Tag Archives: fighting the tears

Day 6: The Yoga of Self-Care

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Day 6: The Yoga of Self-Care

Why am I writing about self-care? All I had learned and understood was how to live in survival mode which is chaos and mayhem. Very exhausting. Self-care was a vague and foreign concept – something I am still cultivating an understanding within myself. I believe listening to my body is the foundation for learning how best to take care of myself. It has taken me years to develop healthier habits. And I am still very much a work in progress. Consistency is my challenge. I find myself in a state of resistance or flat out self-sabotage regularly.

There are so many reasons why we, as a culture, resist premium self-care habits in the midst of our platinum and luxurious lives. In my opinion, the lives we are working so hard to maintain, are layers of distraction for avoiding ourselves. I am ready for something different.

I choose to give myself permission to take extraordinary and exquisite care of myself. I give you permission to do it too.

Why all this emphasis on yoga? It spoke to me. Attending weekly Trauma Sensitive Yoga classes taught me what consistency meant for my body. Anytime I see a mat, I feel my body hum. It longs to spend more time on the mat in various states of rest and stretching.

TRAUMA YOGA

Contrary. Oxymoron.
Like me.
Two halves that should not fit.
But must reside in the same body.
The wounded half. The healed half.
I wonder, “How is this yoga different?
My curiosity invites me.
My trauma qualifies me.
My trauma body shows up.
Longing to find my yoga body.

No Eastern ambiance.
Just a conference room.
Filled with a sense of safety.
Created just for me.
And the millions of eligible souls.
Small classes, by design.
No challenge for perfecting the pose.
No call for deepening the experience.
My eyelids shutter closed.

It is just me and the teacher’s calm voice.
My body responds with a small rocking motion.
My self-soothing visits each pose.
Resources on Suicide Prevention keep me company during tree pose.
I smirk at the irony.
Memories of my 15-year vigil with Suicide.
And now I am doing yoga with Suicide.

Several weeks go by uneventfully.
Then my whole being hears the word “choice.”
My body shudders in response.
My mind keeps repeating:
Choice, choices, choice, choices, choice, choices
This is my awakening
I can move a little
Or a lot
Or not at all
The past is not here

Today means
No violent authority
No need to resist
No one holding me down
No one demanding, expecting
It is just me

I immerse myself in the experience of safety and choice
Body memories spasm and sputter, ready to escape
Captive no more
A spinal twist wrings out ancient tears

Yoga connects me to my body
Helps me feel whole
Shows me the path of gentleness
I begin to see a wider landscape of the future
To feel more freedom than pain
To resemble healing more than trauma

Only a teacher than understands
Trauma is ready to witness the depth of my pain
Only a teacher that understands
Yoga will appreciate the stretch of my courage
Today
I practice
The Yoga of Courage
I practice
The Yoga of Choice
I practice
Freedom Yoga

Photo, of the author in tree pose, is by http://www.brittripleyphotography.com/

Previously published on http://givebackyoga.org/trauma-sensitive-yoga-for-rape-survivors-reflections-from-a-poet

This is part 6 of a 7 part series on self-care.

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The Practice of Honor

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The Practice of Honor

“Why do you fight your tears? How would it feel to honor your tears?” my friend gently inquired.

Honor my tears? As in, welcome and embrace them? I couldn’t fathom what that would feel like. My whole life I had been frustrated with my propensity to cry – some would say I was tenderhearted. That sounds poetic, but I felt like a sloppy, blubbering mess of a woman. I cried when I was sad, angry, happy, menstruating; in short, anything and everything provided reason to cry. I know others judged me for some of the times I cried, but I judged myself EVERY time I cried. Each tear came from a deep well of shame and embarrassment. I did not bestow mercy or compassion upon myself, but rather self-loathing. I resisted and fought my tears because I was terrified that I would be labeled immature and out of control, exactly how I saw myself.

I was the only adult that I knew that cried as much as I did. Even on anti-depressants, I cried. The last psychiatrist I saw finally said to me, “Medicine can’t heal your broken heart.” Ten years of therapy, countless drugs later and I still had a broken heart? I didn’t know what to think of a broken heart. I had been looking outside of myself for a cure and found many band-aids, all unable to hold my wounds together. I started searching for how to heal my heart which led me to the friend that suggested I experience crying differently.

Hesitantly, I began the practice of honoring my tears, being thankful that I could cry. It was a pretty wild experience in the beginning because it was so radically different. It felt real and authentic. It brought freedom and relief.

Still in practice mode, a conversation prompted tears one Friday afternoon in April of 2006. That evening at dinner with friends, my tears continued. The next morning I burst into tears moments after waking up. I had a Tending Your Inner Garden workshop to attend. I tried to gain composure to no avail. I finally packed up my box of tissue, journal and water bottle and headed to the day-long retreat. I arrived 45 minutes late and a face full of evidence. My introduction of myself was this: “Hi, I am Angela, the crier. Nothing catastrophic happened, I am just crying. Ignore them if you can, but know that I am ok – these are healthy tears. “

By mid-afternoon the tears had subsided. Only to start up again that night and the next day, in fact, every day for a solid week, I cried. Sometimes they were soft and gentle tears while other times a tsunami. I understood, deep within me, that my heart was being cleansed in a profound way that I could not articulate.

All week I maintained my schedule and practiced honor. On day 8, when I wondered if I would cry forever, I noticed I could read a license plate across the parking lot. I put on my glasses and sure enough there was no difference! Had my eyes healed? Did crying do this?

Afraid it was a temporary fluke, a magic spell that would break, I kept it to myself for two weeks. Six years and 2 driving tests later, I am still without glasses. I believe that releasing my self- judgment and self-loathing created this spontaneous healing. There are many lessons that emerged from those 8 days.

In my practice of letting go and I allowed a new season to emerge – a season of profound healing.  As I dropped my metaphoric leaves, I gained clear vision on many levels and discovered the key to healing my heart was learning to honor and cherish my Self.  Just like the trees, I am deeply rooted in being myself all year long.

 

-Angela Rae Clark, 2006 TYIG seedling still finding ways to blossom. Angela is working on a book to share her personal healing journey that includes more spontaneous healing stories. Many of her experiences involve healing from memories of childhood rape and torture. She is grateful to have the TYIG tools to draw upon during this journey. Deb, Diane and the TYIG friends are a source of love and support. Angela offers support and teaching through her healing arts practice, The Ki Inside. www.TheKiInside.com.