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    Thursday
    Nov152018

    Creating A Square Hole

    I resisted a regular yoga practice for years because of how positively uncomfortable even the most remedial postures (like sitting on the floor) felt. It was analogous to the guy who doesn’t go to the gym because he’s so thin that he’s embarrassed doing ten pound curls, so underdeveloped are his muscles. For such a person, even the most basic of exercises with the lightest of weights feels so excruciatingly difficult and awkward that motivation and discipline can be completely sabotaged by horrific self-judgement. 

    That was me attempting yoga. I would be doing a very simple posture and feeling like a completely defective physical being. “You’ve got to be kidding me”, I would say to myself. “There must be something seriously wrong with me. I can’t even hold or do this elementary posture without hitting a wall almost immediately. I’m hopeless. I’m a lost cause. Why fucking bother?”

    Spending almost three months here at Kripalu has radically shifted my perspective, and, more importantly, my self-compassion. When I stopped crucifying myself, and just accepted where I was at, as uncomfortable as it may have been, everything shifted. This was an internal shift. Nothing on the outside changed. 

    This shift allowed me to put my energy into figuring out the best way for me to practice yoga, instead of putting energy into what a complete boob I was. I realized that I had special needs when it came to yoga, and that I had to treat my body with unlimited kindness, unlimited compassion, and unconditional love. Getting mad at my body for not performing the way I wanted it to did about as much good as getting mad at my self for suffering from the malady of depression. That is: No Fucking Good At All. 

    Once I was in a place of love and acceptance, rather than judgment, I was able to come up with ideas on how to further my practice. I hired a private yoga coach (like, duh, Clint). It never occurred to me to do that before. I mean, when people who are neophytes to the world of weight training want to build their muscles, they often hire a personal trainer. It’s the best thing they can do for themselves. But I was blind to that option because I was in so much self judgment. I was blind to exactly what I needed, even though I already knew exactly what I needed.  

    My first session with my new private yoga coach went like this. “I’m not interested in doing any sort of flow. Currently, I move through the poses with about as much grace as Trump moves his way through the presidency. I also don’t want to focus on strength right now. My muscles are already heavily taxed with resistance training. My triceps scream bloody murder, even a week after I hit them at the gym, just supporting myself in upward dog (which made me realize I had to stop pushing myself so hard when I lifted. So I modified my routines accordingly). I want to focus on alignment, making my body longer and more flexible, and educating myself to the intricacies of the practice. I’ll worry about isometric yoga strength and grace later.”

    What I did was take myself out of “Supposed To” mode and moved into “This Is What I Know I Need Right Now” mode. I was avoiding flow classes at Kripalu like the plague, for good reason. My body was telling me “Not Now”. Instead of sucking it up and doing it anyway, I was actually taking care of myself by not doing any flow classes. When I realized that not doing those classes, classes that I was intuitively resisting, was in fact an act of self love (and not undisciplined avoidance), I could focus on what I did need. Instead of trying to jam a square peg into a round hole, I just created a square hole. What an epiphany. 

    Initially, yoga was a demotivating practice for me because my body was trying to tell me something, but I wasn’t listening. I wasn’t feeling better about what I was doing, I was feeling worse. So I wanted to do it less. When I started listening to the wisdom within, I opened myself up to a constructive, motivating process, as opposed to an unmotivating, destructive, one. 

    In some areas of my life, I’m an expert at listening to myself. In other areas, not so much. But when I cultivate paying attention in one area, I strengthen my ability to hear myself in all areas. Moreover, I particularly develop paying attention to the wisdom in those places where I have traditionally told myself to just shut the fuck up. 

    That’s it. I’m happy with this piece. So now I’m going to shut the fuck up. 

     

    ©2018 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.

    Monday
    Nov052018

    Rock Your Boat Baby

    “Rock ’n’ rollers are....the noise makers, the law breakers, the bottom-bashing fornicators.” 
                     - from Pirate Radio
     
    “And we make no apologies for it.”
                     - from SuperFly Clint

     

    A while ago, I caught Van Halen perform on the Jimmy Kimbal show. The band shut down Hollywood Boulevard and performed live, in the street, on a huge stage. A true rock n roll event. The song aired was “Hot For Teacher”. 

    Crowd shots showed 6000 people, none of whom were shaking, head banging, dancing, or otherwise moving. They were all standing still, smart phones held with both hands overhead. Not even their heads were moving, lest the vibration shake their camera and ruin their footage.

    I get it. Those 25 and under have grown up in a culture where virtually everything is video recorded; where the message is that it's more important to digitally capture what’s happening than to viscerally experience it. And, truth be told, if us fifty-somethings had access to smartphones when we were young, I’m sure we would have responded similarly. 

    But at the same time, I know that we are missing something when, in the midst of the magic of music, we, by conditioned default, choose physical immobility over movement, focusing our attention on the recording of an experience rather than the living of it. When we choose the more primal choice of throwing our bodies and our hearts into an experience, we create opportunities to profoundly shift ourselves. When we instead placate ourselves and become little more than a glorified witness, we take ourselves one more step out of it, and lots of us are more than a few steps out of it even before we hit the “record” button, because we have become desensitized, guarded, and otherwise disconnected from our hearts, virtual strangers to our deeper selves.

    I’m not admonishing or criticizing video recording. Personally, I love being in front of a camera, and I love capturing footage. I’m simply sharing an observation, opening a path, and questioning normalized behavior.

    Maybe it’s a question of balance, of mindfulness, and of passion. Capture a little footage, but never forget that we’re here to throw ourselves - body, heart, and soul - into an event. Into Our Life. The phone as video recorder has become another distraction, maybe even an experiential replacement, for our minds; instead of being in our heads, per usual, we can be in our phones. Maybe that even offers some real time relief from being upstairs so much. 

    I’m offering another way to live beyond being talking heads. Drop into your heart. Way down. Allow yourself to Feel The Music. Connect to a full body, full heart, full being response. Maybe you can do that while you’re recording, but the footage is gonna be damn shaky. Can you live with that? What’s more important? A stable recording, or having a booty-shaking-heart-quaking-physio-emotional experience?

    Even though we drummers are sitting down, we move our bodies as much as or more than anyone else on stage. Maybe that’s one reason I am so physically and emotionally connected to music, why I can’t sit still when I hear a song I love. Maybe that’s why I often sing, regardless of where I am, when the music talks to me. I’m just talking back. I’m having a conversation with my lover. I’m making love, fully clothed, in my car, in CVS, wherever, with Mistress Music. 

    And I don’t even have to change my underwear when I’m done.

     

    ©2018 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved. 

    Sunday
    Oct282018

    The X of My X Is My "Oh"

    Early last week up here at Kripalu, I was having dinner with a group of women when one of them looked over my shoulder, waved at someone, then got up abruptly and headed towards the door of the dining hall. I turned around and saw the back of a guy hurriedly exiting said door. It was one of those moments where you know two events are somehow connected, but you don’t know how. The woman (I’ll call her “Phebee”) who had suddenly gotten up from the table soon returned and rejoined the conversation.

    At the end of the meal, Phebee invited us all to go for a walk. I was the only one who took her up on the offer, and we headed towards the stairs together. Before heading down, she said to me, “I’m sorry, but I can’t go for a walk with you”. I replied, “Okay”, and looked at her, silently asking the question “Why?”. “Well I already told this guy that I would go for a walk with him. And that guy recognized you. You dated his ex-girlfriend.” In hindsight, it’s possible she said (or meant) “He’s dating your ex-girlfriend”. I really don’t know, because it never came up again. Phebee continued, “He doesn’t have anything against you, he just doesn’t want to hang with you”. 

    I understood. And I was intrigued. I asked Phebee to find out who the mutual X was. Hell, I was curious. The next day, I found out who the common denominator mystery woman was. 

    My first reaction was “Jesus. What are the fucking odds of that?”. I then wondered how this guy knew who the hell I was or what the hell I looked like. And, I also felt a bit of an ancient male energy kick in. I wanted to size this guy up. I wanted to check him out. That’s pretty natural. Especially since me and this X used to me madly in love.

    Over the next few days, completely by happenstance, this guy and I passed each other in the hallways and in the dining hall what seemed like an inordinately large number of times. However, while I can’t speak for him, I was, as I said, curious about him. And when there is a curiosity about something, or someone, the universe often presents opportunities to answer that curiosity. 

    We never said a word to each other. And let me stress that what I’m about to say is complete conjecture. I have no hard evidence for it. I do, however, have pretty slammin’ intuition, I am rather empathic, and I can sense the energy of other people. I sensed an uncomfortableness between us, and it wasn’t coming from me. I felt a palpable uneasiness from him whenever we were within a few feet of each other. Again, I’m spitballing here, but I had a powerful sense that this dude would have, if he could have, avoided me like the plague. 

    After both Phebee and this dude left Kripalu (and, true to form, he walked right past me once again as he was exiting the facility, presumably on his way home), I hit a yoga class. That’s when things really got interesting.

    As we started class, during the opening meditation, I felt a wave of emotion engulf me like a wet blanket. I felt myself start to profusely tear up. It got so intense that I had to leave class early, go to The Swami Kripalu Meditation Garden, and have a very long, hard cry.

    There are probably multiple layers to this emotional outpouring, but the only one I was fully conscious of was rested in a missed opportunity. I had the chance to take a risk, approach this guy and say, “I just want you to know, I have absolutely nothing against you. I don’t know anything about you, but I sense that you are a kind man. I wish you nothing but love, peace, and happiness”. 

    What also hit me was that it doesn’t matter if I was right or wrong about the guy’s experience. Even though I have good intuition and can sense energy, that doesn’t mean I knew what he was thinking or feeling. I could have just been projecting a whole story on him, maybe even projecting my own pain. But, as I’ve said, that doesn’t even matter, because it has nothing to do with the lesson I was reminded of.

    So I had the opportunity to potentially ease the discomfort of another fellow being, and I missed it. I had the chance to maybe help someone else, and I didn’t. Granted, I thought of it after the fact, so I’m cutting myself some slack. It mildly haunts me to know that I possibly missed a chance to maybe assist somebody who was maybe having a hard time, who was maybe uncomfortable, who was possibly experiencing some unease, who was perhaps even in some pain. 

    Throughout my recovery, indeed, my discovery, I have become acutely aware of my ability to impact people. I have become attuned to how profoundly I touch people; both painfully, through attitudes and behaviors that serve neither me nor anyone else; and lovingly, through attitudes and actions that bring forth my highest self. 

    I have been told, by more than a few people, in more than a few contexts, that I cast a long shadow; that I’m a hard act to follow; that I have a big, powerful presence. I’m not assuming those attributes have anything to do with the aforementioned situation, although it wouldn’t shock me either. Quite frankly, I’ve had a lot of girlfriends, thus a lot of ex-girlfriends, and I wouldn’t know but one of their pre-Clint ex-boyfriends (or current boyfriends) if they sat next to me, looked me in the eye, and told me their name. 

    The lesson I was poignantly reminded of is that, underneath whatever big, colorful, playful, powerful presence I have, there lies a very tender, very soft, very gentle, very sensitive, absolutely giant heart. That heart is in fact a huge reason I have a presence to begin with. I’m truly the sizzle and the bacon. I was reminded of my nature, which is to reach out and touch as many people as I possibly can in this life. Metaphysically, and/or physically, I want to wrap my body around people in a firm, secure, beautiful hug, and love them. What’s inside me is the heart of a man who really just wants to love you. Who wants to ease suffering. Who wants to make a difference in people’s lives. Regardless of whatever facts I’m either spot on or way off about here, I am reminded that, amongst other things, I am a healer. I am a lover. I am a man with a really big, beautiful heart. 

    "Performing the duty prescribed by one's nature, one incurreth no sin"

                                                - The Bhagavad Gita

     ©2018 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.

    Thursday
    Oct042018

    The Lessons of Hedonism 

    Precious gems, minerals, and Mother Earth herself, are all formed by heat, fire, pressure, upheaval, and complex cataclysmic processes.

    So, in many ways, are we.

    My privileged and beautiful existence has been starkly punctuated by plenty of trauma. Trauma that has partially molded me, formed me, and shaped me, into who and what I am today.

    It’s taken me a long time to wrap my arms around that; to fully embrace the traumatic events of my life, not under a veil of cynicism and anger, but as a process of transformation.

    Strongly hedonistic by nature, my mercurial proclivity is fundamentally drawn to the indulgence of pleasure, sometimes regardless of consequence. Give it to me, give it all to me, and give it to me, right now. Fuck the torpedoes. 

    The hard lesson remains that life is not all about that endless pursuit of pleasure. Although I never want to lose that wanderlust, it does not define me. It will not continue to be The Tarot of My Life. I’ve tried that. The journey is fun. Then it’s not. I know where it ultimately leads, if given full, unbridled reign. And it’s a dead end.

    Pleasures of the flesh: oh baby, do I love those. Pleasures of the ego: well, those feel damn sweet. Pleasures of all of that which is outside of myself; you will hear no complaints from moi. But all of those have a shelf life. And a rather short one. Which means that, if unchecked, my life simply becomes about looking for the next buzz.

    These days, my life is no longer just a vehicle through which I can satisfy my desires. My life is expanding into a vehicle through which I can take those experiences and teach others the lessons I’ve learned, the insights I’ve gathered, the wisdom I’ve gleaned, and the knowledge of self I’ve stepped into. 

    I’m glad to have been there. I’m grateful that I know what it feels like to go way too far. I’m thrilled that it has taught me so much. I bask in the wisdom that, such precious lessons are meant to be shared.

    We teach what we most need to learn.

    Ay-fucking-men.

    Many of us go through life never embracing such wanton desires. Many of us never know what it’s like to push the envelope so far that it no longer resembles an envelope. If I’ve been on the other side, it’s because I’m meant to share the joys and pitfalls and wisdom of such a traverse. My journey is thus not just a vein attempt at self-pleasure. It’s a also a tool to teach something to the world, so that I can contribute something to the lives of others. 

    The message I keep getting, over and over again, through all my recent upheavals, is that Life is now asking me to Go Big. To share even more. To Step it Up. 

    The last two years have been a barefoot walk though fire. Like gems, like precious stones, like the very bedrock under our feet, I am constantly being formed by fire, by turmoil, and by upheaval. By the embrace of mother earth and father sky. By the very heavens and by the very ground itself.

    My metaphysical experiences of both crying aloud whilst burning through a volcano, and smiling hysterically as I careen down a smoothly paved road in a Ferrari whilst getting a hummer, have taught me more than I ever realized.

    Rumi said that “The wound is where the light enters”. I would add that, once the light enters, it becomes our calling to beam that light back into the world. Only then, can we truly connect. Only then, do we create from our hearts. Only then do we love in the way of the divine. 

     

    ©2018 Clint Piatelli, MuscleHeart LLC, and Red F Publishing. All rights reserved.

    Monday
    Sep242018

    Ah, Angel

     

    Ah, Angel

    We met

    She danced

    So I named her

    Dance-ala

    We fell in love

    So I called her

    Yoga-la

    Cheeky-la

    Laugh-ala

    Tipsy-la

    Feets-ala

    Sexy-la

    Hug-ala
    Kiss-ala
    Love-ala

    Angel-ooh-lala 

    Shewasamymumma-la

    Angel, ah

     A     n     g     e     l     a

     

              - SuperFly Clint