Illustration: Dr. Sunitha Krishnan, The Magazine of Yoga. Original photo by Joi Ito.
Real Life is Real Yoga
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST SUSAN BLOOD
All of my best ideas are stolen.
I don’t remember what we were doing when my friend asked if I had heard about “be, do, have” because as soon as she started explaining it I forgot everything else. I also hit myself really hard in the head because it is so very, very obvious I really should have thought it up all by myself. In retrospect, I recommend the idea-stealing more than the head-hitting.
“Be, do, have” is a process that gives a boost to being fully ourselves, a journey that many of us approach in the wrong order.
If you aspire to be something or do something specific with your life, you follow this process, which is a mobius strip of action. There is not a point at which you are done.
You start with being
You may be a writer or a ballerina or a toymaker elf dentist, but whatever you are, you must be it. You know it in your core.
It is who you are.
When I was in Munich, where I didn’t know a single soul, I decided to be a Woman Who Wears Dark Lipstick. After a couple weeks of catching my reflection in store windows and rear view mirrors, I stopped being surprised at my appearance. By the time I left Munich, I was so comfortable with my new look that no one could pinpoint what was different when I got home.
This is a very superficial example, but it is the same if one is shy about claiming a particular title – an elf who knows in his toy-maker soul he is a dentist, for instance. While moving to Munich is inconvenient, proclaiming yourself to a test group is one way to get comfortable in your own skin.
Next, you do
If you are a writer, you write. If you are a ballerina, you take ballet lessons. If you are a toymaker elf dentist, you practice dentistry. You don’t let anyone bully you into being what you are not. Nor do you let yourself bully yourself into being less than what you are.
This is your practice.
In the case of the elf dentist, you fix all the teeth of all the toys and then you go out into the world and continue your practice. You may find yourself (spoiler alert) called upon to do some Very Big Things with Very Big Teeth. This will not phase you, because remember? You’re a dentist.
After being and doing comes having
You have a career. You have awards. You have a necklace of Abominable Snow Monster Teeth which gives you lower back pain when you wear it but, damn it’s cool.
At some point in the having process, you may forget who you are and need to go back to being – which never actually stopped.
You also need to keep practicing because laurels get flat and uncomfortable when you sit on them.
My sister has always been a teacher. Before I was old enough for school, she made me picture books and taught me to read. She chose her career path while still in elementary school and never strayed. After earning her Bachelor degree in elementary education, she moved across the country and studied to became a certified Montessori teacher. She’s had a classroom for many years, watching students go all the way through her school and off to college.
She is, does and has.
As a teacher, she is required to do a certain amount of professional development each year. She has to keep doing if she wants to keep having.
She also has to keep being
After many years of teaching kids, she realized that what she really wants to do is teach adults how to be better parents. She had been answering parenting questions all along and realized that no one arrives on this planet knowing how to do it.
So she started parenting workshops. She still teaches children, but she has expanded her sense of who she is and why she is here. It turns out you don’t have to be the same thing year after year.
And thank goodness, because the dark lipstick was getting old.
Do what you do because you are who you are
Last weekend I heard a talk by Dr. Sunitha Krishnan, internationally recognized anti-human-trafficking activist and founder of Prajwala. Listening to her talk about her early life, it’s clear that Dr. Krishnan was never not an activist. She does what she does because it’s who she is.
So often we look at people who have successful careers and we want what they have. But do we really want to do what they do? Have we practiced enough to tackle the really, really big teeth?
In our hearts we know who we are. Now put your action where your heart is.
Be. Do. Have.
Dr. Krishnan: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunitha_Krishnan
I don’t think Hermey the Elf has a wikipedia page.
Dr. Sunitha Krishnan, born in 1969, is an Indian social activist and chief functionary and co-founder of Prajwala, an institution that assists trafficked women and girls in finding shelter. The organization also helps pay for the education of five thousand children infected with HIV/AIDS in Hyderabad. Prajwala’s “second-generation” prevention program operates in 17 transition centers and has served thousands of children of prostituted mothers. The NGO’s strategy is to remove women from brothels by giving their children educational and career opportunities. Krishnan and her staff train survivors in carpentry, welding, printing, masonry and housekeeping.from Wikipedia
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.