Something you may not know about me is that at times I suffer from debilitating anxiety. I choose to use this word "suffer" because when these moments hit, I am indeed suffering. I am totally suffocated by my own neuroses. Lost in the land of can't breath and can't think.
I lose myself.
Last week I called my husband to come home from work because I was on the verge of a panic attack and needed help with our daughter. When he arrived I simply began crying. Olive, our two-year-old is incredibly perceptive and empathic. She began to cry too. And my husband as our rock, calmed us down and then proceeded to make us run through the sprinkler and lay in the hammock. Which reset everyone. (More on why this resourcing works further down the post)
I suffer from an anxiety that has two distinct streams. The first is this:
I have always been incredibly sensitive and moody. I can pick up on others thoughts and emotions very easily. I have had to create impeccable boundaries and have been called uptight, rigid, unable to relax and bossy more time than I can count. But I am also incredibly sensitive and accommodating. And when I get out of center I do not always speak for my needs. I give my power away and then I am lost at sea, drowning in so many feelings at once that I choke back the anxiety until I can't anymore. Sometimes I do not realize I have been suppressing these feelings until my body breaks down or cries out. Honestly, I have observed that this has been made worse by social media and the easy way we compare via this medium. It is too much input for my system to hold.
The second stream is this:
I come from a lineage of survivors. Transgenerational trauma if you will. This lineage has granted me a very vigilant nervous system and a severe lack in the ability to feel safe. My cellular imprint includes captivity, hiding, terror, migration and a real fear of death due to mere existence. It has worsened since our political climate has deteriorated. And since having a child and becoming more indebted to my lineage, to this world and to my body. As the love has increased, so have the stakes. And some days, the existential fall is too much.
These streams manifest in the kind of anxiety that includes visceral terror even in the presence of privilege, health, and safety. I panic. Sweating. Crying. Sure I might be dying. Or something is wrong.
For me, my anxiety and panic manifest in a hyper-vigilant neurosis of my body and what is happening inside my body. Can I breathe? Is this ok? What's this bump? Should this be here? What if it's not ok? Whats that sensation? Is that ok? It's a neurotic checking. Checking. Checking. Prodding. Poking. Checking. Am I alive? Am I real? Am I ok?
I share this with you because there is still a way we believe that yoga magically heals. That it removes suffering and pain. That it makes us immortal and incapable of becoming sick. We still think it can solve problem therapy can't.
This is not true. Not true at all. It is not that simple.
For some people going into the body and its sensations is incredibly resourcing. It supports the nervous system to relax and orient. Using forms and shapes gives a safe container to feel. After years of being out and frayed, it is time to recognize we have a home. A body. A sensation. Feelings. Some people need to go I N to wake up.
For other people, they are already drowning in themselves. In every sensation and every feeling. So when we ask them to feel, they get flooded by all that's in there. It is not a relief. It is a suffocation. For those of us, who tend towards hiding inside our own sensate vigilance, we need to peer
O U T and towards nature. We need to lay on the ground, feel the cool water on our skin. Feel the contact of another human.
I share this with you because I am hearing that as somatics becomes more of a trend in our yoga culture we are leaning into sensation tracking more than before. This is wonderful. It is taking the practice of yoga into a deeply human and present time. Making yoga about embodiment and life. Not one of dissociating and going up and out to someplace more ideal.
But this process is incredibly nuanced and I want to help us refine our awareness of how the nervous system works and what we are doing when we talk about resourcing and developing the sensate world. (more on that another time)
I share this with you too because we also need to continue to dismantle our own shame and hiding around our wounds and lineages so that we can be freer to teach, lead and learn from our souls. Not a single teacher of this practice is free from a wound. And most people I know, myself included, put on a good front. It's not cool to talk about anxiety or depression or addictions or abortions or flailing marriages or being rageful at your kids. It's not cool to admit that the yoga hasn't cured us of our humanness. It's not cool to say we need something else besides our daily dose of #yogaeverydamday or being #heavilymeditated.
We need these practices to refine our consciousness so that we can see our fears, anger, grief, and joy and all our experiences as normative--until they aren't. These practices can help anchor us in a truth and give us an "Island of sanity" that nurtures our emotional and sensate experiences. And these practices can help us create meaning where we otherwise feel lost.
Last week I felt really lost. This week I feel found and tender and real. I feel contacted and located inside my truth. Which means I had to see some hard dynamics in my family and have a tough conversation and admit some hurt. The yoga helps. The dance helps. The trees help. Music helps. Speaking the truth to friends helps.
As one of my teachers says....