In a lecture recently, Jacob Glass shared his experiences with a men’s naked yoga class. Thankfully, it wasn’t at all what I expected to hear.
I’m sure there were nightmare moments with a room full of men in downward dog. I mean, there are some angles of scrotum-viewing that should only be seen by doctors.
But what Jacob shared was the sense of liberation.
And one of the things that struck me was the awareness that, in this naked state, we are without many of our tools of judgment. Without fashion, we lose much of the “evidence” of how we are different.
Ahh, what a glorious thing. To lose the clues we use to separate us.
It is crazy how much effort we put into the things that divide us. The brands we wear, the styles, the music, the TV.
And each of these products works very, very hard to remind us of how important these distinctions are.
In fact, modern marketing does an incredibly effective job of convincing us that our identity is shaped by these things.
I’m a Pepsi drinker.
I wear Drakkar.
I drive a Prius.
But it re-enforces one of the most painful patterns of modern life: “Trying to be something.”
We work so hard trying to achieve or maintain the identity that we have “picked” for ourselves, that we have no real sense of who we *really* are. (I say “picked” in quotes because when we are acting as a result of socialization, we’re not really choosing it.)
The irony is that while it would SEEM that this passive reception of identity would be effortless, it is actually loaded with a deep, deep stress.
Let’s say you have grey hair.
Culture convinces you that grey means old and lame.
So you die your hair and feel the surface pride of looking how you should.
But now you have a false layer between who you are and who you present to the world.
Which isn’t that big a deal, except that then we live in fear that our REAL self will be discovered.
And this is an important distinction.
Being called out/attacked for something is EXTREMLY traumatic if you are trying NOT to be it.
For example, if you are in the closet, it is horrifying to be outed.
But if you are openly gay, then it is hardly matters if someone points it out.
The same is true with every aspect of our personality.
So much of our insecurity is NOT because of who we are.
It is because we are not who we pretend to be.
I can be extremely insecure about my skin.
When I was younger, I had constant outbreaks, made much worse by my crazed picking.
So I got in the habit of wearing makeup.
It started as Clearasil cover-up, but moved into straight-up foundation.
Now, this was long before the Metrosexual era, so there was absolutely nothing cool about it.
In fact, I was deathly afraid of someone finding out.
This was made even worse because I was also super insecure about my skinny neck and big ears…so I wore a turtleneck every. Single. Day.
So I lived in constant fear of my makeup getting on my turtle neck and then someone noticing.
I can remember someone once asking why I looked so orange. That moment was one of the most terrifying of my life.
Years later, I started to come to terms with my weaknesses.
(The web was actually instrumental in helping me be at peace with who I REALLY was as opposed to who I wanted to be.)
And I remember how calm and liberated I felt when someone asked me “why do you look so orange?” and I replied “Oh, I’m kind of insecure about my skin, so I wear fake-tanner and sometimes use makeup.”
In that simple expression, I diffused any possible weapons that could be used against me.
By owning my weaknesses, I became invincible.
Of course, it isn’t a weakness…it is merely reality. But we are conditioned to see these things as weaknesses.
I learned that trying to be something is EXHAUSTING and whether consciously or not, you live in terror of being discovered.
There is an old quote my grandpa would say, “I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.”
If you are trying to be something…and then get judged in some way, that is painful! Why? Because we tried to be something and failed.
But if we are genuine and are judged, that barely stings at all. Why? Because we have no role in who we are. It would be like judging the sky for being blue.
So as advertising is giving us these amazing gifts to smell better & look cooler it is really tricking us into enrolling in the system of insecurity. The system that takes constant vigilance to maintain the persona we create.
Does that mean all products are crap? Not at all! But we need to learn what desires are motivated by our heart’s desires. And which ones are motivated by fears or ambition.
I recognize the supreme irony in me talking about this.
I am certainly NOT at peace with image and persona.
In fact, I may have ridden the pendulum a bit far in the other direction. So I simply created a persona that is outside the norm.
But in recent months I have started to baby-step into a new level of liberation.
Because the “creating yourself” trap goes far beyond fashion.
All day long we make choices and share information in order to further an agenda. This agenda can be overt or subconscious…but it is definitely there. It is the agenda that the ego uses to get what it thinks it wants: the white picket fence, etc.. So we may act smart in meetings, name drop, adjust our posture, and spin information so that it best suits our plan.
Obviously we don’t do this consciously.
But this style of living has the same problems as this style of fashion.
We end up trying to maintain a path that is inauthentic.
We may get “what we want” but since we forced it to happen, it lacks the same joy.
Recently I was in meetings with a production studio about TV show ideas.
I wasn’t sure how much I should tell than about my experience and history with pornography and adult projects online.
What if we made a show that became popular? It would take 2 minutes before naked pictures of me appeared.
So at first, I shared the “truth” but presented it as softly and minimally as possible.
I was trying to steer the outcome. I was afraid of the consequences.
“Oh, I did this little thing, no big deal, but there may be naked pics of me out there.”
After sitting with it, I realized that I did not want to ever worry that someone would find out about my past.
If I am “unfit” to host a mainstream show, then so be it.
I would rather speak to 5 people authentically, then speak to an amphitheatre full of people and have them think I am something I am not.
So I have started to sink into full transparency.
I will simply be.
I will stop strategizing and maneuvering.
And simply be honest and truthful with what I share and how I feel.
I will let go of ambition.
And trust the flow.
Float more, steer less. Love more. Fear less.
If I live in truth, and let go of the outcome, then I will arrive in the perfect destination.
If I strategize to try to make a certain outcome happen, then I am falling into the trap of thinking that I know what is best.
And I still have the constant stress that my strategy will be undermined, ineffective, overturned, etc..
What if that doesn’t work!?
Before that is was a stressful thought.
Now, it is simply an indication of the divine direction. That didn’t work? Then it was the wrong direction. (Byron Katie says, “You were spared.”)
And so I told my TV partners all about the porn. I even handed them a copy of the PINK+AID dvd, an X-rated Katrina fundraiser I organized (and appeared on camera in) a few years ago.
And the result was not disastrous.
Nobody was shocked. No plans were scrapped.
Instead, we opened up to much better show ideas that integrated the full realm of my personality.
And so now I am VERY excited about a new pilot idea. I’ve lost some of the raw ambition. I’ve shed some of the “I wanna be famous” ailment. I’m now at a place where I would MUCH rather have market failure with personal truth, than have market success with personal failure.
It is all about letting go of ambition and surrendering to the flow.
Our instincts tell us this will make us powerless. But the opposite is true.
This is why people say the truth will set you free.
The freedom is from your personal cage.
If you live in simple honesty, there is very little that can rock you.
The meek shall inherit the earth, indeed.