I believe that one can find a reservoir of basic goodness inside the heart of every person. At times, we let our ego block expressions of caring in relationships, and if we’re not careful we may find that we dwell there. We love to hang on to our resentments. We may even become addicted to telling our stories of how we have been wronged or hurt, further blocking certain channels within us that allow love to enter and flow. We even hang onto our own mistakes and we assign negative labels to ourselves as a result. While allowing ourselves to feel our emotions is crucial to our well-being, learning to release our pain has proven far more beneficial to us as a whole person.
We Are Not Our Ego
We are part of something much bigger. So much of why we practice yoga is about letting go; even if it’s simply letting go of our busy schedule for 90 minutes.
Whenever we practice anything that helps to open our hearts, it’s almost as if we were wearing cloudy glasses that have now been bathed in clear water.
In moments of clarity, we can see to “the heart of the matter” so to speak. Sometimes, if we just slow down, check in with ourselves and breathe deeply we can begin to see into the heart of another person, and into our own hearts. Only in awakened moments, can we truly see.
Forgive as you want to be forgiven. It sounds like a biblical ideology, doesn’t it? The truth is that we all harbor guilt and resentment. During a period of extreme anxiety in my life, the therapist I’d been seeing informed me that guilt is a useless emotion. It is really just misplaced responsibility.
I’m not always certain that I believe in The Law of Attraction and the concept of “like attracting like”; the notion that whatever energy we put out into the world is what comes back to us. I vascillate.
What about the parents of the Sandy Hook babies (that’s what they were) or the terror that these little people felt?
At times, I feel that the idea of Karma can be dangerous. I question it. Questioning can be cleansing. I believe in questioning our “truths,” and not becoming fixed or fixating on any idea or concept. Guilt can surround all of these belief systems. “How did I attract this? I did everything right,” or even worse, believing that we deserve a certain fate.
Sometimes, without even realizing it, we carry around guilt. It’s heavy and it weighs us down- that’s why it’s called “baggage.” It seems that one of the hardest things for human beings to do is to free ourselves of what we store in our minds and bodies. We struggle to lighten our load and let go of our thoughts.
I’ve done energy work, sat in guided meditation practice with a trained professional, set intentions before receiving reiki for optimal healing…
I truly thought myself to be free of a lot of my baggage, my guilt; again getting comfortable in who I think I am. Back in February, I attended a manifestation yoga retreat with Jennifer Pastiloff. One of the yoga poses that we held was WarriorII. I practice Bikram yoga exclusively, and found it similar to the set up of triangle pose. I felt confident in the posture, not thinking that it would have a profound effect on me or that my brain would forever classify this moment as transformative. Hip openers, like heart opening postures, help us release unwanted emotions that no longer serve us. They truly are “openers.” As we held Warrior II, she guided our breath and commanded us not to hide our hearts. We were to puff out our chests. “Don’t hide your heart from me!” she exclaimed. Her delivery was so unbelievably powerful. As we started to feel the burn, she intuitively felt our energy. She felt that we wanted to come out of the posture, and she guided our breath. “What do you need to forgive yourself for? Think about it. Play the movie reel in your mind. Feel it. Let it all come back. Feel it. What do you need to forgive yourself for?”
She Gave Us A Moment
In the Bikram yoga studio, we take a vow of silence and there is no noise in the room except for the dialogue of the instructor. I certainly have never practiced yoga with music before. Music is a huge presence in my life. My music library can only be likened to that of some sort of a musical schizophrenic. I love words and anything that helps me feel my life and transcend an emotion or experience. It struck me as brilliant to combine yoga with music.
As we were breathing, holding the posture and conjuring the feelings of the things that no longer serve us, gathering up the baggage that weigh heavy in our hearts and the things we feel responsible for- Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” began to play.
That first note began. Her angelic, other-worldy voice radiated through all of our heavy hearts in that first note. You know the one that I mean. We breathed with our yogic technique as we were instructed, and gently were asked, “Right now, forgive yourself for all of it. Forgive. For all of it”. That last line echoed through my soul… “for all of it.”
I could not believe how many tears flowed from depths within me that I never even realized that I hadn’t reached. It was almost as if someone had their finger on a release button inside of me. I could hear the sobs throughout the room. I became lost in my tears and almost forgot where I was. I certainly forgot about my body and its discomfort. The lyrics of the song held a whole new meaning for me; sung by a woman with such an amazing gift that clearly never forgave herself.
When the song ended and we sat on our mat, the room fell to an exhausting silence. It also felt somehow lighter. I felt lighter. The freedom, as if I’d released a bowling ball from my stomach…
What’s interesting is that I didn’t even know that it was there. I thought that I had released it years ago. Yoga has also shown me that we’re never finished. Just like our practice, we change all the time.
Somehow, even my surrounding visually looked different as I cleared my tears away. I had that burning sensation in my eyes that one feels after a good cry. We all took that deep breath that one feels when the cry is over and we know that we released something heavy. It is only in that release that we know that whatever “it” is, its power has diminished.
We all have baggage. We are all hard on ourselves. We question our circumstances and somehow ask ourselves what we’ve done to deserve them.
My yoga practice, the practice of slowing down the mind and breathing through discomfort has helped me release so much. Mostly, it’s pushed me out of my comfort zone and what I know to be “true.” Our yoga practice reminds us where we are out of balance the second we root ourselves down on our mat. The “openers” help us gauge where we are closed, and what needs to be open.
Even if we cannot practice yoga, just sitting and breathing deeply, calmly, and mindfully- we can set an intention. Maybe it is to forgive ourselves.
For all of it.