Soft evening light through the bedroom curtain, the view from my yoga mat. 6/8/11. Canon EOS Rebel XS.
Fear and anxiety have been coiling tightly in my belly, my whole being recently. Change is afoot, speeding toward me (set to arrive the 24th of this month), and what lies beyond the change is, at least in large part, unknown. I tell myself it’s a field full of possibility in my more lucid, centered moments. But the fear of the myriad of unknown details, the anxiety of knowing it’s coming, and feeling–despite years waiting for this very thing–like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming big rig, have had me tensing up…Tensing up and feeling angry with myself for feeling scared and anxious.
There has been, as morning pages and pre-bed mental dumps into my paper journal over the past few days reflect, a lot of not-so-nice self-talk going around and around in my mind. I mean, really, what kind of sense does it make to direct anger at yourself for feeling scared and anxious? It doesn’t. It only furthers the suffering.
Also today, it really hit home how much I’ve cut myself off from people. I knew when I arrived back here from university graduation that I didn’t want to stay, so, as the years have gone along, I’ve isolated more and more, keeping people at arm’s length, trying not to put down roots so that it would be easier to leave. Unfortunately, I discovered I have put down roots, and, on top of that, I’ve been increasingly lonely. I can be so good at fooling myself sometimes.
With the internal upheaval around endings and new beginnings on the horizon, a new life for myself needing to be born in the near future, I decided that this evening’s yoga practice would be this YogaGlo class by Elena Brower.
I didn’t know quite what I was getting myself into, but I am so, so thankful for that 45 minute practice session.
I’ve heard of people dissolving into tears during their yoga practice. I’ve sniffled a little a few times myself, but this evening brought a flood of the cleansing variety. The main focus of the class was softening the belly and allowing for possibility. When the tears started, I felt all the gut-level tension start dissolving. Those knots from the fear and anxiety came untied. I saw how downright cruel I’ve been to myself, not just recently, but across decades…Never satisfied with what I’ve accomplished, always angry at myself for not being better or doing more and doing it better.
No wonder I am so scared! When anger at self, and, though it pains me to say, little pockets of self-hatred, along with the resultant self-doubt, are taking up so much mental and spiritual space, how can you believe yourself capable of making your dreams reality?
The short answer? You can’t. Or, at least, I haven’t been able to.
This is what makes all the good advice in the world useless, all the support from friends and family seem like it’s not enough. This is what keeps me standing still. It’s nothing outside of me stopping me. It’s just me, standing in my own way because I tense up in every way possible, because that anger at myself, that self-hatred and self-doubt, formed a Fort Knox-worthy vault around my heart, locked down so tightly that even faith in the Divine, self-trust, self-acceptance, and self-love couldn’t really get in in measurable, effective quantities. It happened so gradually over the past few years, that I didn’t notice exactly how closed-down I had become.
Something about this evening, something about the quality of the light coming in my window, something about that particular combination of yoga poses, breath work, and the soothing words and tone of the teacher blasted a hole in the side of that vault. Tears came rushing out. Love and acceptance began flowing in. It’s true, what Sri K. Pattabhi Jois said in one of my favorite quotes: “Do your practice, and all is coming.” I’ve been practicing, but what came wasn’t quite what I expected. It was what I needed.
I’ve got a-ways to go, but the opening is there if I’ll let it stay. I want to let it stay, but that’s going to take lots and lots of practice and probably relapses. But I can’t give up this time. I’ve had a taste of feeling okay, of feeling enough, like, hey, yeah, I really can have that life that calls to me without the self-flagellation. I want more than a taste.
Here’s to softening and opening to possibility, dipping my toe back into opening up to other people, and many, many more evenings spent figuratively “hugging it out” with myself on the yoga mat.