September 22, 2013

The Wild Beauty of Being Broken. ~ Alex Stone

In spiritual circles we hear people saying things like “the wound is where the light gets in”—speaking as though they have spoken a great wisdom and to those in the know, they probably have.

But for most people this kind of spiritual rhetoric means little and often the people peppering the phrases about don’t understand what they are saying either. This cod spiritual rhetoric is entering into the everyday lexicon of language, splattered across memes—Twitter feeds—Facebook sites—used as though they were tubes of vitamin C (I stole that line from Julian Barnes).

Oh look, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, there are many worse things in life, but if the prolific use of these incredibly powerful life teachings result in a desensitization to their deeper meaning then what’s the point? How is it helping someone who is suffering?

Many people do not rise like the proverbial Phoenix from the ashes of emotional wounds, they carry these wounds with them, exposing them through drinking,  drugs, sadness, depression and anger. Most in reactive non mindful ways.

Those who do make it to the yoga mat or meditation find they cannot sit still and they want to run from the great gulf of silence that exposes their gaping, sobbing, emotional wound. The light seems very far away and it looks like we cannot get in, yet there is a way though and we will not find it in a meme.

When my heart was broken, I spoke about it to another yoga teacher who expressed her sorrow for me. I gratefully received and then replied that really there was no need because I didn’t mind having my heart broken. Her eyes widened. She said it was the first time she had ever heard anyone say such a thing and then she inevitably asked why and the better question ‘How’?

There is no one size fits all to healing and to try and bite size such an undertaking into eight steps is admittedly a little absurd but here goes.

As a survivor of the relationship wars I have learned a few things about handling a broken heart, perhaps you would permit me to impart some of that hard won wisdom today—this is how I let the light inside the wound.

1) Befriending emotion.

I began by feeling everything, sitting quiet, I noticed where feelings manifested themselves in the body, placed a hand there and began to breathe into it. Once a day I would light a candle, sit and let these emotions wash over me. Telling myself ‘it’s okay to feel what I feel, anything that I feel is ok, is welcome.’

Once I gave the emotion space it widened, it wasn’t given opportunity to become constricted in the body, it expanded, it released and it passed, like everything else. This was not a linear process for me, I would sometimes have to revisit certain uncomfortable emotions but eventually they did release and left me in peace.

2) Using vulnerability.

To feel compassion for the suffering of others. We become more sensitive to the world, more present, vulnerable, receptive in the face of our own pain. One of the universal laws is that we feel a sweetness when we help others. I often went out of my way to help people on the underground, the destitute, friends.

There was a lady crying on a bus I was on. I sat next to her, gave her a hanky and just let her know she wasn’t alone. I turned this compassion back on myself; spoke softly, held myself gently and let the tears fall.

3) The mortality factor.

Not the most cheery on the list! What I mean is one day we’ll all look back at all of this craziness (if we’re lucky) and see it as a great and beautiful adventure, knowing that everything is part of the human experience, that no emotion is greater or more valued than another.

Meditation helped me gain a much wider objective perspective on this whole experience. Silence is the true ally of the broken.

4) Hitting the asana and breathing mindfully.

Asana and pranayama really help us get out of the mind space without blocking. Yoga is incredibly healing for the body, it moves around blockages of energy and teaches us awareness. There is no hiding from ourselves on the mat, we are forced to face the truth and the challenge is to love all the parts we think we don’t like.

There is magic in asana, trust it and let it unfold. Yoga has been like a second mother to me or like a nurse at my bedside, there whenever I need her.

5) Singing and mantra.

Hum, chant, whatever, tuneful vibration is healing for the body and has a deep comforting effect on the psyche. I love the Gayatri Mantra and Ra Ma Da Sa, love vibration mantra.

They helped keep this heart open. I use mantra daily, broken hearted or healed and whole. The mind is open to suggestion, I am careful about what I put inside it. Never underestimate the power of mantra.

6) Communicating with heart.

In my personal experience it opens when it is raw and hurt, no longer whispering but shouting, screaming—even! In the midst of one broken hearted storm I found my dharma – yoga teacher! At the very least we can begin the journey to self realization and grow in awareness during these times.

The only way I could communicate with heart was to sit quietly and be patient. Now the communication lines are always open and everything I do comes from Anahata.

7) Lucky Seven: Sleep!

I had to really make a commitment to get to bed before 11pm and get 8 hours sleep. I wanted to sleep less though, the body was stressed, I lost weight, some people are the total opposite. Either way, both responses are signs of a burnt out nervous system. To help me get the deep rest I needed I practiced Yoga Nidra, the conscious sleep. This one became non-negotiable—after learning the hard way.

8) Last but not least—write— get it all out the chattering mind.

Surprising what’s in there, getting it all out helps clarify things, very cathartic. Then later, perhaps, you too can use your wanderings in words to let others know that they are not alone, that a broken heart can be a wild and beautiful blessing …

Wild Place

Wet heart soaked with the promised breath of summer skies
Unfurling gently
A chanting medley
Of wishes, hopes and dreams
This big wet heart drumming folk songs in shy ears
‘To the forest’ it calls, ‘to the wild, once more!’

Flowing streams of tiny tears weeping softly
Crystallizing a map of star like scars across the wilderness of this heart
Dusty deserted bowls of sand
Filling with water,
Awaiting return of the prodigal daughter.

‘To the forest’ it calls, ‘to the wild, once more!’
Away to the quiet place
The silent space
Where words have no meaning
And books have no standing
This is the wild, secret forest of the heart.




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Assistant Editor: Leace Hughes/Ed: Bryonie Wise

Photo’s: Vaya Sigmas

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