I promise I will share with you with more “Secrets Untold”. Part II is typed and ready to go. But sometimes the writer in me just has to share what’s on my heart. I had an emotionally chaotic week. Seems like I would find some peace then another wave of emotion would hit. Then, another wave. The “Emerging Yogi” within me had to really come out. I had to practice what I preach. Like, really practice. It was like “Emerging Yogi” boot camp–for real. The goal of this post and this blog is to reach out and share my journey in hopes that someone…even just one person can feel connected and encouraged. That being said, here’s what got me through this week…
Breathing: The yoga practice focuses a lot on the present time. It teaches us to be conscious and aware of who we are in the moment and the things going on around us in that moment. The breath work makes us come out of our chaotic environments (usually occurring in our busy brains) and places us back into our body where we reconnect with ourselves. Sometimes we have to be uncomfortable in that way. As someone who has diagnosed and hypersensitive anxiety, the breathing is essential for me. When I say I have tried everything for anxiety…think everything that a Dr. can prescribe for anxiety and I have been there. Nothing works like the breath though. I notice that when anxiety creeps in and steals me away, I’m only breathing into my chest–short and shallow breaths. Deepening my breath down into my belly and back isn’t happening in a highly anxious environment. If I can just focus on getting my breath to expand 360 degrees, I’m telling you guys…it works. I have practiced this with my own kids (who think I’m weird and annoying for making them doing it). As soon as they get about three breaths in, their aura changes almost instantly. I’m not talking about a magically perfect recipe, just a little breathing goes a long way. Just try it even if you think it’s dumb. See if it helps.
Finding my emotions: Life causes us to experience lessons that may or may not be pleasant. Our human experience wouldn’t be human if it were otherwise. I used to label emotions as “good” or “bad”. If I had an emotional day where I was like a dog with a bone and couldn’t let something go or if I felt a turmoil of emotions then that was “bad”. But, let’s consider how our lives would be if we only felt pleasant emotions…we would experience an abundance of beautiful peace, joy and happiness but we would never truly be fulfilled if life didn’t teach us anything. And, we typically learn those lessons through struggle or sacrifice or from stepping out of our comfort zones. Emotions teach us who we are. There is no such thing as a negative emotion. Emotions are just that…emotions. They express to us how our body is feeling.
The yoga practice, for me, is imperative to listening to my emotions. There have been so many times where I couldn’t even connect to emotion because I was so numb in mind and in body. The numbness was brought on by trauma that I then tried to mask with other things (mentioned in my Secrets Untold post)…couldn’t feel a thing. The numbness was even to the point of having the desire to cry but I just couldn’t produce a tear. Or wanting to scream but I couldn’t open my mouth. None of this felt human because it wasn’t. We are meant to feel! Numbness is existing and not living. We are meant to be alive or we wouldn’t be here!
Yoga teaches me to tap in…listen to my body, listen to what it’s telling me. Allow it to guide me into what I am feeling. What emotion can I attach that to? Are my ears burning and I’m mad? Is there a heaviness in my chest from anxiety? Is there a lump in my throat because I’m sad or need to say something? Sometimes, I even use the emotion wheel which may seem elementary but it helps. From there, I ask myself “what thoughts are making me feel this way?” I ask myself without judgement (sometimes that is a struggle but practice makes perfect). We can’t judge our bodies for making us feel a certain way, that’s just in our nature. I have learned that my thoughts are not good or bad and labeling them as such just perpetuates negative judgement which usually increases uncomfortable emotion. The things I am thinking may not be “rational” or they may be running wild into a frenzy but that doesn’t mean that they are bad.
Yoga has taught me to breathe into those feelings, listen to those thoughts and then sort out the truths from the lies in a present moment. Is our mind telling us things that are not relevant to the present moment? Sometimes we are living so far back in the past or projecting something far away in the future. A lot of times, these are the thoughts that cause us the greatest anxiety. But then, if I am breathing and practicing I can really ask myself if what I am grappling with at that moment–in that day is really something that I need to be a worried about. Does it need to truly cause me pressure or anxiety? Often not.
Gratitude: Alright, I feel the eye-rolling. I get it. There is nothing more aggravating than hearing someone say “be grateful for what you have”. DUH. In a moment of extreme agitation nobody wants to hear that. Just because we are going through emotions doesn’t mean we aren’t grateful. But, I have found that writing a list of things I am really grateful for in the mornings or when it is quiet–before anything gets my brain going can just be a point of reference for later. I like to get specific in my gratitude “list” because saying…I am grateful for my kids, partner, house, dog, job, car…etc., that just doesn’t do it for me.
I have to get specific, probably because I have a really hard head and rebellious soul. I say things or write things to myself like, “I am grateful that when I take my walk in the evenings I can see creativity and inspiration in other people’s yards.” Or, “I am grateful that my daughter waits for me to give her a hug and kiss before bed every night because I am a loving and attentive mom”. It may take a little extra thought to get this type of list going but I’m not going to lie, it’s a tool I rely on now. Don’t create the list in a time of frenzy, create it in a time where you are feeling grounded and peaceful, really tap into “what makes me feel good?” “what inspires me?” “what keeps me on a path to happiness?”
I’m not narrow-minded enough to think that I’m the only one who takes a ticket for the emotional roller coaster; so, I hope these few tips can help you as much as they helped me this week. Am I still a little shell-shocked from the week? YEP. Am I perfectly settled in my emotions? NOPE. But I am practicing to feel the peace, happiness and joy in every moment, in every wave of emotion…despite. Like the flower that grows through the cement cracks or the bird who sings in the rain…we have the bravery and strength in us to be like that. Tis’ true, friends.
Quick breathing sequence I use to ground myself and connect with breath: