It’s a beautiful day out here in Vancouver, BC. I woke up by a breath of sunshine that cast over my bed and in an instant, before being given the opportunity to open my eyes, the throbbing in the pit of my stomach began. Inhale, exhale. I’ve been practicing this and it seems to be working.
Making my cup of tea, I felt the soreness of my body lingering from the night before. In the previous post I had written, I talked about my happiness but I can ensure you that I do not live in a constant state of bliss, nor do I think that that’s possible. Instead, I live in a state of practicing breath to level my nerves and it has been one of the greatest gifts I have been given.
I went over to my couch to sit for my daily meditation routine and I just didn’t want to do it. The war of my mind began:
Should I do it?
It’s fine to just skip a day!
No, this will make you feel better.
But I don’t want to do anything.
I’m sure we all have something like this we deal with on most days and I have not been some lucky winner of the draw who was able to opt out of this very basic human dilemma. So I did it, though I admit it was harder to sit still with my mind than it is on other days.
I felt better, but the anxiety was still there. Pulling out my yoga mat, I began my yin practice, again with great hesitation. If you know anything about yin yoga, it is very much like being in a meditative state. You hold postures for a a certain length of time and it is a great way to release tension, both physical and emotional. We tend to store emotions in our bodies and the practice of yin is the greatest and most effective methods I’ve found in releasing them.
“We all have issues in our tissues, which is to say, we store emotions in our bodies – where else could they possible be? Emotions are not stored out there in some cloud server on the Internet: they are not on a Google computer in hyperspace. They are within you, close at hand and ready at a moment’s notice to manifest. The dance of yoga is one of playing our edges: we approach the point of being too deep, never actually arriving at this point, and then we back off to see if we can approach that edge again, safely. This is the art: never actually going too deep but moving constantly towards that edge where the sensations are juicy, there is definitely something happening, but it is not too much sensation and we are never in danger of ripping the body open.”
So I should say that my life is not suddenly rid of depression or anxiety. My mind still wanders. My thoughts can still be a burden. I can fall to my knees in tears and not understand why. I can be reactive and triggered easily. I remain a sensitive soul and though I have made great efforts to be everything but that, I have accepted and even come to love myself for it. But what I can also say is that I am filled with tools of how to respond to those parts of my being. Having gone to therapy for years, I’ve gained a much deeper understanding of what works for me. Tools that I’ve been putting to practice more and more, especially during this time. And what I have found to be true again and again is that when my mind feels out of control, I can use my body to gain my balance back.
What I love most about these mindful acts is that they are called “practices,” meaning that there is no point of perfection to them. We are just exploring and there is no end to an exploration of yourself. There is no ego attached or instant gratification. It’s a slow and steady process. It’s a focus on breath. And the only thing it asks of you is to do the best that you can today, whatever that may look like. And that doesn’t have to mean that you are better than yesterday. Like all progress, it is never linear.
To end in the words of Pema Chödrön:
“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know …nothing ever really attacks us except our own confusion. Perhaps there is no solid obstacle except our own need to protect ourselves from being touched. Maybe the only enemy is that we don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. But what we find as practitioners is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. If we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. It just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations, until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.”