December 3, 2013

How We Rise Up from Rock Bottom.

What was the low point of your year? How did you rise up, heal and move forward?

Although I had a generally positive year, life always brings both light and darkness, sadness in contrast to joy.

Suffering is an inevitable part of life. But so is happiness. Everything is changing all the time.

Without doubt, the low point of my year was at the end of July, when my then six-month-old baby fell ill. The moment when it sunk in—we would have to hospitalize her—that was my low. I was so full of fear, guilt, upset. (Here’s the full story.)

I rose up gradually from that low, that personal “rock bottom.” I rose up naturally, because that’s what happens after you reach rock bottom.

She got well quickly. We moved on with our lives and travels. We came home to the lake in Guatemala.

Rock bottom or not, lows are a fact of life. Depression comes and goes for everyone, but when depression gets overwhelming, we need to seek help through therapy and possibly medication. As a former sufferer of “clinical” depression, I advocate the short-term (as in, not lifelong) use of antidepressants when someone is really deep in depression.

Whenever you’re feeling down, hopeless or listless, how do you go about rising up, shaking the dust and moving on?

I rise up when I practice yoga regularly.

I rise up when I communicate and express myself.

I rise up when I give myself space for the right mix of action and relaxation, social time and privacy, yin and yang.

I rise up with the help of my friend, meditation. (Plus my other preferred versions of mindfulness these days: writing, playing and hiking.)

I rise up with the support of my community, far and near.

I rise up with gratitude, kindness and compassion.

How do you rise up?

#reverb13 is a means to reflect on the year that has passed and set intentions for the coming year. For the first two weeks of December, I’ll post a daily writing prompt. You are invited to participate, as privately or publicly as you wish. To share what you’ve written, add a comment. 


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valturner Dec 4, 2013 5:25am

The lowest point of my year was awakening in the middle of the night, just a few weeks ago, to find my 10 year old son having a partial complex seizure. Writing these words brings me another low. Having been down this road with my two older children, I can only add that this seizure plants one more seed of deep sadness in my heart.

The healing is in the pain that swells up as I bear witness to my child having a seizure, knowing that I can’t take this away.

My heart stretches.

“You must make your heart so big it could hold a horse race inside it,” one of my teachers said recently.

My heart can hold a hurricane.

Kristy Dec 4, 2013 1:10am

Ahh funny, this was my personal homework for the week…looking at what really helps me when I’ll down/anxious. Well so, everything from the last few posts link up …. I was living in Vancouver, I was stressed to the point of utter breakdown (work, past trauma/anxiety, not connecting with my city well, and then got into a car accident leaving me in constant, terrible pain). I was crumpled on the floor bawling by the end of each day. I was barely sleeping 2 hours a night. Everything was very…dark. I could no longer work, and was thus quickly losing the ability to pay my living expenses. *Enter the world and it’s message of wisdom: “Life is not working for you here”* … I almost gave in to defeat and moved back East where my family is, but my love for the West Coast had me grasping for any last hopes. So I asked around, i talked to everyone I knew who might have a key… *Enter friend with place for me to move to in Victoria* … If I haven’t said it already, it was a leap of faith, albeit a desperate one, and it worked. By now, I’d determined yoga was the only think that gave me relief…I started stretching EVERYWHERE I went…bus stops, top decks of ferries, hot springs, and most commonly in my living room. I’d exhausted all my career options due to physical limitations and inability to cope with stress. Well, wouldn’t teaching yoga be a good fit then? Done. I rolled up my sleeves, moved to Vic, put myself out there, did a lot of yoga, enrolled in teacher training, started counseling, massage therapy, got some meds for emergencies on the worst of days to get me through, made conscious attempts to start to employ healthy routines in my life, put in effort where I could to get involved in the community, and what do you know, made tons of great friends and connections!

So what lifts me up?

Passion: for life, for oceans and mountains, the West Coast and all its air and outdoor space, for big ideas, for a healthy and happy life- both mind and body.

Hope: for healing, for love, for making a better world, for a future family.

Activity: creating art and magic through it, yoga, swimming, laughing with friends, learning more more more, sharing our wisdom, cuddling, kissing, dancing…! Engage the senses baby, that’s why they’re there!

An ideal quote to finish off: “I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable” – Joseph Addison

suyataru Dec 4, 2013 12:18am

My low point of the year was definitely the realization that I was deeply in love with someone who both consciously and unconsciously had been hurting me throughout our relationship. And in some ways, even more painful was realizing that I had stayed and let it continue…the proverbial frog in a slowly simmering pot.

Of course he is essentially a good and perfectly imperfect person in a state of becoming, as am I, and there were good reasons to stay. At the same time, I had to admit that finally, approaching middle age, I had just been initiated into a kind of club. I was picking up that essential and humbling lesson about love about how much hurt and sacrifice is too much, even for love. How much repeatedly yielding to another's needs at the expense of your own can leave you shrunken and questioning everything you know about yourself. How a relationship out of balance will ultimately create individuals out of balance, no matter how strong and centered you were at the beginning. I finally felt that dirty kind of heartbreak that makes you wonder if the love had ever been real at all. I had my first real taste of hatred, and it woke me up.

I rose with the simultaneous realisation that this was an immense opportunity for release, realignment and growth. There was a witness looking down upon the puddle on the floor that was me that saw this experience's place in the grand story of my life, a story so all encompassing and yet so insignificant in the cosmos. That witness held my hand throughout. She knew that it was temporary, and that the less I resisted all the discomfort, the sooner it would pass, the sooner I would rise. This perspective did nothing to ease the pain but gave me courage to sit with it, and look around while I was there. I knew I needed to make clear note of this place if I wanted to avoid coming back to this very place again. I needed to open my eyes and heart to it, despite the sting.

I rose first by accepting what was, and realising that no matter the pain, it was as it should be.

I rose with the vulnerability that allowed me to reach out to the immense love, acceptance and generosity of my community.

I rose through honesty, a painful unravelling of lies and through gratitude for the experience and opportunity.

I rose by rekindling my voice, my inner voice and my singing voice…and through music and dance.

I rose by recognizing that I would rise and fall along the way and rise again…and remembered (mostly) to not lose heart.

I rose through seeking to understand and through forgiveness.

I continue to rise through revisiting many of the sacred teachings on kindness and compassion that have so often nourished my soul.

I rise through my yoga practice and exceptionally giving teachers, through meditation and writing…alot of writing!

I rise through the joy and purpose of being a mom to a one of a kind kid.

I rise with the recognition of the infinite beauty of leaves turning to their autumn hues.

I rise by visiting the ocean and honouring the moon, both so powerful and perfectly unencumbered by my troubles.

And I rest.

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Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a heart-centered writer, teacher and creator of Yoga Freedom. She has been a columnist on Elephant Journal since 2010 and has self-published inspiring books. She incorporates dharma, hatha, yin, mindfulness, chakras, chanting, and pranayama into her teachings and practice. A former advertising copywriter and elementary school teacher, she is now a freelance writer and translator. Michelle learned yoga from a book at age 12 and started teaching at 22. She met the Buddha in California at 23 and has been a student of the dharma ever since. Michelle is now approaching her forties with grace and gratitude.

Join Michelle for a writing and yoga retreat this summer at magical Lake Atitlan in the western highlands of Guatemala!