This post might be kind of self-indulgent and meta, so apologies upfront. Feel free to skip if you're less into my daily journal ; )
This week was what we'd call a blackout. There's this idea in yoga (and in every spiritual tradition; we all just use different words, but we'll get to that later) of being on the path of enlightenment, right? As you are increasingly enlightened, there is an awakening that is occurring. You begin to wake up to the patterns and habits that are harming you, and you begin to change them as your awareness opens up. It's lovely.
Sometimes you fall asleep. You doze off for a minute and get impatient with someone or indulge in some other harmful thought pattern, going off on your spouse or kid or coworker. It happens. It's okay. Usually the negative consequences of dozing off wake you back up, and you fix the stuff.
Then there are times when you just straight-up pass out. There is no warning and no coming to again, even when people are slapping your face and yelling at you, because you are just out for the count. That's a blackout. That was my week.
Last week, I taught a class focusing on releasing inner anger and finding forgiveness and healing and all that beautiful junk. It was wonderful, and I went to bed feeling all smiley. When I woke up, I was a monster rage machine. The first day, I mostly just indulged in every unhealthy ragey thought pattern in my book without a look back. By day three, I was starting to get alarmed and very upset with myself--how could I be acting like this?? Where was all my zen master garbage I'd been spewing? Was everything a lie?? Why couldn't I get a grip?
Then I remembered the concept of taking on what your students release, which is kind of the point of being a teacher. A seasoned teacher who's progressed in his or her personal practice to the point where a large majority of personal issues has been resolved won't notice much of an effect, if any, but I'm a baby teacher. I didn't prepare to receive everybody's anger, which is not a mistake I will repeat. Once I realized where all of this could be coming from, I was a little less freaked out, but I was still angry. A lot. I couldn't seem to shake my ridiculous behavior. I felt really hypocritical.
Finally, on Monday night, my sister-in-law taught her first yoga class in a 10-week series on filling our bodies with light--in other words, yoga through a Jesus lens (my family is getting so hippie, and I love it). I didn't want to go because I was grouchy, but then I remembered that I'd be away from my kids for two hours, and I sprinted to the car. As I settled onto my mat and tried not to berate myself for showing up 10 minutes late, the Spirit distinctly said to me that this was where I needed to be, and that if I listened, I'd figure out how to get rid of my angry spirit.
My subconscious wasn't keen on giving up that easily, so I found myself mightily distracted for a while. I kept roping myself in and loving everything Anna was saying, and then I'd be wandering back into my frustration. When she started having us focus on our breath, however--where we were sending it, how it felt in our bodies, the differences between various poses--I finally entered a flow. I knew this was what I needed, to be reminded of the vital connection between my body and my spirit. What stitches the two together is the breath, and the more mindful and powerful the breath, the tighter the stitching.
I breathed and I breathed and I breathed during that class. My sadhana (daily practice) has suffered much this month, between crazy schedules and leaving town and darling children who refuse to sleep EVER, and my body was feeling it. My breathing was shallow, my muscles were already weakened, and my diet of late has been almost entirely sugar. Of course I hadn't been able to deal with my anger!
We need to respect our bodies. They are sublime gifts from God; they are one of the principle reasons we came here, and even if you're not thrilled with your current model, you gave up heaven temporarily to receive it. Remember that you were thrilled with it when you had perfect perspective. Love it! The challenge of this life is not to eschew the flesh, but instead to harness its power and use it as a disciplined vehicle for your spirit to reach new heights--those of gods, to be precise. We literally could not become what God expects of us without these amazing, beautiful bodies.
My husband gave me a priesthood blessing at the beginning of the year in which he stated, as an unrelated tangent, that my pursuits of spiritual power were good but that they would be aided by a pursuit of physical power, because they could be the same goal, and that is how I would come into my true power. That's a super weird thing to include in a blessing, but it came right after I'd received a (very unwelcome) prompting to start the kundalini teacher mentorship. I hadn't told Nick, because I didn't want to do it, so I was super surprised to hear him say those words. Second witnesses are the best.
I'm so grateful I listened at last, because I'm learning how true it is that our spiritual power is tied intimately to our bodies. As my personal practice has grown, I have been amazed at the influence each has on the other.
That's not to say that a weak body houses a weak spirit or a strong body a strong spirit. A friend just lost her husband to cancer this week, and although I never met him, it is obvious that his spirit is a giant. There's a reason for the cliche that broken bodies are home to warrior spirits. Harnessing the power behind pain might be the greatest discipline there is.
I'm talking instead about my connection to spirit and Spirit, which is facilitated via the breath. Inspiration means to breathe in. As I breathed in that class, I received inspiration about how to calm my raging heart. The guided imagery at the end was powerful for me as I was given specific and surprising information about my breathing, and I was so rejuvenated coming home. God had given me tools and was in the process of healing me.
Like in all things, it took a couple days of following my promptings and working on my breathing before I felt the last vestiges of anger seep out of my soul. It happened as I felt I needed to commit to my ridiculous wake-up time this morning no matter how little sleep I got. When my daughter woke up at 3:30 this morning, I felt fine. I've felt fine since. Actually, I've felt amazing and peaceful and joyful. I've woken up again at last.
The point of this seemingly pointless monster post is to remind myself that blackouts happen, and it's okay. It's okay to feel lost. It's okay to beat myself up and wallow. But if I want to get out of that faster next time, I need to commit fully to the practices I know make me happy and follow through and, most importantly, I need to breathe.
If you're struggling to feel awake, either literally or metaphorically, try breathing. Remove that which covers the light of your mind. Inspire ; )
Exploring the spiritual side of things. Brevity is not my forte.