Terrible, Horrible, No Good Day
Today, I was a sad, anxious mess. Even before I got out of bed, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was *not* okay.
I think it’s important that we give ourselves permission to feel like shit. I’ve written about that before. It is unreasonable to believe that we will never have moments of self-doubt, anxiety, and just straight up emotional chaos. However, we can keep those feelings from taking over and ruling our lives by tapping into the peaceful, unshakeable “storm shelter” the resides deep inside each of us. (Excuse the storm shelter reference. I'm from Oklahoma, aka Tornado Alley, so the analogy makes perfect sense to me!)
The emotional and mental fluctuations that demand so much of our energy are truly only the surface of our experience. Deep below that, there is a calm stillness where we can recognize the futility of it all. Religious people might say it’s where the Holy Spirit resides. Non religious people might say it’s where our true nature exists. No matter what you call it, it’s possible for us all to get in touch with it and remind ourselves that we truly are okay.
The goal of yoga is to help us learn to access that shelter, and I can say from experience that it works. I’m not perfect. Like, at all. Today is an example of me not being able to find my way to my shelter. But, getting on my mat everyday through the years has helped. I have learned not to engage so intensely with that surface level experience. I’m learning to be a better observer of the turmoil while I stay safe in my breath. Before I began practicing yoga, I didn't even know that was an option!
Challenging postures that stimulate our fight or flight response are great teachers on the path of yoga. Through repeated practice, these postures teach us that panicking only makes it worse. As anxious as we may feel in a pose, breathing steadily—i.e. remaining centered—is how to get through it. Disconnecting from our breath will cause us to identify with the turmoil and freak out. That leads to disaster, both in asana and in life. Yoga shows us a new way. It illuminates the path to the storm shelter.
So I’m grateful for days like today when I get to practice yoga off the mat in a way that challenges me so much. A day like today is the equivalent of 1000 kapotasanas! Perhaps next time I have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, I won’t be taken off course so easily.
Moral of the story? Get on your mat, folks. It’s more than just exercise.