Monday, May 23, 2016

Siddhartha: A Yoga Therapy Perspective, By The River

Part of the Practicum to be a certified Yoga Therapist for Integrative Yoga Therapy is to do some journaling from questions from Herman Hesse's Siddhartha. Here is my attempt to answer question A.

a) In the chapter, By the River, Siddhartha becomes depressed and almost commits suicide. He then has a vision that transforms his life and sets him on a new phase of his journey. Many of those who come to you in yoga therapy will be in a situation not too different from Siddhartha. They’ve lived their lives according to a certain set of beliefs and these have become questioned, often in the face of illness. Have you experienced a major turning point like this in your life? Have you also seen it in your yoga students? Describe one of these experiences.

I first want to give the context of the Chapter, By the River.

“He wished passionately for oblivion, to be at rest, to be dead… Was there any kind of filth with which he had not besmirched himself, any sin and folly which he had not committed, any stain upon his soul for which he alone had not been responsible? Was it then still possibly to live? Was it possible to take in breath again and again, to breathe out, to feel hunger, to eat again, to sleep again… Was this cycle not exhausted and finished for him?” pps.87-88

"Then from a remote part of his soul, from the past of his tired life, he heard a sound. It was one word, one syllable... the holy Om, which had the meaning of..."Perfection"." pg 89

In 2011, I was hired for the Set Decorator position on a very big budget TV show on a major network.  It was the first time in my life that I had secured such a prestigious position. There were many people with more experience than myself who had been up for the job but I was the one chosen.  It felt like I had received the fruits of what I had been working towards for the last fifteen years of my life.  I was the Set Decorator on a big network TV show. This was what I thought I had always wanted.

But straight out of an episode of Fantasy Island my fantasy of being a Decorator on a big TV show was in fact a nightmare.

 I was working 20 hours a day, I  got shingles from stress. No matter how hard I worked I couldn’t seem to get the work done.  I first lost ten pounds and then I gained 40. A big budget meant big expectations and I was much more of manager of labor and resources than a creative person which I thought I was hired for.  I had no kind of life. I was completely exhausted, on edge and overworked. and I had work related nightmares when I finally did go to sleep.

Then, all of the sudden, the show was cancelled.  It was also rumored that the episodes I had worked so hard on were not going to even air.  There had been a regime change at the network and the new regime didn’t want anything to do with the old one. All the projects from the old regime were being shelved. I couldn’t believe it.  I had worked so hard, even sacrificing my health for something that wasn’t even going to see the light of day.  And why had I worked so hard? I didn’t love the material, I didn’t even like the job.  My supervisors were incredibly difficult to work with.  And now that I had received my fantasy I didn’t want it.  Was this what I had been working for all these years?

“There is perhaps nothing worse than reaching the top of the ladder and discovering that you’re on the wrong wall.”
― Joseph Campbell

I hadn’t enjoyed my career already for ten years.  But I had convinced myself if the budgets were bigger, if the projects were prestigious, if had more crew, then everything would be better.  But here I was on the bigger, better, prestigious project and it was worse than the little jobs I had been embarrassed about working on.  On the little jobs at least I was creative. Here I had to delegate all the creative aspects of my job in order to be available for meetings, tech scouts and managing personnel.

And was that what my life was going to look like now? Working 16 to 20 hours a day for the rest of my life? Why does film and television have to always be so hard?  Why can’t we work an 8 hour day like most people?  Why is 12 hours the bare minimum?  I had given up so many things already for this career, I had given up having children,  having friends, yoga, and even my own health to step up to the impossible expectations that seemed to be always demanded of film and television production people.  I had kept telling myself it would get better, it would change, and instead it kept getting worse.

I knew the expectations of TV and Film would never change.  I would have to change. I would have to change careers.  I would have to take breaks and I would have to say “No.”  And my breaking point was that I had worked so hard for a project that wasn’t even going to be seen.

No, this Film/TV life was never going fulfill me.  I was never going to be made whole by dressing sets. God hadn’t put my on this earth to work so hard decorating imaginary places for imaginary people there must be something else that I could do.  Something I could do and feel good about that wouldn’t leave me sick and exhausted.  I needed to search for that.

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