled me to find balance.

I’m not saying getting good grades would not be easier with Adderall.  God knows.  I yearn for that shit sometimes.  But I’m learning how to take that yearning for more and convert it into affirmation that what I have already and who I am at this moment is enough.

We’ll see how grades turn out.  But more than that, I can tell you right now how I feel — great.  That’s because regardless of what my exams say, I KNOW my ability to tap in as well as tap out are strong.  And this seems like a pretty sweet indicator of growth, which is what I am in school to facilitate in the first place.  And learning the law is something I want on top of that, not in exchange.