July 27, 2011

Even Yoga Teachers Get the Blues

It is a not-so-secret part of my history that as a young(er) person, I suffered from depression.  And when I say depression, I am talking about the kind of incapacitating despair that made brushing my hair, or my teeth, seem pointless.

Not feeling inclined to brush my teeth was the least of it, actually.  I did stupid things.  I am fortunate to have survived.  It took a lot of support, a lot of therapy, a lot of time, a lot of drugs, and ultimately a lot of practice–a whole lot of practice–to rewire some seriously self-destructive tendencies.  It could have gone the other way.

It was a long time ago.

Yet, as a teacher, I still draw from that dark time.  As a teacher, the darkest parts of my history are my asset.  I get people who struggle with their darkness because I have struggled with my own darkness. I have hard won wisdom to offer.

This month has been a tough month.  I am more busy than is comfortable, pushing harder than ever before.  People expect things from me.  Just between you and me, high expectations freak me the fuck out.  Also, I’m dealing with some heavy stuff, like figuring out where I’m going to live.  As if that’s not enough, there’s been a major deadline hanging overhead.

Then, too, there’s been the heatwave that’s kept me out of the woods I normally run in, and a nasty injury that kills every time I bend my elbow–making asana practice painful.  Add the frenzied pace and the heavy crap to less movement than I am accustomed to, and the result is alarmingly but predictably blue.

A fistful of days without the structure I depend on sure can do one hell of a number on me.

And yet…

My practice has toughened me up.  I know what to do. Slow down without lying down.  Move–every day.  Go outdoors the minute I wake up.  Stand in the clearing in the woods just outside my back door.  Breathe in the morning.  Go outside every night.  Tilt back my head.  Take in the dark sky, and the moon.  Eat things that are alive.  No sugar.  Breathe.  Practice.  Practice.  Practice.

Old patterns are opportunistic.  They can still creep back in when my defenses are down.  I am not immune.  The difference is that now I have tools.  The difference is that I trust myself to use them.

I can stand in the dark while still refusing to be overcome by darkness.  I can stand in the dark while still choosing hope with every ounce of my being.

My practice has provided me with an inner compass.  I trust that I will find my way.  I am fall-on-my-knees grateful because I know that, while I may yet visit dark places, I won’t linger in them any longer than is absolutely necessary.

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