In a yoga class that I once took, I learned an exercise that helps you to focus and center.
You take your hands and put them next to each ear. Then you move them back and forth. If you do it for a full minute, you feel centered and can feel awesome electricity between your hands.
I teach an "act it out/anger management" class at Homeboy Industries. I have said before that Homeboy Industries to me is heaven on earth. If you have never been there, or do not know what I am talking about, you need to Google them immediately. RIGHT NOW.
And if you are in LA, go check it out. You will leave with an expanded heart.
I taught this yoga exercise in class, and I said that I thought this is a good exercise to use to help focus, stay centered and calm down when you're angry.
Somehow that sentence was completely taken out of context.
During the class, everybody made fun of me and said,
“So, Ms., if someone wants to hit me, instead of hitting them back I should do this exercise?”
They then demonstrated their hands flopping back and forth.
"No, that's not what I said," I say.
I made a silly comment. We all laughed and that was it.
Well, at least I thought that was it.
What I did not know is how far the conversation continued.
I found out that in a different meeting later that week someone actually mentioned in dismay that the crazy lady from "act it out" (me) said that if somebody comes to hit you or when you're in a fight, you should do this ridiculous exercise and everything will be okay.
And, of course, everyone got a good laugh at my expense.
But then someone in the class said,
"Actually, when I was taking the bus the other day, somebody bumped into me. I was angry, so I closed my eyes and I envisioned myself doing that exercise.”
My colleague, a beloved friend who was facilitating that class, not knowing yet that the crazy lady is me, asked, “How did that make you feel?"
He answered, "Ridiculous!" but then he added that he started laughing so hard that it actually worked!!
She told me that as he was talking she realized I was THAT teacher.
This week in class, somebody shared that after he got into a big fight with his wife, he went into the restroom and, instead of becoming violent, he sat and did the exercise.
He added that the entire time he was doing the exercise he felt like a total idiot and that THAT made him laugh, and that he was laughing so hard he stopped being angry.
I really had no intention that my little exercise would become such a talk of the town. I also didn't think that this exercise is the end all and be all of anger management.
But what I do know is that sometimes we need a distraction.
And humor, well humor and laughter, can dramatically change any situation.
My students came to tell me how everyone was talking about it.
Each story was more exaggerated than the next and completely out of context, and to be honest simply hilarious.
People were walking down the hall waving their hands near their ears and smiling at me.
I tried to explain what I meant and what the intention of the exercise was and then I realized, whatever. Let it go.
It’s okay. People are happy. They are doing the exercise and it is creating something good.
Sometimes you need to let go.
This past year there have been a few times that my words were taken out of context, and it wasn’t so good.
Actually it was very bad, but then as now, I had to work hard on letting go.
On my way home I was laughing out loud in my car.
I thought of the funny faces, the joy, the cynical remarks and how we all had such a good time around this, and all was good!
So, as we enter the Jewish New Year, I invite you to let go.
Let go of what does not matter.
Let go of what has hurt you.
Let go of what makes you angry.
And, most of all, let go of what is holding you back.
Do a silly exercise, and have humor, lots of it.
And above all?
Love, clean, simple, and from the heart. Because at the end of the day, THAT is what will move us forward.
May the New Year bring happiness and joy to you and yours! If you have not gotten your ticket yet…
Please join us on October 21st for The Advot Project Evening Garden Party.
To purchase tickets or to make a donation, please visit:
It is going to be very special!