This morning as I stood in the lobby after my first Bikram class, I engaged in a conversation with a fellow practitioner. I’m not sure how or where the discussion started, but I felt prompted to ask him about his career. Turns out he runs a summer camp for kids in Colorado. He started telling me about his teaching philosophy and how each of us has a choice: we can choose to be tethered to the past or we can choose to work toward a point where the past doesn’t impact our present and our future.
My past still has a hold on me. I didn’t have an awareness of how much it did until a couple of weeks ago. Through no fault of my own, I went into a meeting unprepared. (When I say through no fault of my own, I mean it. I’d been asking for materials for a couple of weeks and hadn’t been given them until the night before). As the meeting started, I bore witness to how prepared the others were. I sat there for ½ hour trying to think about how I could save face when it came my time to talk. Somehow I managed to throw out some gems, but I left that meeting feeling like I’d been hit by the proverbial truck.
Intellectually I understood that I suffered no real consequence. Probably no one realized I went in with little preparation, but emotionally wounds opened up that I thought had at least partially healed. Apparently they had not.
Growing up I always felt second fiddle to my brother in everyone’s eyes, and I could recount details that would demonstrate the validity of that truth, but I don’t wish to go that route, to live in the past. It’s true, more than true, that I felt undervalued most of my life, but, in the end, I’m the lucky one. I’m the one who sat with dad so many nights last summer just watching him breathe and that did heal so much, but apparently more needed to come out.
I cried for almost two days straight, so intensely that my neighbor brought me some banana bread to make sure I was okay. I could see reality, but I couldn’t remove myself from the yuck of the wound. I didn’t really talk about it either. I’m not sure I could have made sense of it to others anyways. How could I explain how something so simple could impact me so deeply.
I started to feel more human, for lack of a better expression, after two days. Releasing the tears somehow helped heal me. Then, the universe decided to toy with me and someone asked me to do something I’m not sure I wanted to do. Sounds simple enough. I just say no, but there was nothing simple about the request. And it came from someone I value. There’s more to this than I’m revealing here, but there’s enough to get my point across.
And so the emotional roller coaster continued, and then after another day of feeling like a hamster in a wheel cage that wouldn’t stop, I got it. I finally understood my truth. My reactions to present situations reflected past cr*p that hadn’t been released yet. When I find myself reacting I need to step back and take a breath. Even if stepping back bothers someone else, so what? I’m working on my own sense of being. If I can train my mind to take that deep breath and walk away until I’m calm then I can separate the past from the present and untether myself from demons that don’t belong with me anymore.
Yoga gives me this gift. Through all these emotional tribulations I kept going to my mat. Being on the mat isn’t about achieving the “perfect” body. For me it’s about creating space in my body, my mind and my soul for the pure freshness and joy that forms my true essence. That’s why I keep going. That’s why I’ll always keep going to the mat. I’m freer. I’m happier. I’m healthier. I’m worth it.
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The photo below shows me doing final twist. I’m using it for this blog entry because I find the introspective look on my face very apropos for the subject matter. The pic was taken by Leila Brewster of Leila Brewster Photography.