How Breathing Helped Me to Heal
Through my stillness in asana class and in meditation, I learned that breathing slowly unleashed my inner poetry.
Photo Credit: Yarrow Bucans
It took me years of a regular yoga and meditation practice to get to the root of my emotional pain. It took me even longer to alchemize that pain into light.
If only I’d known that all I had to do was surrender
But, that would have been too easy. See, I was under the control of my monkey mind. It was running the show. And, since I am extremely stubborn, I hd to learn to surrender the hard way. My mind had to walk me through years of anxiety, OCD, tears, fears, and jealousy before I was able to get on my knees and with love in my heart, surrender to a source greater than my mind.
The mind is a powerful tool. And mine longed to be the vacant girl who dresses perfectly and is admired purely for her beauty, but that wasn’t me. I was a girl who felt deeply and openly and wanted others to feel too. I spent my days seeking my purpose rather than my next high. I wanted one that made my soul sing and my heart soar.
Even still, I latched onto the vision of becoming a cigarette-smoking, cocaine-doing shell of a girl. I loved the image—the tortured one, the beautiful nymph who was taken care of, who was revered and admired at the same time. The muse—Edie Sedgwick. It was this image that allowed me to let my soul run amok, while my mind fed its addiction. All while practicing yoga and meditating.
The longer I practiced, the more I began to unravel. It was messy at first. Strands came undone in the most unruly of ways. My pain, my darkness, came to the forefront, and I had to work through it.
“We need to be in touch with our negative feelings, but only in order to release them and feel the love that lies beneath them,” says Marianne Williamson in A Return To Love.
I had a hard time connecting to this idea. While I was in touch with my negative feelings, I wasn’t necessarily sitting with them. Instead, I was talking my way around them, rather than releasing them. Subconsciously, I knew that once I let go, it would all fall apart. It had to, so that I could release the light within.
Ten years ago, four years into my yoga and meditation practice, my heart was badly broken. In a way, that was my beginning. It was then that I started channeling my pain into writing, but I was still scared. I still judged. And, I found a wonderful boy to coddle my broken heart, instead of helping me to heal it. Relationships are the easiest place to hide.
My inner guide knew I was hiding, but I ignored her. And then one day, the universe gave me a push, forcing me to officially let him go.
It was from there that I was finally able to quiet my stubborn mind. As I stood in the center of my Manhattan apartment alone, really, really alone, more alone than I’d ever been, with tears streaming down my face, I got to my knees. In surrendering, the layers shed away. My fears came to the surface, lessons were thrown at me, and I had no choice but to learn them.
I became honest with myself, which came at a cost. I had to let go of the “idea” of who I wanted to be and have the courage to be my real self.
This did not come easily. At first, I fought it, and went back to old behaviors, habits, and places of comfort, but my inner voice wouldn’t let me stay there. My mind was no longer in control. When I surrendered, I took its power away, and in its place my light shone through. Within each of us the light, the beauty, the poetry, and the love exist underneath the darker pieces of ourselves.
I spent years as a prisoner to my emotional pain, which manifested as anxiety, need for control, fear, jealousy, and judgment (of myself and of others). It wasn’t until I learned to be still and to breathe that I was able to be honest with myself.
Through my stillness in asana class and in meditation, I learned that breathing slowly unleashed my inner poetry. Breath is magic. It can reveal the truth, a truth from which it is impossible to hide.
No longer could I indulge in my pain or hide in my comforts. I had to extract it, hold it in my hand, and alchemize it into light. I had to be honest and vulnerable. I had to let go. I had to breathe.