Beyond Muddy Ditches

Yoga is a healing practice.  I probably won't stop saying this.

Should you find a safe and comfortable environment and a teacher you trust, there is good work that can be done.  Through breath work, presence, and mindful intention, you can really "move stuff around", as one of my teachers commonly puts it.    What tends to happen for me is that sometimes, when I venture into the mucky depths with an open-heart and a curious nature, I don't just move stuff around, I invite the passing through.

It bubbles up, floods out, and leaves me with a greater sense of lightness, clarity, and faith that I am  doing healing work.  I am also left with a greater sense of commitment to guiding others, to healing others in part, by sharing my own experiences

Speaking of my own experiences, I gave birth on my mat the other day.  Oh look, a 9lb 8oz very old story!  (Breathtaking!)  Odd for a newborn, this story has teeth.  It's got grit.  This story has, for as long as I can remember, influenced the way I have seen the relationships that I've been a part of.  "Everybody That I Care About Ends UP Leaving" would be the tag line.

Pops was gone before I could walk.  Mom was gone before I went into high school.  I've got friends around the state, and friends around the country, all of whom in the course of living their lives, left.  From one experience to the next, I eventually found myself asking: "what is it about me that everyone ends up leaving"?

This is the slimmed down version of the story, because the story itself isn't important.  What is important is that we recognize the power and influence that story has had on our worldview,  stories that are untrue and possibly traumatic.   What is important is that we realize our own role in and power to move beyond.  It is important is that we begin to see the process of letting go in more real, tangible ways, and recognize the personal realization that accompany the letting go of story.  This is the essence of healing.

The story has power and influence, or at least, that's how it seems to be.  If we are willing, there are likely two things that we come to realize about our stories that start to ease the grip.  First comes the realization that whatever happened or didn't happen has very little to do with right now.  We can find counterpoints arguments, and exceptions, but for most of us, this is true.  Didn't go to prom?  Doesn't matter.  He/she broke up with you abruptly, over nothing?  Doesn't matter.  Didn't get a pony for your 8th birthday?  What does that have to do with right now?    The second realization then, is that: it was never about what happened or didn't happen, it was always about thoughts, judgments, and/or beliefs that came as a result.

In the example of my story, I noticed how my belief in it automatically put the ego at the helm.  Even a subtle belief in the story has left me emotionally on guard, closed off, and protective.   I can realize with the calm, rational mind that friends and family must live their lives too.  I can say it's not about me when life takes them to another place, but if the ego mind is steering this ship, it's "not about me" feels more like protection mode,  trying to comfort and guard against what it perceives as heartache.

But what does the heart say?  This question arises when we start to move beyond thought. We may realize existing patterns of  spinning wheels in muddy ditches.  We start to feel something unfamiliar and probably uncomfortable, call it heartache, and return back to the headspace right away, without full exploration.  I believe that overall, we are so trained and committed to avoiding feeling anything that isn't immediately identifiable as pleasure.  Out of habit it seems, we welcome joy and bliss, while at the same time fearing and guarding against pain- or anything remotely negative or unfamiliar.  This is what I mean by protection mode.

We can and often do live in that space for a long time.  Wanting pleasure, while fearing and avoiding heartache.    We accept this as the normal way of life without questioning it.  That is, until we question it.  Better yet we question our past inability to move beyond it.  Who ever said that healing feels good in the moment?

It is, of course, possible to move beyond, and this looks different for everyone.  For me, it starts with paying attention.  Inwardly, watching what's going on and then questioning what doesn't fit.

I commit to grounding, heart-opening practices that allow for space to notice what doesn't fit.  I use the mind to question.  It's as though the heart shines a spotlight on the glitch, and then turns the mind in that direction to analyze what's what.  In this case, the mind doesn't seek truth or untruth. The heart already pointed out the story as untrue.  The mind seeks evidence.  It seeks for enough evidence to know that there's no need to waste time and energy in protection mode.  There's no longer a reason to go there.

Once evidence is gathered, and the Road Closed sign is erected, it's like empty space on a grid.  New paths are constructed and that old one no longer affects traffic.  It is no longer necessary.  This is letting go.  This is healing, and it is not pretty.  For me, it's never pretty, but the afterwards is kind of beautiful.

Afterwards, I experience a bit more peace.  I feel a certain lightness to my demeanor.  There's room for a new perspective, one where I'm looking at past with detatchment, future without burdensome expectations, and experiencing now with more clarity, connection, and the experience of lightness.

When my dear friend and teacher told me of plans to move to Cleveland, I think it was like the last straw.  It was what needed to happen for me to finally let go of this particular story.  I birthed this story on my mat.  It wasn't pretty, not even close.  But the afterwards is beautiful.  In the lightness of the afterwards, I'm lovingly  offering up my experience with hopes that something resonates.

And then, of course, there was Rumi in the most opportune moment, putting an exclamation point on the realization I was coming into:

Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.

I felt that in my core.  And all I could think regarding the connections I'm fortunate enough to have all over the world is that It takes a big heart to be connected and spread all around like that.