Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea. ~ Julie (JC) Peters

Via on Jun 1, 2011
Photo: Kaysse

The Goddess of never not broken.

You know that feeling when you have just gone through a breakup, or lost your job, and everything is terrible and terrifying and you don’t know what to do, and you find yourself crying in a pile on your bedroom floor, barely able to remember how to use the phone, desperately looking for some sign of God in old letters, or your Facebook newsfeed or on Glee, finding nothing there to comfort you?

Come on, yes you do. We all do.

And there is a goddess from Hindu mythology that teaches us that, in this moment, in this pile on the floor, you are more powerful than you’ve ever been.

This past week, I have been deeply inspired by a talk I heard on the Yoga Teacher Telesummit by Eric Stoneberg on this relatively unknown Goddess from Hindu mythology: Akhilandeshvari.

This figure has snuck up inside me and settled into my bones. She keeps coming out of my mouth every time I teach, and she’s given me so much strength and possibility during a time of change and uncertainty in my own life. I wanted to unpack a little bit about who she is for those that might be, like me, struggling a little bit in that pile on the floor and wondering how the hell to get up again.

The answer, it turns out, is this: in pieces, warrior-style, on the back of a crocodile. Yee ha.

Akhilandeshvari:

“Ishvari” in Sanskrit means “goddess” or “female power,” and the “Akhilanda” means essentially “never not broken.” In other words, The Always Broken Goddess. Sanskrit is a tricky and amazing language, and I love that the double negative here means that she is broken right down to her name.

But this isn’t the kind of broken that indicates weakness and terror.

It’s the kind of broken that tears apart all the stuff that gets us stuck in toxic routines, repeating the same relationships and habits over and over, rather than diving into the scary process of trying something new and unfathomable.

Akhilanda derives her power from being broken: in flux, pulling herself apart, living in different, constant selves at the same time, from never becoming a whole that has limitations.

The thing about going through sudden or scary or sad transitions (like a breakup) is that one of the things you lose is your future: your expectations of what the story of your life so far was going to become. When you lose that partner or that job or that person, your future dissolves in front of you.

And of course, this is terrifying.

But look, Akhilanda says, now you get to make a choice. In pieces, in a pile on the floor, with no idea how to go forward, your expectations of the future are meaningless. Your stories about the past do not apply. You are in flux, you are changing, you are flowing in a new way, and this is an incredibly powerful opportunity to become new again: to choose how you want to put yourself back together. Confusion can be an incredible teacher—how could you ever learn if you already had it all figured out?

This goddess has another interesting attribute, which is, of course, her ride: a crocodile.

Crocodiles are interesting in two ways: Firstly, Stoneberg explains that the crocodile represents our reptilian brain, which is where we feel fear. Secondly, the predatory power of a crocodile is not located in their huge jaws, but rather that they pluck their prey from the banks of the river, take it into the water, and spin it until it is disoriented. They whirl that prey like a dervish seeking God, they use the power of spin rather than brute force to feed themselves.

By riding on this spinning, predatory, fearsome creature, Akhilanda refuses to reject her fear, nor does she let it control her. She rides on it. She gets on this animal that lives inside the river, inside the flow. She takes her fear down to the river and uses its power to navigate the waves, and spins in the never not broken water. Akhilanda shows us that this is beautiful. Stoneberg writes:

Akhilanda is also sometimes described in our lineage like a spinning, multi-faceted prism. Imagine the Hope Diamond twirling in a bright, clear light. The light pouring through the beveled cuts of the diamond would create a whirling rainbow of color. The diamond is whole and complete and BECAUSE it’s fractured, it creates more diverse beauty. Its form is a spectrum of whirling color.

Photo: Justin Graham

That means that this feeling of confusion and brokenness that every human has felt at some time or another in our lives is a source of beauty and colour and new reflections and possibilities.

If everything remained the same, if we walked along the same path down to the river every day until there was a groove there (as we do; in Sanskrit this is called Samskara, habits or even “some scars”), this routine would become so limited, so toxic to us that, well, the crocs would catch on, and we’d get plucked from the banks, spun and eaten.

So now is the time, this time of confusion and brokenness and fear and sadness, to get up on that fear, ride it down to the river, dip into the waves, and let yourself break. Become a prism.

All the places where you’ve shattered can now reflect light and colour where there was none. Now is the time to become something new, to choose a new whole.

But remember Akhilanda’s lesson: even that new whole, that new, colourful, amazing groove that we create is an illusion. It means nothing unless we can keep on breaking apart and putting ourselves together again as many times as we need to.

We are already “never not broken.” We were never a consistent, limited whole. In our brokenness, we are unlimited.

And that means we are amazing.

About Julie JC Peters

Julie (JC) Peters has been practicing yoga on and off from the tender age of 12, and it has gotten her through everything from the horrors of teenagedom to a Master’s degree in Canadian Poetry. She is a yoga teacher, spoken word poet, and writer, and teaches workshops on yoga and writing called Creative Flow. Julie also owns East Side Yoga in Vancouver with her mom, Jane.

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316 Responses to “Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea. ~ Julie (JC) Peters”

  1. Excellent article. And, who can't relate with this today??? Love it. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. [...] Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea. ~ Julie JC Peters. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. [...]

  3. You're giving me hope, such a beautiful article! Thank you for this

  4. [...] times, I came home on a Friday evening in tears and I had literally crawled onto the couch and hid under my favourite woolen blanket for the rest of the weekend wondering why I should try and persevere, when the odds were piled [...]

  5. Stephanie says:

    This is a new perspective for me. I like the powerful emotional stability that it brings on such troubled times. Perhaps we can substitute the comfy padded bedheads with the pile stuff.

  6. [...] Anava Mala wraps us in feelings of unworthiness. It’s what makes me flinch when I can’t kick in to handstand, when I say, or do or type the wrong thing. It tells me I’m fat, and stupid and not good enough. It makes me ashamed of my body. And puts me in a broken pile on the bathroom floor. [...]

  7. [...] I believe that one of the most profound things a human can do and model to others is to acknowledge and consciously work with their fears, limitations and personal wounds. [...]

  8. careyana says:

    love love LOVE your writing and lessons! beautifull share and extension of yur practice into writing! thank yoU!

  9. [...] He was broken and I was going to fix him. [...]

  10. [...] I love “love,” don’t get me wrong. I’ve spent my life grasping for it. More often than not, I ended up broken. [...]

  11. [...] read this great post this week called Why lying broken in a pile on your bedroom floor is a good idea. It talked about how when you are going through a transition like a breakup or a losing your job [...]

  12. Honey Gupta says:

    I am gonna give it a try…see if that works!!!!

  13. [...] Wrong. This leads us to a beautiful truth about human beings: we are all in pain. [...]

  14. [...] not so much more beautiful in the untouched, uncharted areas of life? Who is to blame when I find my heart scattered in pieces all over the floor? Can I blame you, or you and perhaps [...]

  15. [...] It started with the last I woke up in a jail cell, again, not knowing how I’d gotten there. I was broken. I’d been broken in life before but this was different. This was despair, depression, emptiness, [...]

  16. [...] Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea. ~ Julie (JC) Peters [...]

  17. [...] And I fully and completely pouted and sobbed and wailed for every last second of those 48 hours. I didn’t do anything else. When my friends tried to get me to calm down, I refused. I told them that the universe told me to. [...]

  18. [...] tell people that, I think it’s a beautiful idea, really. To be human is to be imperfect. I want you to cry and feel weak and scared and hopeless (okay, I don’t really want you to, but if that’s where you are I want you to have permission to [...]

  19. Saman says:

    It's scary how precise your description of that feeling is articulated. That "feeling" was the hardest part of my life, but it also is the reason that I met the woman of my dreams.

  20. [...] Realize that you will never get your shit completely together, and that’s okay [...]

  21. pantera says:

    Having just gotten off my floor where I was lying in a heap next to my laundry after realizing I need to quit my job for my health even though I have no plan for a safe place to land…. this was remarkable to read.

  22. [...] read a beautiful article last week through elephant journal: “Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea.” The author explores [...]

  23. Creatine says:

    Hello Julie. Very interesting post. it makes me wonder about starting practice :) Regards

  24. [...] rather sad. And in this pity party for one, self-confidence is the killjoy. I just finished reading why being broken is a good thing and while the concept is novel enough to almost inspire tears, it’s painfully brutal to [...]

  25. [...] there were times I needed to just wallow in my suffering, there were other times I needed to stay busy and distracted. I got lost in projects which helped [...]

  26. [...] give me messy. Give me rule-breakers. Give me spontaneity and joy and impulse. Give me all the mistakes and [...]

  27. [...] 5. Because you are me. Because we are connected. Because once upon a time on another plane, you & I were one and decided to teach one other. We agreed to hurt, to be hurt. We planned the exact cracks. Perhaps we have done this many times before in other lifetimes, as siblings, as parent-child, and yes, maybe, even as lovers. Because you are me, I will not blame. I will not begrudge either of us, the collective we. And I won’t begrudge you all that time I spent curled up in a ball on the floor. [...]

  28. [...] I have found much insight and comfort from thinking about what Julie (JC) Peters has written here. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Bookmark the [...]

  29. [...] there around me, I wasn’t sure I could ward off giving in. I felt baaaaaaad. Exhausted. Over it— “it” being, well, everything. My week of 5:30 a.m. toddler wake ups was killing me. I felt saturated; I felt like I was [...]

  30. Nathan says:

    Julie, your hot. I dont mean that in the physical sense… well.. anyway. Thank you.

  31. [...] read a beautiful article last week through elephant journal: “Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea.” The author explores [...]

  32. Josh says:

    Wonderful!

  33. Renee Picard smallgrl says:

    It feels right in my heart to move out of the toxic patterns and away from the relationship that I thought I wanted. It is hard and sometimes I feel broken and confused and scattered. But deep down that I know that it is OK, that something new and wonderful will come if I am bold in this brokenness. Thank you for reminding me that it is a beautiful thing.

  34. jodeen revere says:

    Thank you so dearly for this. I cannot tell you how much I needed to read this right now as I lay broken in a pile doing my best to breath into it.

  35. [...] what I’ve done without blaming myself. I’m not very good at that. The reasons for my cheating: my fractured soul, my anger, and my ignorance, offer little solace when I consider the people I’ve hurt. But even [...]

  36. [...] can be an incredible teacher—how could you ever learn if you already had it all figured out? [Elephant Journal, June 1, 2011] So this time around, during my dark night, I’m going to embrace it, live in it, and emerge [...]

  37. Karlena says:

    Always thought of myself as a prism of light … This solidifies my belief! Here's to the breaking and unbreaking of goddesses across the globe <3

  38. [...] There are many, many posts that deal with getting up eight times after falling down seven. But sooner or later, it’s bound to come together. A plan gets well-executed. The wild card comes through. The pass is completed. The heist succeeds. The good guy gets the girl and for just one fleeting moment, all seems well and right in the world. [...]

  39. lorna says:

    I am on a heap on sitting room floor at present when my friend sent me this & I totally get it after being here before in a different guise…….however…………I am in the space where I cannot just grasp this but thank you for it. Blessings. xx

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