For me, I give yourself back to you
So that you may decide what to do with you.
Your actions and words, beliefs and absurds,
I give them all back.
I don’t carry you.
I no longer need the same lessons
So I no longer need the same pain.
I’ve learned through the years
I’ve good eyes and good ears,
And a heart I can trust, not blame.
Thank you for teaching me all I had wrong.
I’m grateful you triggered and wounded me.
I now feel the peace
I had all along.
Your transgressions asked me to be more of me.
I’ll decide from now on what my truth is,
Never reaching outside for that task.
I’ll decide what goes out,
And I’ll choose what comes in.
Never again will I ask.
Your words and ideas
Are now back in your brain.
You can keep them
or change them.
To me it’s the same.
My body is healed
And my heart has let go.
I’ve got life to love
And gardens to grow.
There once was a girl
Who was coming of age.
She longed to be free
But was trapped in a cage.
The cage became mental;
It’s all that she knew.
And parts that knew better
Weren’t nurtured by you.
But everything changes
And lies never last.
A heart that loves love
Has limits to fast.
And blocks that are made
From the heart to the brain
Can always be given
Right back where they came.
What is all this that you think you have? You don’t.
Clinging to ideas about things and people is just like clinging to ideas. It’s noise in your head that your perceptions have been shouting at you.
Just stop. Just be here. Mould deeply into your environment and allow it to influence you but don’t become part of it. Let your heart hang free between the two worlds; holding hands between your inner free awareness and your lens to the world. Even simple awareness of your heart area as you inhale brings compassion, and as you exhale brings you freedom from attachment.
Memories snagging me.
I just want out.
How do you free yourself from the past
When the tears keep falling?
How do you let go
Of what’s holding you?
Every day the grip loosens;
Tears quieter, softer.
I feel myself unfold.
Something isn’t right though.
My heart needs to speak
and be heard.
And then i can sleep
Without you in my dreams.
My heart declawed.
Sparkling at me
Asking me a question
Whether or not I want to know more
Or is that the question?
There are two questions.
Do I want to?
Am I willing to?
Curiosity killed the cat.
But the cat isn’t here anymore to tell us if it was worth it.
She found her answer.
Would she rather pace around not knowing?
I’d like to paw at something that won’t kill me.
Every day is like a dream.
The trees rustle; the sun shines on my skin.
I pinch myself.
How can I be this happy?
It’s almost uncomfortable. I have to grow my container big enough to hold all this energy, this vibrancy, this love.
I want others to see the world as I do, but how can I share such a perception?
I know people come from dark places, where the sun doesn’t shine.
I have a dream; I hold each soul tightly, feeling her heart beat.
Until we synchronize, until we understand one another.
Once in step, I let go of the embrace, and grab his shoulders firmly.
Our eyes meet for a moment, a few breaths
Before I turn her around
Still holding his shoulders
So she can face the sun
And feel the warmth on his skin
Soaking into her entire being.
Out of his nightmare
And into my dream.
We are together now.
Time moves slow with sadness
And after broken dreams
Nothing is the same.
Why should time be?
It stretches like taffy
Intent on teaching us lessons.
Every detail of what we missed
And what we will do different the next time.
Intentional punishment, it seems…
When all the other days move so quickly.
Suddenly, there is only time for important things-
Sadness reminds us of what matters.
Recently, a client of mine asked for guidance in her personal yoga practice. We’ll call her Brenda. Brenda was going through an emotionally-draining transition period and wanted help “escaping” from her mind and problems. She asked if I could write her a physically challenging and vigorous routine that she could practice at home in order to help get her mind off her current life situation. Her common predicament inspired me to write this piece, as many of us look towards yoga for help through difficult times. Like most human beings faced with emotional pain, Brenda’s first reaction was to try and find a way to avoid it. Unfortunately, although this method may be helpful in the short-term, it isn’t an effective long-term solution.
Really challenging or fast moving flow practices are great for letting you “get your mind off” the rest of your world or your problems, and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing; short-term relief is sometimes what we need or all we can handle at the moment, especially in a public class where we may not feel safe exploring or acknowledging the reality of our emotions. Getting fully into our bodies has a calming effect; it tends to slow mental activity and allow us to concentrate on something other than our problems, even if just for the hour. Feeling our physical form heating up and burning with transformational discomfort can be a welcome experience when it serves as a distraction to discomfort we may be struggling with mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.
The problem with the distraction method is, we can only run from and ignore reality for so long; eventually we have to acknowledge and work through our problems in order for them to get better. “Escaping” only delays the process of confronting the pain so that we can heal and come out on the other side. At some point, changing our situation for the future requires that we are open and willing to accept and explore reality as it is in the present. When you are struggling with emotional pain or life transitions, take a look deep inside your heart. Decide if you are ready to face your inner emotional issues head on right now. If not, intentionally choose to give yourself more time and, by all means, keep practicing with flow, moving with and enjoying the breath. Be aware that you are doing this to temporarily soothe the pain, and this is okay for now. Maintaining honesty with yourself is important; it is up to you to balance challenge with compassion, rather than avoiding the challenge of change completely.
At some point repressing the pain will get tiresome. The cost will outweigh the benefits. When you feel brave and ready, it is time to begin holding poses for a very long time in your personal practice. Surrendering to a posture helps us to acknowledge our current reality so that we can deal with it. Holding asanas for a few minutes can help us make peace with “what is”; the focus of the practice becomes a meditation on our inner “aliveness” and helps us to accept reality and have a sense of calm about where we are right now (on the mat and in life), even if it is uncomfortable, foreign, or scary. When we fully embrace and understand the present we can deal with it effectively, and take actions towards creating the life we want.
I recommend the following postures for helping you work through transitional periods and emotionally-challenging times. Hold them for 2-5 minutes each. While you are in them, focus on the sensations and experiences that come up in the body and the mind. These may be physical, energetic, emotional, or mental “mind chatter”. All of these experiences are important and need to be acknowledged and processed. They are begging for attention for a reason.
Centering/Meditation: Begin seated comfortably and sit up straight. Close the eyes. Notice what you can hear, smell, taste, and feel in contact with your skin. Become keenly aware of all 5 senses. Then notice where you are emotionally. Notice what you are thinking. Notice what you can feel or sense inside your body. If you are noticing “what is”, you are meditating. Meditation is not about clearing the mind or relaxing; it is about observing one’s experience.
A Heart opener such as Camel, Cobra or Up-dog: These are excellent for relationship issues and feelings of loneliness, separation, resentment, and distrust. Heart openers help cultivate open-heartedness, gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, trust, and unconditional love (not only with others but also with ourselves!). I recommend warming up the spine with cat/cow or baby cobra before moving into the more intense camel, full cobra, or up-dog. This will prevent injury to the low back.
Pigeon, Cow’s head, or any intense hip opener: These open up the gates to our authentic emotions so we can acknowledge them, process them, and release things we don’t need anymore. Hip openers are excellent for letting go of things that are holding us back.
Balancing Half Moon (regular or revolved): This pose helps us to find the calm within the chaos. It reminds us to find our center, stay balanced, and focus on what is important in the midst of any circumstance. We also learn that falling isn’t nearly as scary as our fear of falling, and that we can always get back up. Our attitude about falling is much more important than whether or not we fall.
Headstand: This asana is good for life transitions and accepting change, as the posture offers a new perspective on the world. Being up-side-down helps us look at things in a new way, observe rather than judge, and get outside of our comfort zone. Practice with a wall behind you for safety. This is a good one to end with right before Savasana, as it sends a lot of blood to the head.
Savasana: The classic ending posture to any yoga routine, this active resting pose helps us to consolidate what we have learned in our practice and integrate it into our bodies and minds. We reflect on and notice any change we created or wisdom he came in touch with. We experience the miracle of being fully alive and human by simply being with ourselves and letting the ground support us. We decide what to take with us off our mat and into the rest of our life.
Yoga reminds us that the relationship we have with ourselves is the most important. This is the foundation for healthy and happy relationships with others and the universe. Meet yourself where you are and use modifications when your body asks for them. Practice self-compassion and use child’s pose in between postures as needed. I hope these pointers are helpful. If you don’t know how to do the poses, I recommend taking a few private classes or finding a “beginners series” to join. As always, you are welcome to come explore yourself in the safety and support of my private yoga therapy sessions.
Change is rarely easily, most things worth doing are challenging, and personal growth requires an attitude of openness and acceptance as we trek into the unknown. Yoga provides an opportunity to explore these realities of life from the security of our mats. Be open, be brave, and most importantly, remember to breathe.