Okay, so, what is even happening these days?
As a single gay man, I thought dating was hard enough once dating apps killed the romance. Then Miss Rona decided to take a world tour and push everyone into isolation with six-foot distances in place. Her little aftershocks of Omicron and Delta weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms, either. Now with monkeypox, or MPV, spreading around the globe, being single is becoming a harder and harder obstacle to overcome.
Look, even being 6’ 6” and constantly compared to Tom Ellis from Lucifer doesn’t make for an easy run these days.
Outside of trying to find love, gay men in general also have so many stigmas against them, especially in regard to their sexual proclivities. The current monkeypox epidemic has resurfaced a homophobic opinion that we faced during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the ’80s: that it’s all our fault. With as far as we’ve come as a community, there’s still many battles to fight to shed these false beliefs.
On a positive note, the last few years trying to navigate this insane thing we call the world has finally shone a light on the importance of mental health. Through that, a larger focus has been placed on the art of self-love and independence during trying times. There’s been plenty of gentle reminders that we don’t actually need anybody but ourselves for sex, love, and otherwise. That all the validation we require comes from within.
Sure, I wished I had a boyfriend during the pandemic, but I survived it on my own. And of course, it would be nice to shack up with someone these days and stop kissing frogs, yet I can still thrive alone. Britney Spears crooning “my loneliness is killing me” might hit a lot harder in my 30s than it did in my teens, but Destiny’s Child is always right there to remind me I’m a survivor.
Although it’s hard not to get wrapped up in negative thoughts and other people’s opinions, I chose to join the movement of self-love and inner awakening over the last few years, and I’m all the better for it. It can be so exhausting trying to please (and find) other people, and the search wasn’t doing anything to benefit me. Turning instead to physical practices like yoga and mental practices like meditation that focused on things like healing my inner child helped me find independence and strength that I knew existed somewhere but had remained dormant until I explored it.
When it comes to yoga in particular, I walked into the pandemic with an initial impression of “hating it” and not understanding its benefits. I alternatively chose to push my body through things like the P90X and Insanity, where I always skipped the yoga and stretching related videos included.
Once I dove into the practice, however, I learned something: Those who struggle with the stillness and challenges provided through yoga are the ones who need it the most.
It can be excruciating to sit with your emotions, your thoughts, perhaps even your pain, grief, or traumas. Our instinct is to run when times get hard, but there’s a reward for facing your inner demons and allowing the personal battle to wage. Self-care is just as much of an internal practice as an external, and there’s so much healing we can bring about if we simply turn our gaze more inward.
For me, connecting my breath and my body to all the movements explored during a yoga practice led me to find peace within myself and confidence to embrace any challenge presented. After I witnessed the death of my father, I learned about how emotions can get trapped inside our bodies and how a practice like yoga can release inner traumas and wounds. In regard to mental health, yoga has also shown to aid depression, anxiety, stress, and the overall wellbeing of the mind.
Our memories may work to forget certain things, but our bodies never will.
Nowadays, I teach the practice I once hated merely two years ago. I transform people’s lives while continuing to heighten and change my own. I learned you can take all of the residual loneliness from feeling the fatigue of a pandemic and transform your grief into your gift.
And if I can do it, you certainly can too.
As we move closer to the end of 2022 (excuse me, when did that happen?), remember that kindness, love, and peace start from within. Once you step into your own inner power, there’s no stopping you from there.