The wise one observes the world
but trusts her inner vision.
She allows things to come and go.
Her heart is open as the sky.
– Lao Tsu
I can hold on too tightly, to many things.
Fear. Yup. I can even hold on to fear.
* * *
After a few fear-based eruptions, some heartache, a back injury and now a stomach virus (I think), my outsides are looking pretty bruised. Between joyous celebrations of my favorite baseball team’s victories (I am a huge Washington Nationals fan), it’s been a rough and tumble week of crying and crying out.
After all, the Buddha says that life consists of 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows!
Despite my outer messiness, my insides are feeling serene. The crying has helped melt some of the pain. And the crying out has brought relief in the form of immediate strength, support and tools for navigating tough times. I am so grateful to have a team of people and resources who have my back – and know how to strengthen it when I am caving in.
* * *
Often our ideas toward others/ideas/situations may not be very clear. Thus reacting harshly could land us in situations we do not want to be in. In such circumstances, any opportunity to have second thought is worth considering.
– TKV Desikachar, Heart of Yoga
In the beginning of the week, some things happened that triggered a downward spiral of fear regarding finances, friendships and security in general. I lashed out toward others, including loved ones and fellow yogis. Thankfully I recognized the pattern and started making amends.
Still, the bottom of that barrel was NOT a good place to be. So the first resources I tapped into were: practicing Pratipaksha Bhavana; repeating 108 Asato Ma chants; and asking Shiva to guide me through, then relieve me, of this darkness. Thankfully on Tuesday a Google search revealed a powerful essay on the benefits of replacing destructive thoughts with yogic intentions, aka, Pratipaksha Bhavana. I’d never seen the “Yoga With Amey” blog before, but I am so glad I found it. (Check out the essay here: http://www.yogawithamey.com/pratipaksabhavanam.html)
The Asato Ma chant says: “Lead me from unreal to real; lead me from darkness to light; lead me from things that die off, to that which is everlasting.” When I repeated these phrases, I started to feel a shift from dwelling in doubt to thriving in truth, acceptance and love. Then, like the Jai Uttal song says, I got “down on my knees, crying for freedom, begging for freedom. Om Namah Shivaya.” The Hindu deity Shiva governs the cycle of birth, life, transformation and death. So I was praying for freedom from my traumatic past’s destructive hold on my present. The past will never completely be erased; but I would like to be liberated from the irrational fears and related overreactions that arise when I get triggered. I recognized that this was another instance of my agitated brain turning a trigger turning into reality, when in reality, a trigger is just a passing detached moment.
Taking these actions mid-week – shifting my thinking, chanting and praying – brought so much clarity and balance. Although the week would continue to bring difficulties (one of my friends is not accepting my amend, and I am so sad; then, I hurt my back while moving furniture, and I am in serious physical pain), I continued to rely on the symbolism of the Asato Ma and of Shiva to have faith despite challenges.
Yesterday, in the midst of a paralyzing sadness about potentially losing my precious friend as a result of acting out, I reached out to my Facebook community asking, “How do you not hide from life when feeling great emotional pain?” My M.O. at such times is to disappear into an abyss of negative thinking, doubt and shame. I feel really grateful to have such a caring, understanding and experienced friends, whose wisdom has been helping immensely.
Among other things, they answered:
– Reach out.
– Random acts of kindness.
– We pursue and embrace life with all of our heart, body and mind.
– Crank up some tunes and clean! I find it kind of meditative that way. Plus, I do not like being around others when I feel like crap. Plus, it always cheers me to see my material environment brightened at the end.
– hide if you need to hide, cry uncontrollably until the tears run dry, lean on friends, post on facebook, listen to and play music, wait, sleep, be depressed, be suicidal, let these thoughts and emotions pass like clouds in the night sky, sooner or later, this too shall pass, walk on the wild side, you already know what to do.
– I find chanting a mantra helps – calms the monkey mind and really does a healing number on all areas of the body-mind-spirit.
– You know what to do already, but you may be too busy, too agitated, too stressed to hear it. Stop. Wait. Wait. Wait. Mountain pose. Sukhasana. The answer is waiting.
– For me being quiet with god for 30 mins.
By the time I went to bed last night, I felt a lot more peaceful.
* * *
Finally, today, I was reminded to relax my clinging fingers. Release the grip. Surrender.
At about 6am, I woke up with some kind of stomach bug and have been feeling completely wiped out. I had to text and e-mail and post that my morning yoga classes would be subbed. While on Facebook, I came across a post that truly awakened me. Wisdom from Swami Satchidananda. This week I experienced aches and pains of all kinds! Everything at once. So I’ve had to reflect on accepting the things I cannot change, and changing the things I can. I don’t believe in an interventionist, capital “G” god, but I do believe that surrendering my attempts to control this life can bring great healing. Because it has in the past.
You cannot do everything by yourself. If you believe in God, if you trust God wholeheartedly, even your sickness will go away because you are putting yourself into the hands of a more powerful doctor. Difficult situations come to give us a chance to prove that we trust in a higher energy. Otherwise, how can you ever prove yourself? When everything goes smoothly you are all good devotees, no doubt. But you really prove it when everything is shaking and still you are able to say, “It doesn’t matter. Even if I lose everything, I am not going to lose this faith.” Once you prove that, then everything that was lost will come back to you.
– Swami Satchidananda
So I am letting go. Again. I am letting go.
* * *
When this much is happening, what relaxes me most is sensing that a great change is coming…and I’m not talking about the obvious change in seasons or change in my situation or changes around me. If I am open and willing and proactive, there will be great change within me. When I surrender, I trust that the right things will happen around me. And even though I am nursing my heartache and back ache and belly ache this weekend, I feel simultaneously horrible and hopeful! In my opinion, that’s a great place to be.
OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Peace.