New Year, Past Life
As I was sticking my legs behind my head bright and early this New Year’s Day, I thought about how different my life is now and the path that brought me here. I had a flashback to New Year’s Eve 2000 (something about deep hip openers brings emotional, near-forgotten memories into focus, doesn’t it?). In the year 2000, I was 17, totally out of control, and drowning in shame, anxiety, and fear. I spent that night jumping from party to party, popping ecstasy, snorting lines of coke, and drinking my weight in liquor.
When that memory of a past, dark New Years Eve popped up, I felt only a twinge of something unpleasant. Regret maybe, both for having done it and for giving it up. That darkness never goes down without a fight, after all. But mostly I felt peaceful. I felt relief that the memory came and went without me succumbing to the fantasy that this time I could party with wild abandon without losing myself. I felt grateful for the practice and what it's taught me. No longer do I suffer from the crushing anxiety that drove me to self-destruct. When I close my eyes and listen to my heart, that “I am not okay” feeling is a like a shadow of what it used to be. It’s a scar instead of the open, festering wound that I tried, in vain, to fix with drugs and alcohol. Now, in the stillness of my mind, when I'm alone with my thoughts, I feel safe and loved. My scars are healing. These days, I’d rather spend my New Year’s Eve quietly at home and wake up ready to work out my issues on my mat instead of with a bottle of Captain Morgan and an eight ball. This year, I gladly sacrificed this once hallowed party night in service of my practice. It's not a cure-all that magically rescues you from your problems, but yoga has shown me a new and better way to live.
I’m glad this memory showed up when it did. It delivered much needed perspective on a day of reflection and intention-setting. I’m not sure I know how or why, but Ashtanga yoga is the right path for me. I gave up on the copious drug and alcohol use long before I found yoga, but the darkness lingered, leaving me vulnerable to self-destruction if an opportunity came along. Practicing yoga has helped me uncover the light. It was the missing element in my lifelong search for peace. I’m far from perfect and have a lifetime of work ahead of me, but I feel home, and that’s something to be grateful for.
Happy New Year to all you lovely people! I wish you peace and happiness in the deepest place within your heart!