How I Engage: Navel Gazing or Navel Hazing?
When I think of navel gazing, I contract my belly. Somehow, looking too far in is a signal I need to look out; I deprecate myself for wanting to understand. I forget what I was looking at and get stuck on the fact that I am looking. But sometimes we all need to do this, dwell a while in our introspective nature.
This is different than hazing my navel, getting stuck in a fog of judgment, beating myself up for beating myself up. Sometimes I am caught in a pattern of repetitive thoughts or have a feeling that is so overwhelming I embed it to keep what wants to open like a geyser from shooting out into the world.
How I engage my navel, so to speak, reflects my degree of serenity. Chances are, how I do this is my way of simply dealing with what life deals me. My goal in any situation is to recognize that victim mentality is default mode. After all, as a child we are born victims. We are at the mercy of adults. The adult stands in her light and her shadow and takes responsibility. I always aim to take responsibility. This also means I am responsible for how I react and interact with my feelings and thoughts.
Feelings are energy
A lesson we learn in meditation, in yoga, in 12-step programs, is that we are not our thoughts or our feelings. We don’t need a reason to laugh so why do we need one to cry? Feelings, we have all heard, are not facts. They are energy. It is that simple.
I teach and practice yoga. I started aerobics because I wanted to exercise but I did not want to go in, any further. To some, yoga as exercise is all it is and to others, yoga as exercise is not yoga. In my view, every generation, every culture, takes what the experience of history offers and remakes it to suit the time and people.
For me, yoga is exercise, but it is not only exercise. Yoga is how I engage. Yoga is asana and yet yoga is so much more. What started as exercise and relaxation has become a tool for growth and awareness, an opportunity for sharing and a means to learn more.
Care was a four-letter word
My life used to revolve around how I hazed my navel; I could not look out. I was so caught up in patterns and unresolved feelings that care was a four-letter word. I analyzed every action, every Freudian slip, every thought and anything that resembled a feeling. I lived so far in I did not know my body was anything but a space I wanted to leave. I was trying to see all the patterns inside as if I were an animal I could dissect. I was not feeling my feelings. I could barely recognize them.
Those years were the foundation for my self–love. First I had to tear all I knew down before I could begin to plant the seeds that grow in me today. Self–love does not come naturally to most of us and it did not come naturally to me. I kept looking outside of myself when it is within me, the spark of light I taste when I can move my feelings, when I can be present with the energy that makes up who I am.
I know a number of people long to feel good about who they are. I know we have to look at self. All the years growing up in the chaos of my heart were not wasted. The confusion took its time in finding clarity.
Yoga as a practice
My life with yoga as a practice has lead me deeper into the world of feeling and energy by teaching ways to connect my body and mind, heart and spirit. The path has lead me to healers and teachers who continue to give me the tools I need to grow and learn how to be present in every moment. By learning to be in the body and by being in the body, I can connect to the heart, and insight rises.
Is it easy? Is it all clarity today? To be honest, I feel like I am learning to crawl. One day I get a sense of wellness and the next day, I don’t have anything familiar to hold onto when I try to balance. However, I don’t live in a nexus of negativity anymore. The negativity is not all gone but it does not rule the way it did when I was younger.
Sometimes, I have to crawl behind my bellybutton and gaze and too often I still haze my navel, caught in reflections making refractions. Usually I am only a fragment, like a sentence that is all subject and no verb and then to compensate, I become all verb and lose all perspective.
Grace holds me
I believe in grace; grace holds me even when I am folding in on myself. I keep trying. I keep practicing yoga by engaging awareness, even when it is like being socked with a fist in my gut. I may double over but eventually, I have to stand up.
We all need a healthy ego. We all need healthy boundaries. Sometimes, I get caught on the merry–go–round of my navel to find the way to my heart. On a good day, I may shed a few tears or relax into the joy of my heart.
On a great day, I don’t judge myself or anyone else.
Edie Lazenby is a full time yoga teacher, trained at City Fitness in Washington, DC, and Willow Street Yoga Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. I have been writing poetry since I was nine years old. Poetry is my first love and yoga continues to feed my heart. I write and teach because I love it. I tell my students: do it because you can. I believe in creating opportunity and in helping. I think faith is the most important gift of life, because when we lose everything else we still have that in our heart. I believe the natural state of being is happiness, or bliss, or Ananda. Life is a celebration. Poetry and yoga help me celebrate. My blog & website: www.edieyoga.wordpress.com
Editor: Kate Bartolotta
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