We do our best as we go through life. We’re taught along the way either directly or indirectly how to manage our daily stress, major life events, and various degrees of trauma. At some point we may come to realize that the habits we’ve developed over time are no longer as useful as they once were and a conscious effort to change and grow is suddenly required. For many of us, however, we continue through life using the same distractions we passively adopted over time and then we wonder why the experiences we have seem to be on repeat.
While the previous post includes a fairly general overview of the healing journey, I think it’s worth it to dive much deeper into certain themes that tend to create the greatest challenges. In my work, the most significant support I am able to provide is guiding students towards the awareness, management, and acceptance of their own emotions. Once enough tools are adopted with practice and over time to achieve all three, the ability to respond and act in such a way that actually supports the individual’s growth and healing becomes much more accessible.
It’s important to note that seeking help from a mental health professional who is a good fit for you and your needs is always encouraged. There can be a great benefit to having a licensed professional support you on your journey towards mental health and healing. What I offer are additional tools to support you on that journey as we address together your physical, emotional, and spiritual health as well.
Through the practices of Yoga and Ayurveda we are taught that, in the most simplest terms available, the key to everything is balance. Whether it be through the balance of effort and ease, the grounding of our physical and energetic bodies, the balance of the natural elements within and around us, and even the idea of work-life balance opens the door to everything else we are looking to achieve. It could not be a more simple concept: A healthy balance within body, heart, mind, and spirit allows us to create more clearly, day by day, our best possible life whatever that may look like.
The first obstacle to this for most everyone is typically a lack of awareness. If we aren’t aware of our true feelings, feel the depths of our emotions, or see the habits we’ve adopted to distract us from them there isn’t going to be an awareness to change either. Your emotions are not the enemy and yet like many of us you fight, resist, and suppress them from your consciousness as if they were. Shame, guilt, fear, anger, insecurity, grief are all commonly avoided emotions in which we have learned over time to judge as “bad” or “wrong” but in truth are all part of being human. You are human.
As children we learn this early on when we were asked “What’s wrong?” whenever we were found crying or sad or upset. Inherent in the question is that something is “wrong” as opposed to an emotional reaction to something that could be explored, brought to the surface and discussed without judgment. We’re told “No, no…don’t cry,” or “I’ll give you something to cry about!” clearly teaching us that expressing emotions that make others uncomfortable (such as crying) are also not acceptable behaviors.
As we get older we adopt habits to continue this resistance or suppression and they can range from the socially acceptable to those we don’t dare let anyone see. If we think about it, things like going to happy hour to end a tough day, eating when not hungry, or spending money through retail therapy are all mild but common methods we may use to distract ourselves from whatever we don’t want to feel which is essentially covering up what’s going on underneath. Bringing full awareness to these patterns, especially when they go to an uncontrollable extreme such as in alcoholism, eating disorders, excessive gambling, overspending, etc., is one way to work backwards to uncover and explore the buried emotions that we haven’t allowed ourselves to see.
Once we’re able to identify our general habits we can continue the practices of Yoga, Ayurveda, and meditation to ground ourselves as we work to further reveal and process these feelings. Our emotions are not the enemy and yet we spend a lot of time thinking about them as if they are. We judge them for the discomfort, pain, and sadness they bring up and blame them for the way we react to them. This is where I encourage us to shift our perspective just enough to stop judging them as good or bad, right or wrong, just because they feel uncomfortable. Our emotions are neutral and they’re there to show us something about ourselves that we might not already see so don’t shoot the messenger. Learn instead to pay better attention and still yourself before reacting to them.
Through Ayurveda we learn to have a daily routine to help our body, mind, and spirit stay balanced as much as possible throughout the day, every day. Through Yoga we learn how to breathe through the discomfort of any given situation, to allow for the space to be in our bodies and develop the strength and resilience to fully experience whatever comes to the surface. Through meditation we learn to pay attention instead to the silence, the subtle pauses in between our breath, to calm the chaos inside of us so the chaos outside of us has no power. Rather than get swept away by that which surrounds us, we learn with practice, determination, and a commitment to ourselves, to focus on what we can control: our body, our mind, and how we respond to life without any attachments or expectations and especially without judgment.
Up until this point there can be lots of different interpretations to this whole concept of non-judgment, the practice of equanimity, and the idea that finding stillness can be as powerful as we are told. Somehow people hear these concepts and think this is the same as complacency, inaction, or passivity. On the contrary, these practices have the capacity for true freedom and self-empowerment especially if our intention is truly to be the best version of ourselves as we can be and live the best life that we can possibly live.
Having allowed for our deep rooted emotions to come to the surface we can begin to see ourselves much more clearly. Without wasting our energy, our time, and mental space on judging or even justifying those emotions we can work through their root causes and make peace with our past and ourselves. This acceptance of who and where we are can now allow us to make room for who we are meant to be and what we are meant to do from here on out.
It’s in this space that you begin to recognize your emotions as the way your body, heart, and spirit communicate with you what matters to you most on a deeper level. It’s in this space that you develop a much better connection with your own inner light of clear awareness that is your truth, steadfast and unchanging. It’s in this space that you learn to bypass the usual distractions when discomfort arises and instead use that as your motivation and drive to begin moving forward in a new direction. It’s in this space that you can explore a path that feels truly meant for you, possibly something bigger and greater than you can currently imagine. It’s in this space that you are ready to let go of your past while also using the lessons that it taught you to do better and be better every single day.
To truly believe in ourselves and our potential there is not one part of us that we can reject and still live our best lives. I encourage you to seek professional help if and when you ever feel hopeless or stuck in any way. I encourage you to invest your energy on that which supports you living your best life and not wasting one bit of it on anything that doesn’t serve you in that way. When you do, you may discover ways to uniquely be a light in this world for hope, for truth, for peace, for love, and for change.