There I stood, legs wide on my mat with my head trying to reach the ground. My hands were clasped behind my back and my fingers struggled to keep their grasp while my rings dug in deep. My upper back pinched between my shoulder blades and everything strained. My face felt like it was falling and my jaw did everything it could to clench as my mind told it to release. My mind was shouting to all parts of my body to release, RELEASE, RELEASE, but my body would not obey. I tried breathing slowly and making the sound of the ocean, but instead it sounded like I was choking, drowning, gasping through my nose. The air would only come in and out through the right side and my tongue drooped down blocking the air. I kept my eyes closed, but could feel that my left leg was still slightly bent. I breathed in and out 10 times in this fashion before coming up for air. I rested and then resumed, but by breath 7 my arms fell away from each other and rested on the mat. I opened my eyes for the last three breaths and was critical of how my posture looked. I felt stooped instead of folded. I wanted to cry. I came up again after the 10th breath and walked away from the mat. I felt broken.
This was my practice yesterday. My Day 7 reading asked me to let go of my suffering, for “when we are happy, we spread happiness.” p.10 So, instinctively I went to a yoga pose that is meant to heal the heart, Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Leg Forward Fold). This pose is meant to help open your heart chakra by opening the chest while bringing you a feeling of grounding both physically (the feet) and mentally (the head placed on the ground). I chose this pose because it is also said to help open your throat chakra and sometimes, when thinking about pain and suffering, I feel like I need more freedom to say what it is I feel, I need, and I want.
I chose this picture of the pose for a few reasons. The first is that it’s a very good representation of the pose without looking like it’s impossible to get into. The second is that it was just a funny picture. And the third is that it spoke to me about the cycle of suffering. The same pose is on the front cover of the Lorr book I am reading right now, but that book is offering me very little inspiration at the moment. Instead, while I was in this pose I wanted to think very deeply about how and why I might be suffering in my life right now. Things are not always sunshine and rainbows shooting out my rear.
After I left the mat I took a few minutes to compose myself. I stopped myself before I started to cry. I don’t know why I did this, but it’s something I do a lot of. I hate to cry for so many reasons, but I think the biggest reason is that it makes me feel weak and vulnerable and that is a place that I try to keep walled up. I also hate the face I make when I cry and how I can’t wear my contacts for two days after I cry because my eyes swell up. But, I stopped myself this time because I knew why I was going to cry and I wasn’t ready to face that reasoning. I suffer every day because I hold grudges despite my attempts to let go of things that bother me. I am good at letting go of little things, but big things I tuck down deep and allow them to eat away at me. I don’t know why I do this. I think it started out as a way to protect myself, but as I grow older, I know that it’s doing more harm than good.
So, in that place of pain, while I was upside down connecting my mind and my body, I stopped and walled up yet again. It was hurting my practice, hurting me physically, and hurting me emotionally. My biggest grudge has been eating away at me for 15 years now, an anger at my dad for tearing our family apart. However, it is a pain and not a pain. I wonder how I might be different or where my life might have led if things had been different. At the same time, I no longer miss his presence in my life. He’s like a friend from school that I didn’t keep up with. I can look back on some fond memories and say, “Those were the days,” but not feel the need to pick up the phone and reconnect because it was a lifetime ago….almost half of my whole life ago.
I wonder how I can reconcile this suffering and the effects it has on my every day life. How do I fully let go of this grudge? Do I let him back into my life? Do I accept that life is what it is and keep moving forward, but without that feeling of “what if”? If I could let go of this weight, this pain, this suffering, this grudge, I feel like I could feel free to keep an open heart. A grudge free heart. A happy heart. How are you suffering and how can you let it go?