Steps to Spiritual Surrender By Gabrielle Bernstein
I remember reading an article about Lady Gaga years ago when she was first starting out and thought how intriguing. A year later I heard she took a private yoga class at one of the studios I worked at in Cleveland and thought how humbling. She seems to defy the conventionality of fame. From what I see she embodies character--a willingness to do what is right independent of what others think or do. This is a rarity with pop stars. This is a rarity in general.
Here's her top 10's.
An abridged version
by JOAN DIDION Joan Didion’s seminal essay “Self-respect: Its Source, Its Power,” which was first published in Vogue in 1961. She wrote it not to a word count or a line count, but to an exact character count.
Once, in a dry season, I wrote in large letters across two pages of a notebook that innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself.
I had not been elected to Phi Beta Kappa. This failure could scarcely have been more predictable or less ambiguous (I simply did not have the grades), but I was unnerved by it; I had somehow thought myself a kind of academic Raskolnikov, curiously exempt from the cause-effect relationships that hampered others. To such doubtful amulets had my self-respect been pinned, and I faced myself that day with the nonplussed wonder of someone who has come across a vampire and found no garlands of garlic at hand.
Although to be driven back upon oneself is an uneasy affair at best, rather like trying to cross a border with borrowed credentials, it seems to me now the one condition necessary to the beginnings of real self-respect. Most of our platitudes notwithstanding, self-deception remains the most difficult deception. The charms that work on others count for nothing in that devastatingly well-lit back alley where one keeps assignations with oneself: no winning smiles will do here, no prettily drawn lists of good intentions.
The dismal fact is that self-respect has nothing to do with the approval of others—who are, after all, deceived easily enough; has nothing to do with reputation—which, as Rhett Butler told Scarlett O'Hara, is something that people with courage can do without.
To do without self-respect, on the other hand, is to be an unwilling audience of one to an interminable home movie that documents one's failings, both real and imagined, with fresh footage spliced in for each screening. However long we post- pone it, we eventually lie down alone in that notoriously un- comfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether or not we respect ourselves.
To protest that some fairly improbable people, some people who could not possibly respect themselves, seem to sleep easily enough is to miss the point entirely. People with self-respect have the courage of their mistakes. They know the price of things. If they choose to commit adultery, they do not then go running, in an access of bad conscience, to receive absolution from the wronged parties; nor do they complain unduly of the unfairness, the undeserved embarrassment,of being named corespondent. If they choose to forego their work.
In brief, people with self-respect exhibit a certain toughness, a kind of moral nerve; they display what was once called character, a quality which, although approved in the abstract, sometimes loses ground to other, more instantly negotiable virtues. The measure of its slipping prestige is that one tends to think of it only in connection with homely children and with United States senators who have been defeated, preferably in the primary, for re-election. Nonetheless, character—the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life—is the source from which self-respect springs.
Self-respect is something that our grandparents, whether or not they had it, knew all about. They had instilled in them, young, a certain discipline, the sense that one lives by doing things one does not particularly want to do, by putting fears and doubts to one side, by weighing immediate comforts against the possibility of larger, even intangible, comforts. Again, it is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has its price. People who respect themselves are willing to accept the risk that the venture will go bankrupt, that the liaison may not turn out to be one in which every day is a holiday because you’re married to me.
They are willing to invest something of themselves; they may not play at all, but when they do play, they know the odds.
That kind of self-respect is a discipline, a habit of mind that can never be faked but can be developed, trained, coaxed forth.
To have that sense of one's intrinsic worth which, for better or for worse, constitutes self-respect, is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference. If we do not respect ourselves, we are on the one hand forced to despise those who have so few resources as to consort with us, Without (self respect), one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself, and finds no one at home.
B Boundaries-You are clear about your boundaries and hold them and clear about my boundaries and respect them
R Reliability--I can only trust you if you do what you say you are going to do over and over again
A Accountable I can only trust you if you own your mistakes and make amends for them
V Vault What I share with you you will hold in the strictest of confidence.
I Integrity Choosing courage over comfort/you practice your values not just profess them. You don't just go for fun, fast or easy
N Non-judging. You are able to give as well as receive. When I struggle and fall apart I can trust that I won't be judged or condescended by you
G Generosity You generously assume that I meant well with my intentions & behavior and will check in with me when not clear
DC February 2016 Listening to Oprah and the tenets from her talk: “The way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself what is the next right move. Then the next right move. Not to be overwhelmed by it. Your life is bigger than that moment. I don’t believe in luck. Failure is there, to point you in another direction.” “Your real work is to figure out where your power base is and to work on the alignment of your personality. “
“I consider it a compliment that I am full of myself. I am not afraid of honoring myself.” “Every single thing is preparing you for the next thing. You don’t even need to know what you are being prepared for.” “I used to give away my power. Now that I know better I don’t have to do the same thing over again ever again.” (Check out her 10 ten ways to success!)
I went to hear Douglas Brooks speak in 2008 and was captivated by the concept of Lila—my yoga teacher friend Marni from Cleveland, named her baby this——and this is what I wrote about Lila in July 2012
Dream: I had a dream about a man who was young and died as a result of something he did. I am not sure of what he did but I think it had to do with a car accident. His parents were at his side right before he died and he wrote the word “off” twice for his dad to see right before he left his body. “Off” as in something he did was off and ended in death or was it “lift off” ‘I am out of here’? I am not sure. I just know that I awoke thinking about Lila. The divine dance of the Universe and what it all means. Because stuff happens all the time that doesn’t make sense; sometimes the Universal pull and energy is on our side and sometimes it is not. I guess for this guy it was all karma….not Lila or maybe it was Lila taking a nap. The other face of Lila we don’t want to see.
We learn karma from such an early age. It is the earth’s magnet…it is the spoon dropping from the highchair that once dropped can no longer be reached until we bend down and pick it up. Even though karma isn’t immediate we know it exists. A sense of ‘gotcha now or gotcha later'…but the bite will come eventually. It is the essence of Buddhism…the ripple of existence that keeps echoing until we can somehow evolve and get it right. Karma has a predictability that somehow keeps us in line. Even thought we might not be believers in anything else; on a primitive level we all believe karma to be true. It is a ‘new age’ word with an old age meaning.
Lila though is something all together different. Lila is that which can never be understood. It is the psychological concept of ‘learned helplessness’ in spades. It is “stuff happens”. Lila is grace—it is forgiveness when one does not deserve to be forgiven. It is a whim, a prayer and a dance all in one at the same time not co-occurring. It is a paradox that is misunderstood because it doesn’t make sense. In Christian philosophy it is the resurrection of Christ so that our lessons are buffered by prayer and forgiveness. The slate can be washed clean through the power of repentance. It is petition and contrition. In Tantric tradition it is the mirror and window…as you look out you look in….
Karma and Lila… free will and pre-destiny. Not one or the other but the intertwining element of both that creates beauty and mystery.
Post Note: After the dream, coincidentally a few years later, I had two clients that took the same risk that this young man did, one lived (in 2014) and the second one died (in 2015).
storytelling from on and off the mat