I recently went through a difficult place emotionally. Who hasn’t had a dark moment of the soul? What’s fascinating is that just prior to the low place I was in a spiritually high place, riding the wave of joy and utter contentment. What caused this shift? Mean and hurtful words that were spoken to me. These words were cruel and were intended to be cruel. I knew that this person was dumping their anxiety and emotional baggage on me so that she could feel better about herself. I analyzed if from every angle. I tried to apply the golden rule and the four agreements but no, it didn’t get better. I tried to laugh it off and retell the incident as though I was a standup comedian; making fun of myself to get a laugh from others. I went to a dark place of hating this person which only caused me to be sullen and pitiful.
What changed? How did I snap out of it? Friends, true sisters who were relentless that the ugly words were not true. They listened, told me their hearts were broken as well, sent me funny texts, spiritually based sayings and mantras. They gave me ideas on how to set boundaries and regain my confidence. All this hands-on love helped me to connect to a profound truth, that I am loved.
The spell was finally broken when I practiced with two of friends. We have a private yoga session once a week. We skipped a few practices lately because life got in the way, and one of the friends was in Italy! Of course, we had to catch up with each other before we could practice. I relayed the incident and they clucked over me like a mother hen. They both told me wonderful things about me, kind and thoughtful words that continued to erase the cruel words spoken over me. You know, words can be a blessing or a curse!
But what changed everything is when I slipped into that teacher mode and began giving loving cues, instructions and encouragement to them and their practice! I heard each of them sigh collectively or individually as our old bones and muscles stretched. As we dove into comforting and familiar sun salutations they said, “Oh, this feels GOOD!” When I encouraged them with new asanas, poses, they smiled, their faces beamed with joy. When I challenged them with navasana they whined and said it was torture, just like we do with Carla in a Barre class.
Friendship saved me, my practice encouraged me and giving love away anchored me!
The Buddha is credited with this saying, “The mind is everything, what you think is what you become.” I had relived the incident over and over and as I did the cruel words saturated my mind. They became my truth. My friends’ love and encouragement were like a boat that carried me to the other side of the troubled waters. The sisters in my tribe listened, told me of course to let it go and gave me sound advice. But I was stuck, paralyzed with fear because the incident brought old wounds to the surface.
That afternoon practice with my friends was the turning point. Maya Angelo once said, “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is…. change it! If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” I have blogged often about how yoga can alter our perspective and our attitude. I have experienced this time and time again and hopefully you have as well. When I got on my mat that day my heart was able to accept the kind words that had been spoken over me by ALL my friends. My mind got out of the way and I was able to relax into the rhythm of the flow and release from the asanas. When I went into teacher mode my victim status was forced to take a back seat so that my true self could guide and nurture my friends on their quest, their journey. As we rolled up our mats my friends hugged and loved on me and I realized the pain was gone. I had energy to set a new course, to change the direction of the relationship so that I’m in control. This person, this difficult relationship is not going away but I can change the way I think about it.
I hope you have friends, true sisters who can carry you and lend a helping hand! I hope you know your value and your truth, that you are important and that you are loved. And I hope that your yoga/fitness practice can be one of the tools in you bag along with mediation and a healthy diet. I hope that you can live in grace and peace as you cherish the good things in your life and put the bad things into a manageable space. And I hope that you can find a path, a charity, a passion in which you can give love away.
Get out of you head, live from the heart and change your perspective.
Grace and Peace,