Tag Archives: separation

The Wolves in Sheep’s Yoga Pants

lululemonThey say that any publicity is good publicity, and it seems like this past week is no exception for Lululemon. In an interview for Bloomberg TV, Lulu founder Chip Wilson was responding to issues with the pilling of some of the company’s women’s yoga pants when he said, “There’s always been pilling. The thing is that women will wear seatbelts that don’t work [with the pants], or they’ll wear a purse that doesn’t work, or quite frankly some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for it.” The media jumped all over this, as did what seems to be the entire yoga community. The media’s behaviour is never going to change, because they emphasize what serves to draw in viewers, readers, and hits to their websites. I’ve got a message for the global yoga community, however, and I want you to pay attention.

I don’t know Chip. I’ve never met him, and I may never. My relationship to him is irrelevant. The fact is, he’s a guy. A human being. And every single one of you reading this has said something at one point or another in your life that, if recorded and turned into a sound byte to be replayed over and over again, would make you look pretty stupid/insensitive/selfish/callous, etc… I’m not going to defend what Chip said, because it sounds pretty hard core. However, I understand what he was trying to say. I’ve gained and lost weight throughout my lifetime, and I know what it means for my jeans to feel tight on me when the weight I’ve gained on my thighs causes the fabric between them to start to wear away from the friction of them rubbing together. If the president of Levi’s came out and said that some people just don’t have the right body type to wear the jeans, insinuating that I’m the cause of the wearing away of the fabric, I’d be pissed off as well. I’d resent not having the head of the company fess up to the fabric itself not being resilient enough to handle my body type. But as Wilson says earlier on in the same interview that very few people have stopped to listen to in its entirety, “The thing is when you push technology…we are a technology company, and when you push technology that’s not like software, an actual physical product, there’s a thousand things that could go wrong on a technical fabric. It’s almost impossible to build a quality control case for each one of those combinations.”

The work Lululemon is doing with clothes and technical fabrics is always a work in progress. I know this because I have sat down with designers and buyers to discuss existing issues with the clothes and what could be done to improve the quality, wearability, design and durability of the products. Chip admits to having made mistakes in the past, and his choice of words relating to the pilling issue may just be the latest one he’ll make. But it won’t be the last one. You know why? Because the guy is human and he’s doing his best, just like every single one of you were the last time you fucked up in public and had the reflection of your words or actions mirrored back to you by the people around you.

The fact of the matter is this, yogis: we should know better. We should know better than to start spreading hate and judgement all over the internet because we feel wrong done by. Every single second of every single yoga or meditation practice we’ve ever chosen to spend our time and energy on was intended to teach us that connection is our goal. We are being divided and separated by our governments, by lobbyists, and by heads of companies that have something to gain by making us feel less than, and if Chip and Lululemon fall into that category for you as an individual, then so be it. But hold on a second – every single thing we’ve learned from the yoga teachers and teachings is meant to be applied between stimulus and response. We get riled up by something, and…HANG ON…how are we going to react? How do we want to impact the world? We’re supposed to know better. What promotes unity and evolution when faced with the threat of separation? Throwing judgement and venom around or doing every thing you possibly can to do your part to make sure it doesn’t happen again? For those of you who have gone off on a downward spiral of self-indignation and anger, did you take a moment to write a letter to Lululemon’s team in Vancouver or to a store manager in your community to suggest that the issue of the fabric should be looked at again as the strive to produce technological fabrics that work with all bodies evolves? Did you decide to give Chip a break by remembering when you too said something that might offend and focus on what good Lululemon has done so far in its evolution as a community-driven company?

I’ve already written about what Lululemon means to me and how this company has been by my side as I’ve found my feet and worked harder than I’ve ever worked before at bringing connection back to the world. You can find those posts here, here, here, here & here. The team at Lululemon has sent me flowers to congratulate me on the evolution of my career. They have invested in my well-being so that I can continue to effect change in the lives of others. They have helped me get teaching gigs at major international yoga festivals, and they are holding a special event to help launch and promote The Examined Life, a book I diligently and painstakingly worked on for over 18 months. They have and continue to be my family, and if your brother made an off-the-cuff comment on TV and the world turned on him to beat the crap out of him, you’d get defensive as well.

The fact of the matter is this: Chip has created an incredible company. Nothing is ever one thing, and there will always be growing pains, so those of you who are content listing every bump in the road that Lulu has endured to post online and stir up the tsunami of anger can continue on. But you’re missing the point entirely and just contributing to separation. We should be coming together as a community to help Lulu get over this bump and be better for it instead of trying to tear them down. I’ve written about this in the book – we build up the people and companies that we find revolutionary and in keeping with how we want the world to be, but when those same people show the slightest hint of humanity, we tear them down and set fire to them. It’s time to grow up and ask if we’re pulling our community down or contributing to its growth and long-term well-being with our thoughts, words and actions.

You may not agree with my thoughts and opinion, and that’s how it should be. I’m as much of a work in progress as Chip and Lululemon are. I’m as much of a work in progress as you are. Let’s do what we can to make things work for everyone, ensuring that we create the space in which anyone is allowed to fall and fuck up, knowing that they will have support and helping hands to stand back up with. No one gets it right on the first attempt, but to try and shoot everyone down who tried something new would ensure that we stay stuck and stagnant, and my entire career is based on moving forwards and re-instating connection. Don’t get distracted from what you seek long-term, and make it your mission to see that become reality no matter what you have to give. Stand up and contribute instead of branding those who display the slightest shred of humanity with a scarlet letter. We know better, so let’s apply what we know.

Keeping Up Appearances

bedroomI spent a ridiculous amount of money last weekend on a duvet cover. Over the past year, my partner and I have been sprucing up our bedroom, and the final touch was the bed-cover, and so after months of fruitless searches, I came across what I was looking for. The price initially threw me off, but I quickly caved, entered my PIN at the register, and then walked away with my purchase intent on forgetting that the financial transaction ever happened.

I got home, put the new cover on the bed, and voilà, the bedroom overhaul was complete, picture perfect. I spent minutes just admiring the overall aesthetic of the room, standing back from the bed and steeping in the feeling of happiness that I got from seeing the project complete.

Cut to that evening: my partner is getting ready to get into bed, and I instruct him to wash his feet. To keep that white cover pristinely white, I instructed him to wash his feet. As God is my witness, I, in that moment, became my mother.

When I was younger and lived with my parents, my mother would spend months redecorating rooms in our house, and I would always wait anxiously for the big reveal. The day would arrive when the last detail would be completed, at which point I would be coiled up, waiting to spring off onto the new furniture, anxiously waiting to languish in the newness of it all. My spring was always thwarted when my mother would look at me and pretty much tell me that the only way I was getting onto the new furniture was over her dead body. These rooms weren’t meant for lounging! How silly of me to assume that they would be 😉

The practicality of the duvet cover got dwarfed by the effect its appearance made on me, to the point that I almost didn’t want it to be touched. The irony and ridiculousness of the situation was initially lost on me, but gradually became clearer and clearer.

The appearance of things can be harmful. The appearance of things is what separates us, what promotes disconnection and solitude. The roaring undercurrent of humanity and the collective experience of being is what unites us. You may never have thought about it, but how many different ways are we encouraged to focus on that which separates us from each other, and, ultimately, from the essence of our being?

Social media is all about appearances. I can guarantee that if I trawled through every single Facebook profile I could find, I’d discover an entire population of people who are living the most incredible experiences on a daily basis. Unlimited funds, endless possibilities, and the widest array of the finest things in life are on display in any given profile. The illusion of everything we’ve been led to believe brings happiness is carefully constructed and then tirelessly maintained as those around us keep their profiles sleek and polished. What doesn’t get Instagrammed, Tweeted, or posted, however, is where the real deal resides, the stuff that we should be sharing but prefer not to for fear that we’d be creating our own sense separation. We have a deep-rooted fear of standing out for the “wrong” reasons. I got the new iPhone? Amazing…post it immediately. That trip around the world is just around the corner? Perfect…get it up there for all to see. I’m being plagued by feelings of inferiority and insecurity? Um, hang on…..press [ignore].

I’ve said this countless times, but at the risk of sounding repetitive,  here goes: what is commonly accepted as being good or worthy is only good or worthy because it’s commonly accepted. Just because everyone thinks one way or does something according to one method doesn’t make it right. It just makes it popular. Each one of us has the responsibility to reach out to the rest of the world from that place that typically holds us back from being fully authentic, and put our realities out there. Forget the gloss and the sheen, it’s time for the dirt and the grit, because that’s the truth about how we’re living, and trust me – we are all living the same experiences. I mentor and teach a lot of people, and I can tell you with certainty that everyone has the same fundamental fears, hopes, needs, and dreams. The faces of these may differ, but what lies beneath is always the same: the desire to live authentically, without having to keep up appearances, and the hope that good will always triumph over evil.

I believe that good always (and eventually) triumphs over evil, even when, in the moment, the opposite scenario seems true. This is a core belief that I hold to be true. Many others don’t share that belief, simply because the isolation of a life based on appearances has left them disillusioned and separate. We have the choice as to how we live this life we’ve been blessed with. If we want a life rich with hope and perspective, where light always infiltrates darkness, then we have to understand that connection to each other is essential. Connection will only occur when we shift our focus from how things look to how things are, and then discuss it.

So there you are: start discussing. Start sharing what you’d never dream of sharing. Others are starving for a dose of humanity, for the opportunity to be privy to a moment of truth instead of a moment of superficiality. The floor is yours – discuss!