Wednesday, January 23, 2008

WoYoPracMo | 23 Days Yoga and Dharma Made All the Difference

Has it really been twenty-three days into January? Twenty-three days into daily yoga practice? The regular attendance at yoga classes this month means coming home late almost every night; this evening I had a Hotflow class and when I reached home, it was 9:30 pm.

Sometimes I have dinner, sometimes I don't. The odd thing is, I feel better eating less. Lighter. Stronger.

I am definitely feeling stronger this month, with the regular practice. I even came into an assisted Tripod Headstand this evening, and this is my first time doing it.

But I digress. I wanted to talk about something else that happened off the mat.

Last week I argued with someone whom I felt treated me unfairly. I have avoided the confrontation for a long time, but last week I did not feel like letting things go any longer. The negativity from that conflict seeped into my practice on Friday and the weekends. I would be in Plank Pose and suddenly I would be having that same argument in my mind. Anger and unhappiness reminds me of a tape set on loop. She wronged me. He betrayed me. -- We play the scripts over and over again, where we always stand as the victim. In our minds we plot revenge, we think badly of those that hurted us, we settle scores.

What a waste of time. Time is much better spent practicing yoga. Or reading. Or running. Or swimming. Or drawing. Or listening to music. Or writing in your journal.

Monday morning I was on my way to work and the negative thoughts started coming back. I felt the heat and discomfort in my chest and stomach arising from all that indignant energy. I felt maligned, and I wanted to be treated fairly by the other party. I didn't want to just let go. I wanted to stand up for myself. I wanted action.

Six years ago, conflicts like these usually set me down a spiral of self-destruction rage. I have difficulties controlling my fury and I would lash out at everyone in the office. But about five years ago I picked up a book by Thich Nhat Hanh called Anger. It led me to meditation, the dharma -- and indirectly to yoga.

The miracle is, this week is one of my better week at work. I believe, unconsciously I had channeled my indignant anger into problem-solving and motivation at work. My colleagues remarked I was "hyper" this week. They probably don't believe I was "rechannelling anger" into positive energy. But I was.

I have not felt so alive at work for a very long time. The truth is, by telling myself to avoid confrontations all these time, I was repressing the better part of myself.

I am an intense, passionate personality. That is who I am. Yet, because a long time ago, I lacked the stability to control these powerful emotions, I made a lot of mistakes -- some for which I can never make amends. I had become so afraid of my own intensity that I smothered it. I was so self-conscious about my bad temper that I suppressed my passions -- even moments when I should have spoken up, should have challenged unfairness.

But this week was different. I realise I wasn't lashing out at people randomly. Maybe I have mellowed, or maybe I have found a better way of dealing with the emotional flux within myself. The negative loop in the mind has finally stopped. I handled a few stressful situations at work in a rational, professional manner. I look at myself now and I wondered how I got here -- because if you have seen the emotional trainwreck I was so many years ago, you would be surprised too.

After all these years of yoga and the dharma, I still feel like myself -- the girl with the same insecurities and quirks. But sometimes -- sometimes something happens and I find myself responding differently. It would suddenly catch me -- the realisation that something within me had changed.

I know it is yoga and the dharma that made the difference. Yoga can heal your life. I have felt it personally, and I am grateful.


Heather said...

This was a wonderful and inspiring post! Thank you so much for sharing this personal part of your life with us.

Ana S. said...

I'm with Heather. Thanks for sharing. And it's good to know that you're dealing with things so well.

I know what you mean about Yoga. Did I ever mention how the urge to write first came to me in a Yoga class? It was many years ago. I was going through a period of destructive, powerful grief. Yoga was helping me, but I needed something else. Then, in the middle of a meditation in Yoga class, it came to me. An idea. A story. Something that would hold me together.

So, although indirectly, Yoga changed my life too. Which makes it all the more silly that I stopped practising. I need to go back.

LK said...

Good thoughts here, DO. I am really being pointed to yoga from various sources -- must get back to it. I will check out the Anger book, too.


Anonymous said...

I like the part "rechannelling anger" into positive energy. It is true that time is much better used doing things we like/enjoy, channel energy into doing more rewarding stuff.

I came upon the book "Anger" by Thich Nhat Hanh at the challenging stage of life. Am glad that over the years, through different channels, and also perhaps becos of age, have mellowed and response better in situations. Thought sometimes something might trigger in me but I feel that we can do better now with better knowledge. Underneath, I know I am still the very same girl I used to know. Perhaps and hopefully older and wiser now ; )

Less "bruises" in this walk of life. changes is good. have fun!

Iliana said...

Thank you for sharing this. I find it inspiring to hear how yoga has helped people in many different ways. I know for me it's helped me learn to calm down. I still struggle with anxiety/worry/etc. but I can definitely tell a difference from when I stop practicing yoga to when I start back up again. Congrats on doing your 23 days of practice.

Stefanie said...

What a wonderful post! Very inspiring.

darkorpheus said...

Heather Thank you for reading.

Nymeth I'm smiling at a similarity here: When I finally started feeling better, I also found myself returning to writing. I could not have written anything when I was a wreck. It's starting to get out of it that helped. I went back to a story I wrote back in 1998/99 -- and to see how the characters and the story evolved, made me see a bit of my own evolution too.

That's the power of storytelling - of creating something cohesive, of making sense of our lives through story, shaping it, framing it - so that it has a larger meaning.

Thank you for sharing this about yourself too.

Now tht exams are over, you will have some free time, yes? Might be nice to just try a few yoga classes.

LK Trust you to zero in on the one book reference! :)

Yoga doesn't really resolve the difficulties in life. What it does is to give us that breathing space needed to make our choices when things seem overwhelming.

I wish you the best on your practice, and that breathing space. Peace be with you.

quietletters Anger is just energy. That's one of the miracle of life, that anything can be transformed. I was so surprised myself.

Thich Nhat Hahn came at a time when I was "ready". If I wasn't so crushed by my emotions, I probably wouldn't have made much sense of his messages. Amazing, isn't it?

"Older and wiser" -- that's the question I ask myself every birthday. Am I any wiser? The thought that I am any wiser always makes me laugh. "Still human," is what I conclude. :)

Iliana If you can feel this positive effect yoga has, keep at your practice. The benefit is cumulative, and one day when you need strength desperately, you will realise how much emotional reserve you have truly stored up with your regular practice.

Stefanie Thank you. But it's an inspiring story with grammatical errors and typos! Argh! :)