There is a certain magic and beauty to not knowing, to not knowing the answers, to not knowing the how, to not knowing what is next other than some seemingly magnificent step or leap into the unknown. There is something quite incredible about it all, really. Just like the wonderful reality of fireflies glowing on a warm summer’s night.
I didn’t always feel this way. I felt quite the opposite for a long time. There were times when the unknown, the uncertain, the most challenging, “turn your world upside down, rock the very foundation you stand upon events,” the “what-ifs,” the “now what’s” and the “how am I’s” left me feeling anxious, ungrounded, crying at times — a mess. Those times when I first got divorced and wondered how on earth I was ever going to raise two boys on my own, where the next meal was going to come from, how or what I was going to do to make ends meet, how I could possibly keep my head about me when both of my boys were seeing specialists at the same time…how, how, how…
It all worked out though. Each and every single time I perceived myself falling, perceived myself panicking mid-flight and feeling like I was about to crash head-first upon the pavement, I survived and everything worked out just fine. Better than fine, most of the time.
As I enter a new phase, a new period of growth, of exploration, of shedding the skin that no longer contains the person that I was-am now becoming, there isn’t much of that “how, how, how” panic do I do this? There is quite the opposite. There is a something, a distinctly feminine, gorgeous amazing, wild-woman rising-up-to-meet-herself something on the horizon like the new moon rising out of the depths of the ocean floor. There is a wildness, a beauty, a deep magical, intuitive trust and knowing, an inner sense, that everything is going to be absolutely, positively amazing — far beyond the “just fine’s.”
Not that long ago, one of my sons said to me,
“Mom you are magic.”
When I asked why he thinks I’m magic, he replied,
“Because, you always find a way.”
I don’t know how I always find a way, but I am always guided to. The path appears before me each and every time, and I choose to listen to the whisper, to the gentle sigh of the wind whispering through the trees to my ears. And, rather than get my feathers all in a ruffle wondering how, I now close my eyes, leap, and trust that these beautiful wings of mine will open and that I will soar upon the currents of the whispering wind into the most wonderful sunset that I have seen to this date. Is it unsettling at times? For sure. If you were jumping out of a perfectly good airplane into who knows what, chances are you’d feel a bit unsettled, a rush of adrenaline, butterflies in the stomach too.
You see? There is magic in letting go. There is magic in the whisper of the wind, in the knowing of not knowing anything about knowing anything at all. And, there is such beauty, such grace, such wild-kind-hearted surrender in the unfurling of ones wings when we choose to stop worrying about the how, trust in the great big nothing, and dance.
“This river has ancestral and spiritual importance to the Lenca people because it’s inhabited by the female spirits. These female spirits guard the rivers. The [River] is also used for growing food and for gathering medicinal plants and is vital to the entire population downstream. I believe it signifies life.” ~Berta Caceres
I saw this video on a friend’s FB page the other day and was moved to tears by it. Why, you may ask?
We, as a society at large, have come to value things more than experiences, certain ancestral traditions, lives, or the earth. In so doing, we at times have chosen to turn our backs on, commit atrocities to, and destroy an incredible lineage of wisdom, of knowledge, of connection that is, in my opinion, absolutely paramount to maintain, to honor, and to continue to pass on to future generations.
It is our elders, all of our elders, who often hold the keys to immense wisdom, knowledge of and connection to the land far beyond what most of us even fathom on a “good day”. I, personally, would love to spend some time in the presence of these incredibly beautiful and inspired people. Allowing space for the preservation and continued practice of indigenous cultures, beliefs, and lifestyles, has become a huge passion of mine and one that I find challenging to discuss without feeling emotional about.
We are so incredibly blessed that there are people who are waking up. There are people who see the value in the old ways, who feel it within their very hearts. There are people who are choosing to walk a warrior path honoring all life here on earth and honoring our Mother.
Why does it matter?
– respect for all living creatures
– stewardship of the earth — Do you want to eat money, coal, and oil; or would you prefer to eat food? Do you want to have clean water to drink? Clean air to breathe? Or, water that’s so polluted nothing lives in it? Air that’s so rife with chemicals and pollution that it’s challenging to breathe?
What can you do about it?
Educate yourself. Live a life that you are passionate about and share it with the world. Embrace your warrior heart and start taking care of yourself if you are not already doing so. Eat locally. Drink clean, spring water. Recycle and reduce your waste. Dance the dance that only you are capable of dancing. Be willing to see what the eyes cannot. Stand up for what you believe in, not from the mind, but from the sacred heart.
I learned, the day after watching this video, that Berta Caceres was murdered. May her legacy light the way to all she has left behind.
You know what I mean, single folks, divorcees, widowers, in-a-non-relationship-relationship women…
The primary day where our existence and our rating on the love meter is determined by some external influence. The day when if we’re not in a loving, giving, accepting, compassionate, understanding, yada yada yada relationship, we tend to stick our heads in the ground, bury our face in the blankets, put on a sappy chick flick and cry our eyes out over the box of chocolates we bought for ourselves – the one day out of the year when we tend to feel the most lonely, worthless, and unlovable.
It’s time for that to change.
Your rating on the love meter has nothing to do with some external influence. It is not defined by how many roses you get, how many boxes of chocolates you receive, or whether or not you’re taken out to some fancy restaurant where you wine and dine on champagne and duck.
It’s time to toss that perception right in the ol’ recycling bin.
Your rating on the love meter has to do with how you love yourself. It’s time to drop the bullshit stories you keep telling yourself as to why you’re not lovable, why you’re not good enough, why you’re not pretty, desirable, etc., etc., and act like you are! Why? Because you are lovable. You are good enough. You are beautiful. You are desirable. You are worthy.
True love begins and ends with you, not someone else.
Wild-hearted one, I invite you to dust off your clothes, dry your eyes, lift your chin and go spoil yourself. Show yourself how much you love YOU this Valentine’s Day. Treat yourself to a massage. Buy yourself that heavenly box of artisan dark chocolates and enjoy them, under candlelight, with an amazing glass of organic red wine (or Guinness if you prefer beer). Get dressed up, and take yourself out on a date to the restaurant of your dreams. Order that champagne and duck and treat yourself like the goddess that you are.
Why? I believe in you. I believe you are worth it and I believe you are worth learning how to love every inch and aspect of your wonderful self.
“Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. That is where you came from and where you’ll return. You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often. You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s Plenty.” ~Courtney A. Walsh
How are you treating yourself this Valentine’s Day? I’d love to hear in your comments below, how you are embracing #fiercelove2016 for yourself this year.
When we’re having a great day and really enjoying ourselves, it’s pretty easy to say that we’re having the best day ever. Have you noticed that?
What happens when less than ideal things happen to us? Maybe we were in a car accident, lost our wallet, dropped the cell phone in the loo…maybe we broke a bone, found out we’re experiencing an illness, or are mourning the loss of a loved one.
Perhaps you’ve realized that you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship and you sit there, on your bed, locked in your room, with a bottle of Tylenol next to you, wondering…
“Is this all there is to life?”
Or, perhaps the emotional pain you are feeling is too present, too intense to process and…
…you beg on hands and knees for some sort of physical pain so you don’t have to feel the pain within your heart.
You receive that pain only to spend three years learning how to get out of it, chasing your tail in circles. In that blind, circle-chasing process stumble over your own two feet to discover
in order to let go of the physical pain you’ve been feeling, you have to allow yourself to feel all of the emotional pain you’ve been numbing yourself from and hiding from.
What happens then? Do we say that it’s the best day ever? Probably not. Chances are, we’re more likely to sound like Alexander from “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”
I get it. I’ve been there. Up there, that woman who sat on her bed, who numbed herself, who begged for physical pain, over 10 years ago, was me. I understand what it’s like to have hit some sort of rock bottom and to wonder if you’ll ever pull yourself out of the hole that you’re in.
Just as a rainbow can light up the darkest of skies, we can choose to light up our own sky. Regardless of what happens to us or what we’re experiencing, we have a choice. We have a choice to choose whether or not we’re going to have the best day ever — regardless of the circumstances that come our way.
You may be sitting there saying that that is absolute cockamamie bullshit. That’s OK. I invite you to hear me out.
I suspect one day, you might reach a point in your life when you’re tired of “having bad days.” Is any day really bad? What defines a bad day? The day itself doesn’t change. The sun rises and sets, the earth rotates on its axis and around the sun, the moon waxes and wanes, the tides rise and fall. So, what’s different other than our perspective about that particular day?
You see, we fall into the carefully designed trap of living a life of comparison. We consciously and subconsciously compare each moment of our day, each experience we have, to all of the other experiences we have experienced and decide — good or bad; the best day ever, or the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Why? Why choose to compare? Why live your present life in the past?
Each and every single moment of every single day we are free to consciously choose what kind of day we are experiencing.
Wouldn’t you like to experience the best day ever, each and every day? Now, I’m not saying that dark, negative, or challenging experiences won’t ever fall your way because they will. It’s inevitable. It’s part of this human experience. However, you can choose how you react to those dark, negative, or challenging experiences. You can choose to flip the coin. You can choose to open the door to a part of yourself that you may not have experienced.
You can choose to reclaim your power rather than victimize yourself by giving your power away to the situation.
Notice the next time you find yourself saying “I’m having a bad day,” or “this is the worst day ever.” Make a conscious decision to flip the coin. Make a conscious decision to open the door behind which a new experience of your Self lies in wait.
I invite you to choose to say “I am having the best day ever.” You may not believe yourself at first. I certainly didn’t. Once I said that a few times to myself though, I experienced the cathartic, cleansing release of tears.
In that moment, I realized that the only thing holding me back from having the best day ever was me — my mindset, my thoughts, beliefs, and opinions, and my attitude. You too can choose to shift your perspective.
When you stop comparing this day, this one moment which you have never experienced before, with any other day or any other moment, when you choose to live life like there is no past and no future, and all that exists is right here, right now…you will shift.
If all that exists is this one precious moment, regardless of the experience and the visitor that has landed on the doorstep of your Home, what will you choose?
Over Halloween weekend, I co-taught a retreat for women in Charleston, SC. At the end of the retreat, the hosts and participants were gifted a piece of artwork, from local artist Laura Olsen. Each piece was given without any direction other than that from Source. This was the piece I received:
It sat, wrapped up in its tissue paper covering, until last night — December 1. Why, you may ask is that significant?
The evening turned out to be one of synchronicities, of meeting people I had heard of but never met, of re-meeting a woman I knew 10 years ago, to several people in the group finding out that each and every person there knew at least one other person there. Watching the web of interconnectedness weave its way through the space.
Being highly sensitive and empathic, I tend to feel my emotions and unresolved stories rise to the surface whenever lunar or planetary shifts happen. Out of curiosity, I headed over to Mystic Mamma to see what’s up.
Lena Stevens from The Power Path said that we’re in transition. We’re in transition on all levels of being and in all aspects of being. We’re in mid-flight over a chasm and it’s natural for us to look down, experience fear, and grasp for the known, for the familiar – for our survival mechanism. However, it’s time to let go of the past and trust what is unfolding as we speak. It’s also a time for accepting full responsibility for ourselves, our thoughts, beliefs, actions…
“Business, partnerships and projects will definitely be going through TRANSITION this month. You may be in transition at work or making changes to a project or simply planning to shift the way you do things in your business life.
Allow what is not working to surface even if it means an uncomfortable time of restructuring relationships and priorities.” ~Lena Stevens
Moments after sharing the article with a friend, I received a text from a studio owner who has decided to nix one of my classes because they don’t feel it’s bringing in enough money.
I realize it’s an “industry thing”…studio owners, you are hereby invited to get over your self-induced fears of confrontation and have conversations with your teachers. In person. You know, face-to-face, mano-e-mano. Text message is a horrible way of doing business.
Synchronicity yet again.
What does all of this have to do with butterflies? It’s too cold for them to be out now, so we’re not visited by them. However, the picture to me serves as a visitation from the animal. Oftentimes when I’m visited by an animal, I like to learn about it, what message it’s bringing, what it has to say about what I may be experiencing. I view animals as guides, as teachers, as messengers. As such, I value what their Spirit Nature has to share.
Ina Woolcott of Shamanic Journey, shares with us about the butterfly – a power animal symbol of…
the Soul, Creativity, Freedom, Joy, and Color
Are you following me?
“Native Americans see the butterfly as a symbol of joy. Feeding on the flowers they help pollinate, they further spread beauty.
Butterflies eyes consist of thousands of individual lenses. This gives them the gift of being able to see a single image clearly. They can perceive ultraviolet wavelengths of light, suggesting clairvoyant abilities for those with Butterfly as power animal. The antennae of the butterfly has small knobs on each end which are said to aid orientation. If an antennae is missing the butterfly will fly in circles unable to find its way. If butterfly is your ally you need to remain consciously connected to spirit at all times so you may fulfill your goals.
Butterfly is the symbol of change, the soul, creativity, freedom, joy and colour. Their power is transformation, shape shifting and soul evolution. They represent the element of air, quickly changing and always on the move gracefully. Butterflies are messengers of the moment and come in a wide array of colours. Studying these colours can help you uncover butterflies message to you. It reminds us not to take things too seriously and to get up and move. They teach us that growth and transformation does not have to be a traumatic experience. It can be joyous. Butterflies possess the ability to grow and change, leaving the safety of their cocoon to discover a new world in a new form without fear, trusting their untested wings to fly without a doubt in their minds. They work through many important stages to become the beautiful creature they are. Similar to the butterfly, we too are always moving through different stages, each equally as vital. It is no good rushing to a particular stage, nor is it good getting stuck at a stage and becoming stagnant. Butterfly is a potent symbol for those considering, or in the throes of, a big change. Butterfly is also one of the most inspiring symbols of the animal world, knowing precisely the time to leave the comfort and limitation of its cocoon, flying freely into the world. Quite frequently, we are not so certain. The cocoon of our thoughts and fears may be limiting, they are also safe and familiar. We can become afraid of what may be outside of our limiting thoughts and belief systems, trapping us and holding us back from ourselves, from our dreams and desires, from our unlimited potential.
We can learn how to move on, how to grow from and improve a situation by finding out which stage we are at. This may be the egg stage, the beginning – where an idea is born and not yet reality. The larvae stage is when you physically get your idea going, usually involving preparation such as planning. The cocoon stage entails developing your ideas, project or talent. The ultimate stage of transformation is coming out of the chrysalis, the birth of the butterfly. This last stage is about sharing the colours and ecstasy of your creation with the rest of the world. Remember that we are always evolving, growing and that we are always at one of these stages. Figure out which stage you are at, whether you need more time to complete one stage before being ready going on to the next. Be careful not to rush, nor get stuck either.
Not all change feels deliberate, it can be very subtle. Such as losing a job and then circumstances pushing you in to a new direction. There may have been things going on within you, getting you ready for a change subconsciously, that you didn’t even recognise. If you are feeling insecure and unsure of what is going on in your life right now, then look back over what has been going on in your life recently or even long ago. Have you ever wished that you had a different job? Of changing career? Are you able to see that on some level your wishes are coming true? I’m sure you will remember the good old saying ‘be careful what you wish for..’ What you focus on, is sure to manifest.
Butterfly can help you see that exiting the cocoon suddenly opens a new door, that there is power in trust and vulnerability. No more than you does a butterfly know whether it can fly, but it opens its wings in perfect confidence, and discovers that their delicacy allow its graceful flight, its dance in the air. When we understand that transformation can be as natural as breathing, when we take ourselves lightly, when we trust in our own untried wings to support us, we learn the message of Butterfly, life itself is a joyous dance. Dance brings us the sweetness of life.
The four stages of the butterflies growth are parallel to the development of our first forming a thought to manifesting it in the outer world. Understanding that change can be as natural as breathing. We mustn’t be so hard on ourselves, trusting that our own untried wings will bear our weight. This is when we receive the Butterflies gift: life itself is extraordinary and amazing. If Butterfly has found you, take note of the most important issues in your life and see what needs to be changed.
If an eco-system becomes damaged, butterfly is usually first to leave, as they are highly sensitive to the harmony of the earth. If butterfly finds you and is unwell, hurt or caught, this is an indication that you must stop disturbing the natural design of life and to flow with events in a more gentle and natural manner.”
I don’t at all doubt that I was guided to re-open and hang the butterfly picture last night, nor do I doubt that I ran into the women I met last night, or that December is the month of transition, that I looked it up because I was feeling highly sensitive, or that a part of my career is shifting to something better and more wonderful.
We are constantly guided and in constant relationship to ourselves, others, the earth. Are you listening to the messages you are being given?
Have you ever received a gift that really touched your heart? What was it? What it something someone bought you? Made you? Or was it something completely intangible that you cannot hold and can only experience?
“Santa Clause,” a couple of weeks before Christmas, gave me a gift that touched my heart and moved me in such a way that I still cry when I think about that gift. What was the gift?
It wasn’t a toy. It wasn’t clothes or jewelry. It wasn’t anything you can buy in a store, or make with your hands.
The day after sharing a cup of tea, a little movement, a lot of laughter, and some fantastic climbing, backpacking, and hiking stories with a friend, I realized something about myself. I have not been living. Well, not what I would consider living.
You see, in that brief time together, my friend mirrored back to me a part of myself that I had lost. Where did the adventurous, wild-hearted woman go, who spent nearly every weekend hiking in the mountains in NH? Where did that woman who packed up the back of her pickup truck, drove 2 weeks across country at the age of 20, to live in Alaska for over 3 years, backpacking in Denali National Park, working various odd jobs, living in a cabin with one room, a loft, and no running water, go? Where did the woman who later moved back east and spent a few days per week climbing at the local rock gym (my first love of movement), taking private lessons, and openly and authentically chatting with friends about life over a climbing or bouldering problem, go?
Where did she go? And what the heck has she been doing the past 9 years?
I realized that for the last 9 years, I have not lived. In that moment, I found the aspect of that adventurous, wild-hearted woman that I have been missing all this time.
Remember the clip from Hook, when the little boy “found” Peter? You don’t? Watch it. I’ll wait.
Where did she go? I pushed her aside, sacrificing that aspect of myself to raise my boys, to finish my degree so I could get a “real job,” (which I didn’t do), to continue my ongoing education in holistic movement and wellness, to open a studio, and the list goes on and on. Of course one can argue that with all that I’ve “done” I have indeed been living. At what cost? Have I really been living? Following my heart?
It’s been a long road home. The process of living an awakening life, vulnerably and authentically connecting with others and myself, being curious, inviting myself to explore the dust bunnies in the dark, hidden corners of my inner closet, and developing a movement practice largely brought me to this moment.
The aspect of “Santa Clause” within my friend gave the aspect of “the Grinch” within me a true gift of Christmas that allowed the aspect of “Peter Pan” within me to find himself.
Would you be willing to consider that you needn’t wait for the holidays to give and receive gifts? We have the ability to give and receive gifts each and every day.
Would you be willing to consider that you don’t need to give anything at all other than the gift of being your authentic self and living your life authentically? What if that is one of the greatest gifts we can give, not only to others, but to ourselves as well?
I’d show up to each and every class with this desire to connect. I wanted to experience what the teachers were talking about – that physical asana is a means to connect to ones higher Self. But, I never felt it. I’d push and push and push to feel this connection, or I’d fervently pray, but all I felt inside was an empty shell of nothingness. That’s right. NOTHING.
You want to talk about a void? Well, there it was and I was trying to fill it with these false notions of connecting to something greater than myself through yoga. I was trying to fill the void with the deep, dark shadow emotions I was feeling. And, I was trying to fill it with a community that largely doesn’t see you, doesn’t reach out to you unless you are there in class. You see, I realized that a part of me would feel like I would not exist if I didn’t do yoga. So, I filled that void by making sure I would exist by showing up all the time.
I injured myself. Granted, yes, it was a physical injury, but that has been nothing compared to the immense inner wounding that I did to myself during the “healthy” practice of yoga. I kept practicing for a while anyway. I kept showing up. I still tried to fill the broken vase of my inner world with pain or with the intention that “all you need to do is send that part of yourself love and compassion.”
Bull crap. Sometimes, oftentimes, we need to allow ourselves to feel the pain inside of us, and
express it. Sometimes we need to experience hating parts of our self so that we may in turn learn to accept our self, or accept the parts of our self which we cannot accept, so we may learn how to love ourselves. Sometimes, we need to step away from the picture and take a look at just how much of our practice is unconsciously filled with sugar coated shit and namaste’s that have become so overused that it now has the equivalent weight of “hello.”
There were so many times after this injury where I would try to continue practicing, but the pain I felt become too intense. Yes, there was a physical pain, but the emotional pain could no longer be held by the broken container within which I stuffed it, so it began to overflow. I stopped practicing yoga a few years ago and began my journey to healing myself. At first, all I wanted to do was yoga. If I wasn’t doing yoga, I wasn’t happy. If I was doing yoga, I wasn’t happy…isn’t that interesting. The last spontaneous class I took, a year ago, to test myself, revealed much.
I learned that the yoga asana I have experienced doesn’t support me, doesn’t support my body, doesn’t support who I AM. I learned that I could no longer listen to themes of a physical practice connecting us to Source. I stopped drinking the Kool-Aid, the alcohol of yoga, the cocaine of yoga. Parts of me experienced anger when asked when I would return to class. I don’t have an answer to that question. At this point in time, returning to a yoga asana practice or class would be akin to a recovering alcoholic having a drink, a recovering cocaine addict a hit.
Why share this with all of you? Perhaps my story will inspire you to look closely at your practice. Perhaps my story will plant the seed of awakening to the parts of yourself who may be in denial about the possibility of addiction through yoga. And, part of me is allowing myself to heal, to more fully accept myself, to more fully love myself, by sharing my story with you.
May I share something else with you? Each and every one of us is already infinitely connected. You don’t need to go out and buy fancy Lululemon pants. You don’t need to drop “namaste” like it’s the hottest thing since sliced bread. You don’t need to stop eating meat because you believe not eating it will increase your vibration and make you more enlightened. I invite you to be. Just be and allow yourself to experience your Self as you are. Here and now.
If none of this has a ring of truth to you, I would invite you to consider watching and experience this funny, not-so-funny, funny video “How to be Ultra-Spiritual” by friend and mentor JP Sears.
If you’re just joining us now, please take a moment and read Confessions from a Recovering Asana Junkie – Part 1.
I was one of “those” people. Yes, I wore Lululemon pants. Not because I felt they’d make me a better yogi or grant me enlightenment, but because they fit. And, they lasted several years before wearing out. Maybe I’m in denial about some expensive pair of pants making me feel more spiritual.
Anyway, I was one of those people whom you would see in yoga class at least three times per week. I’d practice at home anywhere from 1-3 hrs. per day. I’d take every single workshop that I could. Part of me would hang on and hope to be included in the “Insider’s Club” so I could be one of the “cool kids” who got to hang out with the crew and chat about…yoga. I wanted to fit in and an unconscious part of me would do anything that I had to in order to feel connected and like I belonged.
Very rarely did I leave class with one of those post yoga glows. If I did, it was usually a physiological response resulting from my having moved my body through space and time. Yoga became my means of brutalizing myself. It became my means of beating parts of myself up. It became my means of reaffirming over and over and over again the toxic shame that I would never be enough as I am.
If I couldn’t do a pose, I unconsciously believed there was something wrong with me. If my alignment wasn’t perfect, I unconsciously believed there was something wrong with me. If I didn’t leave with this blissed out look and happy as a clam, feeling so connected to Source that I was flying on the inside, then there was absolutely, positively something wrong with me. I believed I’d never measure up and that’s exactly what my ego wanted. (Little did I know that that’s what it wanted.).
But, yogis are supposed to be calm, and zen-like. They’re not supposed to feel these tornadic waves of emotion. Nope, not allowed. At least, I didn’t believe so. That fit in perfectly with the part of myself that had become very safe and comfortable not feeling and not expressing emotions. Feeling and showing emotions? Geesh. That’s scary business!
If you’re teacher says it’s ok to cry on your mat, is it really ok? Let’s face it, the reality of someone hysterically sobbing next to you, while you’re trying to rest in savasana, isn’t always the most welcome activity. So, what did I do? I stuffed those emotions down inside of me. I knew how I felt – that maybe I would explode. Heck, there were times when you could physically see it! My face, neck, and upper chest would be red as a beet, with a distinct line across my chest showing the energy blockage. I felt on fire.
To make matters worse, I fell into the dangerous trap of intellectualizing my emotions. “I feel like I can’t move forward in my life. I must be experiencing Ganesh energy. I need to find a way around the elephant standing in my path.” Or, “I feel like I’m being broken down and torn apart…Om Namah Shivaya, Om Namah Shivaya…”. Or, “Why can’t I feel boundless love within my heart? Hanuman, help me please.” What?! You want to talk messed up – that was me. I rationalized my emotions. What did that do?
It gave me an out so I could continue to numb myself from experiencing the experience of feeling the intense emotions that I had consciously and unconsciously spent the majority of my life burying. Yoga become a tool, a means, my drug, my drink, to numb myself from the reality of my life. Woah.
You walk into a room, most likely with hardwood floors, soft bright lighting, perhaps some buddhist or zen-like paintings on the wall. Maybe Nag Champa or some other incense is burning. Krishna Das, Wah, or Snatam Kaur may be on in the background. You take note of the myriad of mats laid out across the floor with people vying for “their spot.” You notice the class is largely filled with Lululemon-clad women and a few men. Perhaps they’re stretching themselves out in downward facing dog or chatting with each other about some mystical experience they had and how it relates to a theme from yesterday’s class, or a Hindu god/dess…
Class begins, perhaps with a meditation and centering, maybe with a chant, and almost definitely with three Oms. You are led through a sequence of poses that may or may not build up to a pinnacle pose, depending on which style of yoga you are practicing, or maybe you’re moving your body in a 100°F room to “detox” and become more limber. At the end, class is wrapped up with savasana, followed by the ever popular “namaste.” Maybe, just maybe you’re one of those folks who leaves class all blissed out with this incredible post-yoga glow on your face. After class, you and your yoga family head out to the nearest healthy eatery and continue sharing conversation that inevitably resolves around something having to do with yoga. After all, that’s all there is to life, isn’t there?
I have a confession to share with you. My name is Amanda and I am a recovering asana junkie. Yes, I was a yoga addict. What is an addiction? The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as the following:
“a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social, and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by the inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic disease, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission…”.
How does that invite you to feel? What are you experiencing in this moment? Are you uncomfortable? Perhaps you are thinking – how can something that is healthy be an addiction? Sure, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, like eating that extra piece of raw cacao and maybe not feeling so hot afterwards, but addicted to yoga? How is that possible?
May I ask you a question? If you’re a “yogi,” are you addicted to yoga, not addicted to yoga, or are you in denial about your addiction to yoga? Hmm…