More Human not less
If you’re anything like me, you may have spent some time and energy attempting to minimize the qualities of being human— e.g.
- playing victim
Just to name a few…
I have found the practices of yoga and meditation tantamount in creating space to actually begin to witness these thoughts and emotions from a place of the witness, allowing me to respond instead of react.
Case in point: I’m on my mat and we have a substitute teacher for my FAVORITE teacher, whom I have not seen most of the summer. I tell myself to let go any disappointment and remain open to possibility.
I don’t actually feel that great this morning- tired, distracted by having had nightmares, and female issues. I don’t push myself too hard physically and as the teacher advises “take what I need”; which is lots of time in child’s pose.
I notice my desire to have her nurture me. I notice my wishing she would run her hand down my spine, making a connection and honoring my choice. I notice disappointment. I breathe and let out a big, loud exhale.
I see the other women: fitter, stronger, thinner. I notice my initial comparison and decide to let that go too. Inhaling I choose space, exhaling I choose emptiness.
We are about to enter fish pose and I go to grab for my block. The teacher unwittingly grabs it before I can and places it under her spine to demonstrate. I notice my upset. I grab the other block near the top of the mat and I CHOOSE to breathe into the feeling of disconnection and judgment. I lie back, open my heart and surrender into the earth.
I tell myself to keep using my tools: pressing into earth, relying on breath, and engaging my core (the VERY CENTER of me).
If we can notice we have given our peace away, it is much easier to draw it back to us. It’s living in the space of being off-center and not recognizing our own power over the situation which leads to a downward spiral toward moodiness, anxiety, over-eating, or depression.
What started out as me not feeling optimally could have spiraled into me having a bad day and beginning a story in my head of victimhood, woe is me. Eventually, I would probably take this out on my unsuspecting husband.
In savasana or final rest I fully embraced nurturing MYSELF, no one else needs to do this for me. I fully leaned into being human and having thoughts and emotions that in the past may have led me to judge myself but now I see are not the real me, they stem from a place of disconnection to my true self. My Highest self desires peace and wholeness and that can only be embodied when I can allow plenty of space for every human emotion. I don't dare ever again trap my wild, flourishing & tender self in a cage of disparaging thoughts. I am F R E E !!!!
The Body of Christ has a missing limb
multiply my eyes
so that i might glimpse all their glorious +
O I see you!!
make me a hundred ears to
hearken sorrow's echo
through the canyons
O I hear you!!
a thousand arms to embrace
the multitude of plagued + broken
O how I feel you!
a million feet
to walk a trillion miles
just to hold a single
the body of christ
revealed in mud--
in holy flame
cooled only by
a cyclone of
transforming ashen wreckage
the body of Christ has a missing limb
tender + brambled belly
If one part suffers, every part suffers
if one part is honored,
every part rejoices
the body of christ
has a missing limb
stigmata-wound bruised for my iniquities
the body of christ
has a missing limb
one breath separates
in the hollows
you are the missing
Deep calls unto Deep
found peace on my board
that sacred space meant to carry both ego and spirit
surfing a life well-lived
just might prove that our humanity is not
the opposite of our divinity but the manifestation of it!
sensing we all might just be royalty after-all
confident in my mission
in my uniqueness
like a drop of water in the ocean
I am at once an individual
and yet complete and integrated with the whole
I am one with the rolling deep
because deep calls unto deep you know
and the mystery that is profoundly curling in on itself is
undulating out a rhythm in a cadence called Life
surrender to it
the ultimate in revelatory freedom
listening to the voice of tension
by anita brown
Eat pray love author, Elizabeth Gilbert was on Oprah Soul Series talking about her month-long journey into meditation and silence where she went to battle with the thoughts in the head. She realized this was not a battle after all. These fears, voices of negativity, past mistakes and shame represent parts of herself that one could liken to the little girl pieces that are crying out for attention.
One wouldn't scold the child and berate her for her needs. After years of trying what doesn't work, one might find that with patience, love and light these "little ones" quiet and settle down, eventually acknowledging that "Mother" knows best.
I too have had a similar experience in Centering Prayer meditation numerous times. My description felt more like the "ugly, dark pieces of lead" wanted to be transformed into GOLD. By sitting with the inner blaze, following my breath, I could trust the alchemy-like process.
On my mat this morning, for the first time I began to hear the cries of my tension and stiffness as voices needing my compassion and kindness. Normally, I advise students to send breath to the sensation arising in the various parts of the physical body. Now I see for me the healing potential in identifying the resistance with a name.
Inhale up- arms overhead feel expansive and notice tightness between the shoulders in the back of the heart. "Ahhhh you are grief". Well yes I feel the depth of your longing to be known my dear. You are like all the grief ever felt in this crazy, sad world. You are the grief of abandonment. A father never met in 49 years.
An emptiness desiring nothing but acknowledgement.
Deep and bottomless. With breath and love I hope you eventually find space to calm and then rest.
Runners lunge, exhale fold over right leg. Lengthen torso with breath. Engage root lock and steady. Yes I recognize you as the "inability to trust".
I know, I know.... I have not always been trustworthy.
Studying the balancing of the chakras I have learned this stems from the abandonment wound to the root chakra, the base of me. Muladhara: this place in the body should have experienced stability during childhood; but the little girl, me, didn't know why her father left her. She felt unloved and unworthy. She went looking for attention in the world as the ego dragged her around with its lame attempts at wholeness and healing. But the ego was disconnected from the True self. How do I know this? None of it worked!
I was only left feeling guilt and shame. Yes, these beauties must live in my hips. That near constant nagging tightness. Bring on pigeon pose: stay, stay with this unease. Breathing life and spaciousness into the hips feels so necessary.
I'll bet you can guess what word my heart whispered in our very first night of yoga teacher training when asked to allow space for one word to arise that will represent my primary area of growth over the 7 months--- R O O T E D!! What is even more fascinating is the fact that something within me throughout our coldest winter in years was calling me to go out and lie on the ground. And each time I did this, a low level of anxiety I had awakened with would dissipate.
At the time, I wanted a word like the other students: love, connection, compassion. Now I see the accuracy of this single word in continuing to heal my childhood trauma. In a state of deficiency the root chakra can manifest as digestive issues, infertility, anxiety, poor focus and boundary issues. I suffered from all of these while I was disconnected from my physical body.
I trust I will meet students who will benefit from hearing how yoga has helped me find peace and healing and more teachers who will guide me to deeper and deeper levels of connection to myself and others.
I look forward to hearing from you and how yoga is putting the pieces of you back together!!