This fall has felt darker than most. Seems as if the tides of life have been testing so many of us lately. Grief and loss seem to have touched us all.
It’s during these times of struggle that human connection plays such an important role. We lean on each other for support, we come together about the things that really matter, and we forget about the things that separate us.
At a time when division is great, and the skies have been literally gray as winter sets in, a blanket of quiet sadness can often be the result. But it’s friendship, family, community, sisterhood and brotherhood that can hold us together. Ironically, when we celebrate these bonds during the holidays, even amidst all the cheer and beer, it’s often when many of us can experience loneliness and despair. Creating a time and place where honesty and community come together may be what’s missing.
In yoga, while love and light is hailed as the cornerstone of the practice, recognizing the darkness which can often shadow it, is the difficult but necessary work we must do in order to truly remove the obstacles that obscure it. As a defense mechanism, we as humans put up barriers, and a wall of cemented brick and mortar to shield ourselves from what lurks deep down inside. Afraid of facing it, fearful of speaking of it, or even realizing or acknowledging that it exists, repression is one of our favorite go-to’s for survival.
Most discover through the yoga practice, that these suppressed feelings, emotions or stories, eventually start to seep out. Through the practice of expanding and contracting our muscles and tissues, squeezing and soaking, flushing and replenishing, the things we have denied and compressed in the self-created trash compactors of our bodies begin to ooze out. By watching and really feeling what’s happening in our body, our awareness begins to deepen, and our bodies and minds naturally begin to clear out the rubble.
Unconsciously or not, it takes so much energy to keep that stuff bottled up in there and pretend “everything is fine!” To look deeply within yourself to discover and recognize the barriers that you have built up to protect yourself can sting, seer, and challenge what we thought was. It takes courage sometimes to step out into the freezing, bitter cold to throw out the garbage. But when you return, the vague stench of rotting waste has lifted, and a sense of freshness has returned. Like cleaning out the closet or purging the basement, the process can be messy, but in the end, it just feels so damn good!
While the clearing out process of yourself can get a bit ugly, moving through it is the trick. Although our human tendency is to indulge and wallow in negativity and self-pity, the key lies in digging up the strength to dredge yourself back up out of it. But you got to go there to get out of it.
And on the other side of it is acceptance, maybe eventually peace, and gratitude for what actually is. Although finding contentment in each moment is an ongoing, breath by breath practice, in my experience, it really has its roots in gratitude.
So, as we move into the season of connection and gratitude, I hope we can all move beyond what we remember once was or worry about what may or might not be, and take support in your family, friends, brothers and sisters. Love and lavish in the what is and count your blessings each and every day.
On this Thanksgiving, I give thanks for my connection with each one of you.