But that was just me avoiding the fact
that I was avoiding the pain. I was drinking every day, just enough to take the
edge off. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of edge
to take off right now. There’s so much
“ow” in this now. I was drinking to not
feel it. And I started to wonder why.
I tend not to want to dredge up the
past. But I began thinking about when I
was five and was hospitalized for a blood
disease that was initially diagnosed as
leukemia. There were spinal taps and
daily blood tests. The doctor was always
telling me: “It’s not going to hurt.” Maybe I misunderstood his accent, because
guess what? It did hurt. And I suppose I
got the idea that hurting was something
so profoundly bad that it couldn’t even
be acknowledged. That pain was worse
I told my mother I had stopped drinking. “Do you think now, with everything
going on,” referring to some issues with
my house and my career, “that this is the
best time for you to stop drinking?” she
asked. Which made me laugh.
Because now is the best time. It’s the
only time. The first sutra says: now is
the time we do Yoga. Because whenever
we do Yoga we are in the now. And not
drinking has put me more in the now,
even, and especially, when the now is
incredibly painful. I couldn’t help but
wonder: was sobriety a kind of Yoga?
Larry Dossey, in his book Space, Time
and Medicine, explains that pain contracts time, and painkillers (analgesics)
expand time—not to mention your waistline. Painkillers really bloat you, the prescription kind and even the second-bowl-of-ice-cream kind that you sometimes
need to make the pain go away.
I started to think that maybe the pain
we’re in as a culture comes from a sense
of life contracting. And that the more
we can do to expand time, by laughing,
singing, crying, practicing, loving, connecting with friends in real life, not just
online—which is really just a shortcut to
being more detached, contracted—the
less pain we are in.
I am following the path I lay out in my
show 100% Happy 88% of the Time.
Rather than bury the pain in some dark
hollow inside my body, I let myself be
unhappy, aka in pain, 12 percent of the
time. I try to not be “fine.” I try not to
be in unacknowledged pain. Because I’ve
noticed that it is not possible to convert
the painful 12 percent of life experiences
into total joy. But fine is something you get
stuck in. It’s a flatline. In fact, “fine” is ac-
tually a contraction of “flatline.” F’ine. A
contraction of a state of contraction.
But change makes us unhappy, because
we tend to cling, and change means
letting go. But we have to change to be
happy, because life is change. So the
truth is you have to be unhappy to be
happy. It’s so simple. Painful, but simple.
Beth Lapides and Greg Miller will be teaching
the Comedian’s Way at the Kripalu Center for
Yoga & Health May 27 – 30 and again
July 10- 15. For more information,
visit: Kripalu.org or Bethlapides.com