There is a wisdom within us that is more powerful than our despair.
– Rolf Gates, in Meditations from the Mat
I woke up at 2:30 this morning worried about a project at work. I’m struggling to get the resources, and one of the resources is time. There’s not much I can do about that. I wrestled with it over and over until I finally got up. I tried to do a meditation, but my mind kept latching on to the frustrations of work, my body longing for the solution to come so I could go back to sleep. What I know is that there is not always a solution. Sometimes, I have to just go with what I’ve got and make do.
This struggle with the brain seeking some kind of completion drives me nuts. In my body, I know that each day is what it is, and I can only do what I can do. But my mind believes that there has to be some “solution” even if it is forced, or it cannot rest. For most of my life, I let my brain control my dreams, desires and activities. I thought the answers to thriving were in my education, my work experiences, and my relationships. Life was a thinking woman’s game, and I was good at it. Along the way, I had some experiences that brought me to the realization that my brain was leading me to a desert. Yes, it all made perfect sense and looked good, but there was no heart in any of it.
It was not until I started to turn inward that I finally found God, and with that discovery, I found my soul. I credit yoga for starting that journey inward because it forced me to find my breath and be in my body instead of in my head. There were lots of other tools and programs and people that helped me continue my spiritual journey, but realizing that there is wisdom in my body turned it all around for me. On my yoga mat, in the silence, I could finally hear my body speak. It doesn’t speak in words, it speaks in bursts of knowing that feel to me like some kind of inner opening. All of a sudden, the idea is there that solves the puzzle. All of a sudden, I let go of an outcome. All of a sudden, a person pops into my mind that holds the answer. I just have to let go of my brain and be still to hear it.
When I was in an abusive relationship, I started prematurely going into peri-menopause. I didn’t know it was premature. I thought I was going down that path for my normal course. A week after ending that relationship, my symptoms started to cease. I started sleeping. My anxiety decreased. My cycles resumed in a normal manner and stayed that way for several years. I believe my body was wise enough to realize that this was not an environment conducive to having babies. My reproductive system closed shop. I’ve heard of this happening with several other women I know. Our bodies are wise, and they know better than we do at times. It took awhile for my brain to understand.
Through my yoga practice, especially if I’m doing it regularly, I can tell where my body is holding on. When my hips are tight, I’m usually holding on to something that needs to be surrendered. Hips are foundational, and are also the seat of feminine energy. It is where I hold resentments and anger. It is also where I hold disappointment about myself. It’s where I hold my power, and, if I’m shackled up there, my personal power is bound. When my chest is tight, I’m usually in the midst of protecting my heart from something. My body will close in upon itself when my heart is in danger regardless of whether I’m aware of it intellectually. Sometimes at night I dream about a certain yoga pose. If I’m not doing it in my practice, I follow my sleeping brain’s leading and practice it. There’s always some wisdom there for me.
My niece Hannah won a significant Communications competition last weekend. My sister and I were texting about it and the fact that our family is full of good writers and communicators. It’s not something we were taught. I think we were born with it. It’s odd because you would think a skill like that would come from education or practice. I believe that our bodies hold generational wisdom that is passed down from our ancestors. We don’t have to consciously act on it; it will surface on its own. I imagine somewhere in our ancestry are stone-agers who were storytellers in cave drawings. A great-, great-, great-, great-, great-grandmother knew how to spin a tale. And, as the years have gone by and the world has changed, the ability that lives within our genes adapts to the technology and systems that exist. We just have to choose to use it to tap into it.
My hard-headedness and belief system squelched my body’s wisdom when I was younger. I didn’t listen. I knew better. And to be kind to myself, I had no idea that it was important to listen to my body. It was an injury sustained from carrying too much on my shoulders – an analogy that is not lost on me – that brought me to yoga. I remember its first powerful impacts and how I was drawn to it like a new lover. I couldn’t get enough. I was hungry for it in a way that I’d never been for any kind of exercise. It wasn’t the yoga that was so divine, it was the coming home to myself.