Time to Shut the Hell Up. You know, Yogically.

Via Julie JC Peters
on Jul 28, 2011
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Julie (JC) Peters

So you know that feeling when everything has gone wrong and you are trying to figure your shit out and you are a yoga teacher so people kind of think you should have something figured out by now but you just don’t and your birthday is coming up and you are not where you thought you’d be this year (again) and you are trying to think of something valuable and interesting and intelligent to say and you’ve just got a whole big pile of nothing at all?

Well, I do.

So I thought I might try this thing where I shut up.

Well, I didn’t entirely shut up. I talked to my belly. I said okay belly. Tell me whats up. Tell me what you are thinking. Tell me everything so I can do something about it and fix things and make it all better so my heart will stop hurting so much and I can figure out how to be less of a human and more of a super hero and know what to do all the time and not feel so lost and confused okay tell me.

So I shut up (again) and listened. Guess what my belly said?

I just need time.

Time. Time to digest. To process everything that’s come in, everything that’s changed and got lost and hurt, the places where there are holes where certain hearts used to be, the the things I wanted to say, the things I shouldn’t have said, the nights I’ve trawled the thin silk threads of social networks to find something real, something warm. To separate the beauty and the nourishment from the shit. Time to listen.

And of course it was my belly that knew this. Don’t ever ask your heart any deep questions–it will tell you all kinds of things it wants, and it will tell you how deeply, with no regard for time, practicality, geography, or general rational intelligence. Your belly, though, has to deal with (filter, detoxify, process, eliminate) everything you go through. Your heart is wild and gorgeous and terrible. Your belly is a neural net of information, nervous responses, and memories. Your belly knows all your secrets.

And lately my belly has been full of life-destroying antibiotics. See, I’ve gotten strep throat now for the second time this season. My wise yogi friends got all up in my facebook and told me I should ask myself what I haven’t been saying, what truths have gotten half swallowed and stuck in my throat.

Some of these lovely yogis already know that, to quote Deb Shapiro, Your Body Speaks your Mind, and that when something hurts literally or physically, it mirrors something else that hurts. One of the emotional maps we use in yoga is the Chakra system, and the throat chakra is our centre of self expression–truth, lies, honesty, silence, and creative output. Often we think of needing to write or talk or confess something to clear this area, to clear the air. And sometimes it is.

But the chakras work the same way an open palm does–it is an offering, a giving away, a showing forth, but it requires the sweet and necessary possibility of receiving. We forget that it is really important to sometimes shut up and listen.

I’ve been thinking of a fallow field. After soil has nourished and brought up a certain number of crops, farmers will leave that soil for a period of time to let it regain its naturally fertile properties. Farmers will just leave it alone for a while. Just, you know, leave it alone.

So lately, I’ve been trying less to figure all my shit out (it’s hard). I’ve been trying to listen more when people talk, ask more questions, sit back, wait (it’s amazing what people will tell you if you just wait). I’ve been teaching in my classes that we are here not to change our bodies and tell ourselves how to heal, but to bow our crazy heads to our wild and gorgeous hearts and our infinitely wise guts and just listen. And I’ve been reading a lot of poetry, which I think helps.

So in the spirit of this listening, and the spirit of me having no idea about a damn thing, I’ll let Hafiz speak my last words for now. Well, technically it’s translator Daniel Ladinsky’s words, who is amazing and takes his liberties, so I’m going to go ahead and take mine with a little editing, and figure the two will forgive me for not entirely shutting up here.

The words stop
And you can endure the silence

That reveals your heart’s pain

Of emptiness
Or that great gut-wrenching-sweet longing,

That is the time to try and listen
To what your body

Most wants




Hafiz poems and excerpts are from Daniel Ladinsky’s  Penguin publications The Gift, Poems by Hafiz © copyright 1999, and I Heard God Laughing, Poems of Hope and Joy © copyright 1996 & 2006. Reprinted by permission of the author.




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.


19 Responses to “Time to Shut the Hell Up. You know, Yogically.”

  1. Hello Julie, well, WELL said. While reading your words, I can very much hear the voice of my belly saying the same: I just need some time. And, I LOVE separating the nourishment from the shit. Seriously, I haven't been moved like this from an ej article in a long time, if ever. You're speaking my language, girl! Peace, Love, ~T

  2. tanya lee markul says:

    Well written Julie. I LOVE this and I love how you ask your belly what is going on – trust your gut.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  3. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  4. Capital. That most challenging of rhetorical feats: eloquence on silence. I’ll shut up now.

  5. This is what I needed to read today. Because I sure haven't been listening to the people around me who have been trying to tell me the same thing. Thank you!

  6. elephantjournal says:

    Featured on our Front Page, now, too. http://www.elephantjournal.com

  7. sue says:

    are you living in my head? AND my birthday actually IS coming up. This is the best thing I've read on EJ so far. LOVE IT!!

  8. LOVE this! I am taking a course in Energy Work this semester (broad strokes…Polarity Therapy, Chakra Balancing, etc.) It is amazing to see the correlations between the physical body, the emotional self, the energetic body – and how if we listen they really do all work together. And how our bodies will tell us how we really feel when our minds don't want to listen. I will definitely check out Your Body Speaks Your Mind…thanks.

  9. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  10. […] Time to Shut the Hell Up. You know, Yogically. […]

  11. Ben_Ralston says:

    Beautiful post. And Hafiz, oh my heart sings.

    Julie – I used to get throat problems a lot. I went to see a great Ayurvedic doctor (in India) who gave me the vilest tasting mediciine (I puked a lot). He said: " You had dirty throat. No more problems now"
    I never had another throat problem since (12 yrs ago).

    Did you used to smoke? I did, and I think that had something to do with it. Maybe get your throat 'cleaned'? Just a thought.

    Thanks for the lovely piece, and good luck with the listening.


    ps – posting this now to EJ FB page.

  12. Viriam Kaur says:

    Thank-you Julie! Wise words, LOVE it! Om http://satnamyogini.blogspot.com

  13. Danka says:

    Well Julie the first very long sentence is all abt me except being yoga teacher (which i’m not) and it makes me laugh out loud 🙂
    Thx dear 🙂

  14. […] Time to Shut the Hell Up. You know, Yogically. […]

  15. Zali Nash says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely…well my belly says so!

  16. karlsaliter says:

    BEAUTIFUL! Stumbled on this from a sideways research project involving two midgets and some bounadry setting.

    Really, really great article, J.

  17. […] Time to Shut the Hell Up. You Know, Yogically. […]