Cutting cords and other sundry practices / by vanessa

Around the time when I completed my first yoga teacher training course, I started accumulating healing modalities like some people collect mason jars (just me?): cranial sacral therapy, color therapy, sound therapy, flower essences, crystals, meditation practices, hypnotherapy, Osho cards, vibrational cleansing. If there were an award for volume of healing types tried, I'd win life. Future Vanessa would have told Past Tense Vanessa that really, it's excessive, but Past Tense Vanessa would've only listened had the message been delivered in the form of a shamanic guide. So. Somewhere along the way a healer told me that I was picking up too much negative energy from others. "It's weighing you down," she said. She meant physically: I was carrying an extra 15 pounds. At the time, nothing spoke louder than a spiritual excuse for my ample thighs. She recommended a series of crystals (smoky quartz, obsidian), which I carried on my person daily. She also trained me to "cut negative cords." "Be weary of energy vampires," she said. I learned to smudge myself with the smoke of burning sage from the bottom of my feet to the top of my skull, then visualize cords attached to me by negative people, (sort of like sticky ropes binding my limbs), and release them one by one, returning them to their proper owners. It's a vaguely superstitious practice.

If you don't know about negative cords, I suggest pretending like you never heard a thing. Once you feel like you have something stuck to you, it is a consuming distraction. Argument with a co-worker? Negative cord. Get into an ill-advised relationship, ignore the flashing neon warning signs, then dude gives you the high hat? Negative negative negative cut cut cut. I became so adept at spotting negativity that often I would find myself weighed down mid-conversation. I knew where this was going.

One of the best things that has ever happened to me was becoming a yoga teacher. A colleague recently asked me what I thought was the key to being successful at business consulting. While this probably wasn't the answer she was looking for, I had to credit the teacher trainings. They show you how to be aware of what's going on in a room and with people in the room, how to observe when you're undermining yourself; to a certain degree they teach you personal responsibility. One of the other best things that has ever happened to me was walking away from yoga.

Guess how much the business world cares about negative energy and crystals and smudging oneself? Turns out, zero. I've tried. Ironically, it wasn't until I existed solely in this secular world--where I divorced myself from the competition for healing and spiritual evolution--that I experienced the space needed to see just how neurotic it was for me to get so wrapped up in my own process. I had developed a sort of spiritual hierarchy that I thought I could win.

I was steeped in a rightness that is now (thankfully) increasingly uncomfortable. (Admittedly, it's a hard habit for Enneagram 1-me to break.) Since stopping this practice of cord cutting a few years back, I have wondered about the people who have felt the need to cut the cord from me. And that's pretty humbling.