Archives for posts with tag: anxiety

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I know it sounds funny, but shavasana is an acquired taste. It develops over time and takes a great deal of practice to reap the rewards.

How can laying on your back with your eyes closed be hard work you say? Especially after a challenging yoga practice. But being still and quiet and not sleeping brings up a great many things for most people.

I have seen from time to time, people who will roll up their mats as the rest of us are getting ready to lay down at the end of class. True, sometimes people need to leave early and tip toe out. But still others seen no reason for staying, when the “workout” is over. “You are doing anything anymore, so just leave. It is a waste of time.”

I have seen those who fidget and fuss, eyes open, sighing loudly., and when it is time to begin to “bring awareness to your fingers and toes”, they have sprung up to a sitting position and are ready to bolt for the door.

For some people, if they are asked to just be still with themselves, that is the most terrifying thing they can imagine. That would mean you have to actually be present with yourself and see what sorts of things might float to the surface. Thoughts that are easily kept at bay with being “busy”. You cannot hit a moving target, so as long as we remain in constant motion we won’t have to look at ourselves and see what is there. Quiet is the enemy. Sitting with yourself for too long will be your undoing…

My own personal experience was not that, but something else. I would finish a class, covered in sweat and suddenly not have the actual practice to focus on anymore. So my mind would spiral back to the outside world and all of the people, situations and things that made me insane and stressed out of my mind. On occasion I would drop into shavasana, that utterly relaxing in between space, not awake, not asleep, and I would begin to feel so blissed out. But then, I would pull myself away from it and think “you are wasting your time here pretending that there is bliss to be experienced.  You are wasting precious time that you could be spending being pissed off and furious at how not o.k. Everything is! You almost fell for it. Just say “no” to shavasana.

So I began to lay there, sharply awake and use that time to mull over and retrace the laundry list of how I was being done wrong by the world and the stupid people in it. I began to look forward to this heightend time at the end of class to more finely hone my powers of discontent  and plot the demise of my enemies. Amazing…

Slowly, ever so slowly, I would have experiences of going deep, sometims falling asleep, but sometimes dropping into a true shavasana. I would be weightless floating in space and enjoying the silence and I would begin to hear a voice. I would think, “Who the hell is that? Is it God? Why are they talking? I really need them to be quiet because I am so blissed out right now….” then I would realize that it was the teacher, and that I was laying on a rubber mat in a room full of people and that I felt like I had been asleep for hours. Reality: 5 minures.

As this happened more often, I noticed that I felt less and less inclined to “hurry up and be upset again at the injustice of it all. Time is a wastin’!” Then I began to notice that I just didn’t get as worked up over stuff the way that I used to. I was spending more and more time in a yogic state. On and off of the mat. The peace found in yoga is our natural state of being, the world outside the mat is actually more of an illusion. A contrivance. The scales had tipped.

I refer to shavasana as a time to “marinate in the juice of the practice”. It is like pushing the “save” button on the computer. It seals it all in. And in that time the body, mind and spirit can rejuvenate, reboot, rewire. Yoga changes us and shavasana seals in the newly edited version. 

Shavasana is now my dear friend and a state that I can dip into whenever I need it. Whether I am laying on my  mat or not. That is a sweet and  useful life skill indeed.

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I was standing in my kitchen drinking red wine and eating the last remnants of an intense chocolate dessert brought to me from my favorite French café earlier this evening, and secretly wondering if I was shaving hours or days off of my life by doing what I was doing. these thoughts cross my mind a lot these days. today has been especially trying.

Sunday evening. day light savings. although you could feel the spring in the air, and sense things stirring in the earth, and it was a sunny blue sky day, it turned into a melancholy Sunday evening. when I was a kid, I would get profoundly depressed on Sunday nights. having dinner, watching the “wonderful world of Disney”….(yes, I am dating myself, but my dated self is another blog entirely…) and in the afterglow of the magic kingdom, was the depressing reality of going back to school the next day, and some deeper underlying sad panic that my life was only going to get harder and more complicated and yet boring and repetitive and nothing would ever feel like it was enough, I would always feel and or be alone and then I would die. this is not just poetic adult hindsight. I actually felt like this a great deal as a child. a young child.

this weighty depressed outlook has accompanied most of my adult life, sparked with manic bursts of insane happiness.( wow, I just used manic and insane in the same sentence to describe myself…hmm) as I found yoga and my own sort of spirituality and drank less and breathed more, it subsided considerably. for many years it was gone completely. the last few years this tenuous anxiety has crept back in on a more regular basis and the last year it has kicked my ass in hard, sharp and unexpected ways. I find myself floating between my calm yogic self ( my “ohminess” as my daughter calls it,) and the panic stricken 6 year old who feels that she will never be enough. and also this 6 year old self is on strange toxic cancer drugs so she is super extra messed up when she shows her face these days.  she is around a lot.  actually, she has kind of moved back home.

it is exhausting taking care of her. she is SO needy. so insecure. so relentlessly intense. she engulfs me multiple times a day. sometimes I am taken hostage by her for the whole day. sometimes days. her stories spin and spin and I experience them in visceral 3d. I get so angry. jesus! I am 50 years old. I am an adult. a strong, intelligent, lovely woman. I am funny and tender and wise (well, a wise ass…) I am a teacher, and a healer, and a strong part of my community. why is this horrible pain in the ass child still hanging around and ruining my life?

I can feel her breathing down my neck clutching, sobbing and I turn around and scream, “what the hell do you want?! can’t you see that you are making it impossible for me to focus on my life. to pay attention to critical things I need to pay attention to. the stress of dealing with you is affecting my very health. not to mention that no one could ever possibly love me for very long if you keep storming into my life and ruining everything. WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”

she is weeping. her eyes are pleading. she is so small. so alone. her voice barely a whisper. “just love me. please just love me no matter how horrible I am. please don’t leave me.”

I look into her eyes and gather her in my arms and hold her close. I breathe with her and I can feel the panic subside, my strength return and we are no longer separate. she is not outside of me, but a tender beloved part of me. not to be denied or marginalized. after awhile there is some peace.

I have been awake since 1:00 and it is now 5:20. I have been drinking matcha and eating toast as I write this. my daughter came to my room while I was reading last night and asked if she could sleep with me. I love it when she does that.

as I lay in bed awake wrestling with my broken 6 year old self, I could feel lily’s 6 year old self there as well. all of us together. all trying to find love and safety and peace. the bed was full.

too late to go back to sleep, so I will feed the cats, build a fire and do my morning meditation. I feel at peace and ready to begin this new day.  so grateful for my life even when it feels like way too much to even begin to deal with.

thank you for listening. we are not alone. have a beautiful day.

artwork by susan seddon boulet “bearchild”

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