A few weeks back, I attended my buddy Drubner’s wedding. As the party reached full tilt, I ran into a group of people smoking cigarettes.
Most of them know what I do for a living (teach yoga) and looked at me with an expression of such surprise and disappointment as if I’d just unzipped my fly, hung some brain, and said, “Do you guys mind? All that dancing is making sweaty.” It was that awkward.
Big deal, so I have a cigarette 3 times a year. Go ahead, circumcise me, or wait, that’s not the expression…crucify me! But while I’ve got the opportunity, let me just say I know of no less than 7 well-known yoga teachers who will tag butts on a big night out. I say that not to sell my fellow yogis down the river, but to suggest that vices (in control and on occasion) are not entirely bad.
People who are too healthy are annoying. And I’m pretty darn healthy, but on occasion I enjoy an ice cold Negra Modelo, an intermittent shot of Anejo, and 3 times a year…a Parliament Light.
“This is blasphemy! Where’s the unsubscribe button?!” you exclaim. Hold on. Let’s take a moment to define the difference between wellness and repression. Wellness is one’s honest aspiration to a healthy diet, consistent exercise, loving relationships, and here and there allowing those cute little inner demons to come out and play. Otherwise, those demons, repressed, will scratch and claw their way into your life via what the Bhagavad Gita defines as their 3 entry points: lust, anger, and greed.
Now don’t get me wrong. Smoking and drinking are TERRIBLE for your health, horribly addictive, and make you smell bad. Have you ever taken a yoga class by a teacher with bad breath who wreaks like cigarettes and alcohol? G-R-O-S-S (see the “Dirty Smelly People” chapter in my book) But suggesting a path to wellness that eliminates all vices entirely is completely unrealistic for 95% of Americans. Life is a grind and we must reserve the right to sometimes let loose. Or…the stress we keep in and the frustrations we hold back will be as toxic as the worst addictions.