It began with a text exchange:
Hey Rachel, that’s a sexy, sassy new POF profile!
…What new profile?
…Uh, you’d better call me.
A friendly Fish directs me to the username of the new profile that has cropped up on Plenty of Fish. “It’s definitely you,” he says with animated concern, “The pictures are of you. I was surprised, but though, oh well, maybe she’s going in a…uh, new direction?”
The new profile – called “FlexibleRachel” – depicts a sassy and garish – though not entirely unattractive – version of me. Vaguely demeaning. Titillating photos. Coquettish posturing. You get the picture.
The first flush of incredulity washes over me, “Oh…my…god,” I say, staring at the insipid captions. “This took a lot of time. And this person has obviously been reading my blogs, too. Like, they’ve done research. Wow.”
A fake POF profile.
Of course, impersonation must happen all the time. The world of social media is run on the honor system and people are primarily regulated by their own good sense. But because I would never think to post a profile of someone else, I just couldn’t have imagined that someone would do it to me.
“Are you okay?” my friend asks.
I search my feelings. Am I okay? How much does it bother me to have a ditzy avatar out there in the plenty of fish world?
I had mixed feelings. After all, we live in a world of digital identity. Our “character,” which used to be revealed through our personal interactions with other people, is now branded, packaged, and tied up in a bow through pithy FB comments and photo streams. We have replaced our social character – in some ways – with our personal marketing.
However, the question at the bottom of the rabbit hole is simple: where does my sense of self truly come from? Am I who you think I am? Or am I who I think I am?
Our yoga practice sometimes suffers from a similar confusion. While the traditional intention of the yoga practice is to foster a rich, deep, and trusting self-connection, we often turn the classroom into yet another opportunity to compare:
“I can’t do that pose as well.”
“She’s better than me.”
“Damn, I am good, I nailed it!”
“How do I look right now?”
“Don’t fall over…don’t fall over…don’t fall over…”
“I will not take child’s pose! I will not take child’s pose!”
Even our yoga class – which can be a sanctuary for inner nourishment – easily becomes a ground for self-judgment when we practice on auto-pilot.
Reclaim your sanctuary
It’s time to reclaim your practice as a sacred place for trust, love, and nourishment. A place to come to our steadiest, deepest home: ourselves.
- Let your own inner voice be the loudest,
- Be an audience of one,
- Discard “should,” “right,” “wrong,” “good” and “bad” and replace them with “feel,” “trust,” “nourish,” “risk,” “play,”
- Give yourself permission – for just an hour – to use the tool of your practice as an instrument for deep feeling and love rather than judgment.
And begin to watch your non-practice life transform.
As we begin to trust ourselves more deeply, we can remain steady when the external winds – whether it’s a job change, the end of a relationship, or a fake POF profile – begin to blow. Rather than scrambling to protect how we “appear,” our inner trust will support us and allow us to respond mindfully and with integrity.
Go to yoga class. And come home.