As I work to clear away residual pain, as new triggers appear and I feel and face and release what was, I find myself wanting to connect ever more deeply to my body. I realize I’m missing my daily yoga practice again, after years of just practicing once in awhile or incorporating certain poses before and after every workout.
For so long, my yoga mat was a safe haven for me. A wonderful place to connect to myself and move with joy. Yet once life cracked me open and all the ACoA realizations kicked in, I found my yoga mat to be too much of a mirror. Too much of my truth. Too much of my pain. Too much of feeling disconnected from my body. I’d start practice after practice and just cry. The same thing happened to me with my regular runs and training for races. I’d lace up my shoes and cry. The places that had once been a solace and a safe place to think deeply were exactly what I didn’t want while facing that much pain and the giant task of healing. I didn’t want silence and thinking. I needed all-consuming brain and body action. So I started rock climbing. And I’m so glad I did. . The “must be very present or I will die” nature of rock climbing meant that my brain and my body were so busy I didn’t have a free moment to think or hurt or worry or wonder. About my dying step-father (cirrhosis of the liver; talk about re-traumatization given my mother died the same way 20 years earlier), about my marriage ending, about the financial woes these two situations created. Climbing allowed me to simply be present to what was. I’d climb at the gym or outdoors and hours would pass before I even thought about all that was going on in my life. It was exactly what I needed. And I’m so glad I now climb.
But I’m ready, anew, for my silent practices. The ones that allow me to think big and be silent and move with joy. I take that as a very good sign.
One of the very first philosophies of yoga that really rang true for me all those years ago when I first started practicing Ashtanga in San Diego, was the idea of non-attachment. Not simply non-attachment to material/physical things, but non-attachment to outcomes. Find a way to be present in your life, in a yoga pose, in a particular situation, without clinging to a result. Without needing it all to go a certain way.
As a lifelong builder of businesses, that’s sheer madness. I live to deliver results. I’m really upset when I don’t. And it’s a little funky to think about in every day life, too. How to go about your day, your interactions, your workout, your work, your chosen competitive sport, without placing expectations on outcomes?
This concept of non-attachment is mentioned in the Bhagavad Gita: “Let your concern be with the action alone, and never with the fruits of the action.” It all sounds lovely until you realize that we are wired to do a set amount of actions to get a specific result. Do the work, get the reward. Make the plans, watch them pay off.
As I navigate some tricky bits in life these past many months and find myself frustrated that the outcomes I’m attached to aren’t happening, I’ve been reminded of this tenant of yoga again and again. I know the way through is to surrender my attachments. Surrender, surrender, surrender and simply focus on doing the “action” as well as I can and leave the rest alone. (Ah, but so much easier said than done!)
Thinking a lot lately about our sense of self-worth and what we allow because of that self-worth. We received so many messages when we were younger about what was “ok” in a home, in communication, in a family. We lived through intense things and had to develop defense mechanisms to survive those things. But those same survival tools no longer apply. We get to choose how we live. We get to choose what we will allow. We get to walk away from anything that isn’t what we want.
The tricky part as ACoAs, is that our internal barometer for what we should allow and what “ok” or “good” looks like is askew. When you spend your first 18 years living in a home of secrets and shame and lies and anger, that can start to feel familiar. And without realizing it, we can choose similar situations in our adult lives. In our work, in our relationships, in how we treat ourselves, in how we conduct ourselves.
I’ve known all this for years, but I’m only recently realizing fully just how much what you think you deserve is what you settle for, is what you allow. And so the very first thing to be done — the most important work of your life — is to realize you are magic. To do the inner work to see if you really do know you are magic and then to see all the ways you’ve chosen not magic. This is it. This is the work. Because once you know you are magic – really know it and treat yourself accordingly – everything else becomes clear.