Our bodies are wise teachers – when we learn to listen.
Yoga provides a space where you begin to notice the links between the mind and body. When you become quiet and still – like in a yoga class or in meditation, the turbulent waters of your daily life begin to calm and the reality of your life calls from the deep. This can be an intense emotional experience, which is both the gift and the challenge of a yoga practice. A gift because in order to reconcile and heal your loss, you must move through the painful centre of your grief. A challenge because it takes great courage to open up to your pain and suffering.
The message, from a yogic perspective is to feel what you feel. This can be the hard part.
Yoga is about paying conscious attention to your moment to moment experience. This means you notice what happens in both your mind and your body as emotion or memory arises in your practice. You notice when your breath catches in your throat or when your hold your breath. You notice what came first – a thought into your mind, or the holding of your breath. You notice how certain thoughts in your mind can create tension in your neck and shoulders as they creep up by your ears. You feel the hollowness in your chest. You notice how you fight back tears, against all odds, by creating more tension in your face, throat and even in your arms and legs – fighting and clenching around the possibility of letting yourself cry. You notice that lump in your throat that feels like it’s choking you.
Once you notice your internal reactions, you learn how to feel what you feel. Tuning into the feeling behind the feeling versus the story behind the feeling. Another way of explaining that is to notice the sensation behind the feeling. Sense what emotion feels like as it arises – for example, tightening of the throat – perhaps you feel your throat narrow and close, becoming strained and tense. As tears well up you feel the wetness, as well as a rush of heat, and an internal need for release. Perhaps you feel your thigh muscles tighten and your weigh move forward as if you want to run. You feel the feeling of having tightness in the shoulders or heaviness of the limbs – you feel the density and thickness of your stressed and tired body. Perhaps you feel the smooth, silkiness of your breath as you sigh and at the same time feel the jaw bone turn to putty and your eyes soften. Your body melting into tenderness.
When you feel what you feel you open your heart to your experience. Having a quiet mind, you don’t get caught in the mental loop of your story, you only notice the sensations of your experience as they arise and move through you. Surrender to what is. Be open to allowing the sensations of life to move through you.
With consistency and dedication to practicing this way, you learn more about yourself and your journey. Your body, mind and emotions begin communicating with you in a more subtle way – where you pay attention to the signals because you respect their wisdom. This opens up a whole new road of choice when it comes to mourning authentically and expressing your grief outside yourself.
It all begins with feeling what you feel.