sunday musings: the power of feeling

Grief is hard.

Out of all the things I have encountered in my life, I can easily say grief is one I don’t know how to handle. It comes in waves. Sometimes, you can feel so rejuvenated, like a new person, like the pain has passed. The next day, so tired you barely want to get out of bed, and every movement feels like a weightlifting competition. And that – that is hard, because we don’t get to feel tired. This modern day world allows no room for tired or emotional baggage. We always must move, faster and more productively, in work and in our personal lives.

On Friday night, I was in a restorative yoga class at my new studio, Radiance Yoga in Alexandria, VA, and the instructor spoke to this idea of stopping our bodies long enough to let ourselves feel. See, restorative yoga puts you into poses, but you are supported by bolsters, blankets, or blocks, and therefore put no muscular energy into holding the poses. You simply let yourself rest and move from a sympathetic nervous system reaction (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (rest and digest).

This was uncomfortable for me my first class, because I spend so much time trying not to feel the negatives in life that I burry them, and they stay under my skin and they grow like emotional tumors. Sometimes, you don’t even realized you have buried these feelings until they come back. Sometimes you think you have dealt with them, come to terms in a way, but what I have realized as of late is that we don’t allow ourselves to feel the negatives, we simply deal with them. Or at least I do. And they came forward, with each pose – not even tangibly, with a pinpoint to a memory or occasion, just emotions. Just feelings.

This morning was rough for me. I’m not totally sure what I dreamed about last night, but I woke up with that infernal knot in the back of my throat like I was going to cry. I’ve been finding that a lot the past week at the most random and uncertain of times. Even in my pursuit of joy, here I am in pain. But this morning was the first time I let it come out. I felt the grief in my heart and I let it out. And I rested. And now, I’m going to yoga class. And all of these things are okay.

You know, I’ve been somewhat addicted to a certain restorative pose where you basically build a kind of angled backrest using a bolster and blocks and lie back. The shoulders hang down and the chest is lifted. I continually find myself returning to this pose during shavasana, rather than the traditional lay on the floor. As I relax, I feel that knot in my throat arise, because I feel my heart and my chest opening and releasing pain trapped inside, which is why my intention for practice this week has been to open my heart more.

Yoga, for me, has been incredibly healing in this capacity. I would encourage any reader tonight to take a second, get comfortable on a blanket or pillow on the floor, and release the tension in your arms, your legs, your face. Feel the weight of the earth holding you and how you don’t need to hold on to stay steady. Give yourself a moment to feel those feelings, whatever they are, and give your mind and your body the time to rest and digest those feelings so you can release them and come out stronger because of it.

Times will never be perfect, but we can hold on to the hope for a better tomorrow each day, and have faith that in our struggles, we will find even greater capacities for love, strength, and joy.

Thoughtfully,

xx raina xx

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