Tag Archives for " Wisdom "

Stepping out of the Shadows

I need a good cry. I feel the tears pooling up behind my eyes and I wonder why they just won’t come out already. Maybe it’s because despite the sadness that I’ve been feeling lately, my life is really great. It’s amazing in ways that I didn’t know possible in the sense that for the first time ever I value myself for the treasure that I finally, finally know myself to be. I’ve stopped taking everything so personally and am in a state of mostly acceptance about what the Universe is laying out for me. When I’m in tune, I am guided in a way that feels rare and precious to me. I’ve been on this path of discovery that has taken me around some mighty strange twists and bends over the past year and especially the last few months, and because of the fact that I’ve been laser focused on how every little bit of it impacts me and shows me what needs to be healed, I’ve been both amazingly self-assured and deeply sad. It’s time for me to not just let go of a relationship that means a lot to me, but to let go of a myriad of false beliefs and programs that have been running in my background for oh, thirty years or so. Even though these patterns and behaviors have been harmful to me, they still feel comfortable, sort of like a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I know I can’t touch the stuff anymore, and I really don’t want to, but sometimes I look at it with a longing that transcends my understanding. I suppose it’s because when I was younger, all of these behaviors and beliefs cropped up as a mechanism for me to feel safe in the world. Lowering a veil over your eyes can be a comfortable place to be and I thrived in an environment that allowed me to only pull in the bits and pieces that I wanted to acknowledge.

Over the last five years I’ve been lifting that veil slowly but steadily. At times it’s been almost imperceptible, but recently I feel like it’s getting yanked off my face. I’m seeing why I’ve been so comfortable in the shadows for so long, how I’ve never felt that my light was strong enough or important enough to be the brightest in anyone’s life, most of all my own. I’m seeing how I allowed myself to be dwarfed by others and by life and by myself just so that I could stay in a place that seemed to be less vulnerable. I understand how I believed that stepping into the forefront of my life threatened my very foundation.

Despite making huge strides in this arena, I recently considered sliding into the shadows again in a relationship. It wasn’t even expected of me, I just felt myself desirous of slipping into that space of delicious darkness and secrecy. It’s easy to manage something if you don’t have to be held accountable to it. If I can keep my emotions safely tucked away, I don’t have to worry so much about what I may lose. Retreating into the penumbra also allows me to create my own set of boundaries, something that can be very enticing to someone that has trouble establishing and maintaining them. Getting through the boundary creating phase of my life (2012) was challenging in ways that were terrifying, though ultimately gratifying. Now that they have been identified, I’m beginning to understand that not everyone or everything belongs in my life in ways that I before believed possible or necessary.

I’ve done a lot of growth and so I was surprised when this popped up again. I packaged it really nicely too, I’m sure in the hopes that I could deceive myself. There were many wonderful things about the relationship, and I learned more about myself in this short dance than I have in a while. The reason for this is that I went into it with my eyes wide open, and despite the fact that I considered sliding into an unhealthy safety zone, I was in such a state of awareness that I was able to literally smell the fear that had provoked it. With that, I had the opportunity to hold my own hand and walk myself through the process. I called on a few trusted others as well, but the main thing was that I refused to close my eyes no matter how painful it got or what came up. I may not have handled everything perfectly, but I do feel like every step along the path – even the so-called mistakes – were actually mirrors allowing me to see what I needed to tend to.

I’m ready to let go. In all honesty, there is a big part of me that doesn’t want to do so. The petulant child in me wants to twist and manipulate things to be the way that I want them to be, but the adult in me knows that is not the answer. I tried to do that for a good thirty years with no success. I’ve learned that letting go really is letting God. I have to make space in my life for the something better that always comes along whenever you release that which doesn’t support your highest good. I know this to be true because as I’ve let go of the relationships and situations in my life that didn’t enhance my growth (even when it wasn’t my own idea), I’ve been able to let in many amazing people and opportunities. I have co-created more wonderful and fulfilling friendships in the past year than I had in the preceding 10 and my support system is so strong that I never have to look for a shoulder to cry on.

So here’s my true confession: Sometimes this healing stuff really sucks. Sometimes it is so hard and the not-numbed pain is so intense that I want to throw myself down on the ground and pound my fists and scream. Sometimes I do scream. The unbelievable part is that with each passing day it gets easier and easier. The pain passes more quickly and I no longer blame myself or anyone else. I don’t take it all so personally anymore and along with the pain comes the joy of feeling a wee bit more miraculous and alive every day. My senses are honed and there is a remarkable amount of clarity in my life. My life is so full of love and beautiful people and blessings that I have to keep expanding just to accommodate it all.  In the end, it’s all worth it, every last bit of it.

banksy-red-balloon

The Pose of Wisdom

I often used to wonder how I got into this body. It seemed so separate from me. Sometimes, I would float above it and other times, I would hover around it. It truly was a shadow of me and to me for most of my life. When I was young, I was an athlete. I defined myself that way. What do you do? I am a gymnast and a soccer/volley/baseball player. I am competitive, and I like to win. My body was this thing that propelled me forward and offered me some rewards if I worked hard enough, and it was always a question of whether or not I was enough. In my environment, I was completely judged by what my body could do, and when something didn’t come out the way I needed it to, I resented it. Injuries were inconveniences, and it was nothing to play a soccer game on an ankle that I’d twisted in gymnastics. I was not about to admit, ever, that I was weak. And the irony is that throughout all of this feeling defined by my body, I never actually felt like I was my body. I was never grounded in myself; I never knew myself.

This little war that I played with my body erupted for the worse as a high school student. I began to smoke, drink, take drugs and have sex, not knowing anything about how any of it would affect me, yet drawn to the effect it all had of turning everything off.  I abused my body because I was mad at it, and I gave up dreaming because it was easier to give it up than to come to peace with who I was. I distanced myself from myself, and that was just fine with me.

In my early 30’s, I began to practice yoga.  I enjoyed it because it came pretty easily to me. There was a lot of pleasure in looking around me and seeing that despite the fact that 15 years had passed since I had done my last backbend, I could still do it better than just about anyone there. Yoga was cool, because I could do it well, even though I was completely missing the point.  Despite the fact that I had some amazing teachers, all of that enlightened discourse about not comparing ourselves to others and honoring our bodies was lost on me. Child’s Pose was a sign of weakness; my injuries, which I largely ignored, were frailties that I had difficulty acknowledging. When I did address them, it was because they offered me an excuse as to why I couldn’t do something anymore. When the backbend became too painful to power through, my wrist became my scapegoat.  With all of this going on, I couldn’t stay in the game. Because I still wasn’t in touch with my body, or with me, for that matter, I didn’t stick with it. I’d let it go, and then get back to it for a minute, only to let it go again. It was lovely, but it didn’t fulfill me, because I wasn’t able to fulfill myself.

I finally returned, happily, gratefully and with a different mindset, about nine months ago. While I still wasn’t honoring my body 100%, I was open to the idea of doing so, and at that moment, that was sufficient. One day in class, I listened as my teacher told us that we could move into Child’s Pose whenever we needed. Of course, I didn’t need to. And I wouldn’t have, except that she went on to talk about how Child’s Pose is also called the Pose of Wisdom. Oh, damn! She had me now. This one comment touched a chord deep inside of me that was ready to be struck. I realized that I had been taking it all way too seriously; that I had been taking myself way too seriously. Jesus, Janet! Let it go already!

I am a total proponent of Child’s Pose these days. I love it. And I see the wisdom of the child that teaches us to honor our bodies, to respect them intuitively and to have fun with them. It’s still a struggle some days; I may never be able to completely give up wanting to be the best and to be acknowledged for that, but what I do know is that my body is this amazing vehicle for my spirit in this time that I have here and I am grateful to it for that. I also realize that my spirit is love and joy and laughter, and if my body is a vessel for that, then I ought to have some fun with it. (Oh, the wonderful, not child-like implications of that statement!)

A few weeks ago, I attempted full Mermaid Pose for the first time. On the first side, I totally got it; I mean, I nailed it, which is exactly how I smugly thought of it. I went on to the other side cocky and full of myself, only to fall out of it, over and over. The joy of this was that this repeated falling out of it cracked me up. I laughed at myself for falling, I laughed at myself for my arrogance, and I laughed at myself because it felt good to have a laugh at my own expense. After class, my beautiful teacher came up to me and hugged me, and said, “You have no idea how great it was to see you laugh like that when you fell.” Actually, though, I do; I really, really do.