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Holding My Own Hand

Image: Leunig

Image: Leunig

Ever have those days where you feel like the rug has been pulled out from underneath you? Like you can see all the things that you 'need' to do, and rather than feeling on top of it, all you fee isl a sense of overwhelm, or anxiety? Because you can see Point A, where you are, and Point B, where you want to be, and in between is a big chasm, a dark, vast expanse, that, in the moment, seems impassable. I am living that at the moment. Creating a new studio with a three-week deadline. Suppliers not playing ball. Too many balls in the air (or maybe exactly enough balls, who knows!).

Physically, I find I hold a lot of that in the front of my body. The part of me that faces the future, that is reaching for the moving-forward-ness. And that moving-forward-ness, that need for momentum, it becomes pathological. I start to get like, OK, if I keep moving, pacing the edge, forward and back, at least I am doing something, going somewhere. Anywhere. Even if it's really not energy well spent!! At these times, and only after many mini-breakdowns and minor tantrums, I have learned to slow down (often I need to be reminded that I have learned slow down, hehe, and I am forever grateful for the people in my life who do this, you know who you are). Those days when I feel overwhelmed and anxious, I have learned that the best course of action is to actually stop all action. Sometimes I set a timer and I just sit. Quietly. Five minutes, til I am at ease with what I am feeling, until the intensity subsides. Sometimes another five, if the feelings are still strong. Sometimes I keep going for half an hour, or longer. Today I took four hours out. To practice Yin. In my little yoga studio. Surrounded by people I love and admire. 

Once I stop, then I wait, and watch, and I almost laugh at what emerges in the space. Fear, anxiety, stress, guilt, dread...all of it. I don't make the feelings bad, I sit with them. Like I am holding my own hand through the experience, standing on the edge of the chasm, looking in, asking, 'are you OK? Can you breathe?' And then, when it gets a little less intense, 'OK, Tahns, how are we going to navigate this one?' And as I do that, my eyes adjust to the darkness, I see the footholds and the branches and the rocks that are going to support me on the way down, and I see the path to the other side, and it's not so scary. It's still a big journey, and it's still going to be dark in there at times, but it's less overwhelming. It becomes manageable. And then the momentum to move forward is powered with purpose, instead of panic.

Some days I just have to turn away from the chasm itself entirely and distract myself, do something else. It's too overwhelming, It can be a little bit like, "I am going to go over here and look at this leaf instead of deal with the situation at hand." Again, I've learned not to make this wrong, but I've found it interesting to approach myself with curiosity when I do this. What am I running away from? What illusion of security, safety in the distraction, am I attached to? My practice is to give myself permission to do this, before gently, kindly returning myself back to face the chasm. It's like, if you know you're going to go to the edge of a cliff, and you know you're scared of heights, you're going to take precautions to make yourself feel safe. Move a little closer, slowly. Breathe. Get calm. Move a little closer again. Etc. Same with the stress, the anxiety, the big problems in life, the new yoga studio, whatever. We don't need to tackle it, all or nothing. Rather, we can ask ourselves, how can I hold my own hand, get close to it, feel it, see that it's not so scary, that it's not truly going to hurt me to feel this. That feelings are literally just feelings...!!! It can be really hard and it can be really intense and it can be really beautiful. And as I keep holding my own hand, you know what? The feelings, beyond them, there is stillness. 

(Thanks to Ruby for helping me get these thought written down. Hope you're back on your rug!).

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