April 15, 2012

“Love Is Where We End Up.” Yoga for a Broken Heart with Seane Corn.

I didn’t expect to come out of a class on brokenness feeling uplifted.

I expected to come out of it a teary mess. Out of all of the classes at Yoga Journal, I was looking forward to this class the most, and at the same I was nervous about it. Seane started the class by having all of us scoot up off of our mats and come in close so we could talk for awhile. She started by sharing the most significant heart traumas she had experienced: her father’s death, her teacher’s death, her cat’s death, the break-up of a significant relationship…and the one I instantly felt connection with, was simply an experience when a helium balloon she had popped as a child.

She talked about the experience of being so enthralled with this balloon she had been given at about six or eight-years-old, only to have it pop on some prickers as she played. I know that kind of loss, it’s that simple raw grief that we have over things as children before we start trying to bargain with things that hurt us. We feel it all, deeply, and don’t have the social mechanisms in place to brush it off our deny it.

But we moved on to others from the class sharing things they were grieving. Some burst out with it, some you could see shifting their weight from side to side, weighing the decision to share or not.  I listened, but part of me stayed with that story of the balloon. All the hurts we go through, all of our grief matters. How we process it, or refuse to process it, affects whether we let ourselves allow love in. I sat and played observer, half of the participants who shared, half of my own mental checklist of hurts:

“Yes, I remember that one. Nope, that doesn’t hurt any more. I don’t know what to think about that one, it’s too fresh. This one’s too small, I shouldn’t still care about it.”

But we do. We have to look at where we’re broken and deal with it. Not to smooth things over and be fixed, but to truly be able to allow love in. As Seane said, “You have to go through the ‘f*ck you’ to get to the ‘bless you.'” If we just smooth things over and don’t go through the anger and the tears and all of it—for real—we can’t to get through to the place where we can give and receive love.

We moved back to our mats and into our asana portion of the class—a few sun salutations to begin and then hip and heart openers. When I tried to ease back into Camel pose, that’s where it hit me. My heart said no. I don’t want to. I don’t want to let you do this. I consider myself a fairly open hearted person, but it’s been a difficult year.

As I leaned backwards and lowered my hands towards my ankles, my body said no. I don’t want to do this any more. So I stayed there, as far as my ripped-up heart would let me go. I remembered a day as a child, fighting with my brother and my mother taking his side. I remembered just lying on my bed sobbing. And I got it (for today anyway). There’s no hierarchy for pain, it’s all in there, and we need to look at all of it.

Love and grief are our oceans. They aren’t opposites. The grief is an ebb and flow that continues through our lives. It comes up, and if we dam that ocean off, we shut love out too. We need to go through it, all the f*cked up tears and anger—all of it—to get to the love. I had a few tears as I realized this, but left hopeful. I loved all of Seane’s stories about her dad and his illness and passing. It was beautiful to witness the other participants in their various stages of grief.

But this is is what I kept, and what left me full of hope, “Love is always where we end up.” We don’t wade through all the sh*t of anger, sadness and grief to just be empty. We get through it to allow the love in.

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