I’m back. I think I say this every few months or so. Sometimes longer. I’ve been moving. My primary home was in Lawrence Kansas and now my primary home is in Boston, Mass.
It’s been big and tough and many, many times as the miles sped by with a seven year old, two dogs, my stuff and my honey in a fairly small van, I asked myself why? I wanted to move. I wanted to make a big move. I wanted to live with my honey again. The endeavor was much bigger than I thought, though. And to be honest I struggled with my yogic principles. Big time.
I haven’t been the best yogi over the last six weeks. On top of the stress and fear I’ve been in almost constant pain since I left. I haven’t been on the mat as much as I would want a client/student to be. I get so frustrated when clients don’t see results because they don’t put in the work, but I’ve been that client lately.
Stemming primarily from the drive, the little twinges of arthritis I occasionally had flared up in big, painful and scary ways. I realized the arthritis in my foot is probably the beginning of a bunion. My occasional sciatic pain is a consistent reminder of everyone I’ve ever helped heal. Back pain is so invasive. It affects every aspect of your life. I can’t sleep, lift things, shower, clean, unpack, sit for long periods, cook, make love, ride the T, trolley or bus without more pain than I’ve ever felt. And yet I do.
On the way out here I had an allergy attack that prompted a sweet and well-meaning cop to call an ambulance. The EMTs informed me I actually had great oxygen absorption- 100%. Which meant I wasn’t actually having an allergy attack. “Do you have any anxiety issues?” the man taking my pulse asked?
So, while they were extremely helpful and kind I wasn’t having a physical problem. They had me sign some paperwork and sent me on my way.
I was embarrassed and felt like a failure. It was possible that my anxiety sparked some kind of allergic kind of feeling, but my lungs worked fine and I could even breathe through my nose. The coughing wasn’t impeding my breathing.
This is what I do!I help people who have these issues and the nasty voice in my head says I shouldn’t have these problems. I should be “well” enough to live my life without anxiety issues.
And then I hear the kind voice of my last therapist who reminded me almost every session that she’s a therapist and most therapists she knows are because they need the tools they teach. It’s okay to still struggle with anxiety occasionally and teach people how to manage it at the same time. I had this idea that I think is pervasive in our society that I can only be an expert or teach something unless I’ve mastered it.
And then with a roll of my eyes I remember my teacher’s voice telling me to teach what I know. Teach what I’m learning because I’m most present with it. I’m in the muck of it and so I’m the best teacher for what I’m teaching in this moment. If I’m so far away from what I’m teaching that I can’t remember what it feels like to struggle with headstand/anxiety/peace then I can’t be an effective teacher.
And I’ve learned the most in my life from people who value being open, honest and freely themselves. It’s what drew me to yoga and the teachers I’ve chosen.
So with the nasty voice, my therapist’s voice and my teacher’s voice I freely admit that, yes I still struggle with some anxiety and while the nasty voice in my head tells me that means I’m failing I also hear a little, softer voice that reminds me to look at the progress and forget about perfection. And then the little voice gets a little louder and reminds me that I’m human. Who do I think I am to think that I shouldn’t have struggles? I mean, really? Who?
My huge character defect, one that my best friend from college called me on almost 20 years ago, is that when I’m struggling I disappear. I don’t write, I don’t call and I don’t let anyone know that I’m in pain. A lot of us share this defect. It’s incredibly frustrating to the people who love us.
Sometimes it feels like all I do is write about my struggles. It feels like present myself as someone who constantly fails. But in all honesty, I sometimes feel that way about myself. So, I guess it’s honest and real. My struggles the last five years have been huge. And, boy I have learned a lot. I’ve grown immensely and I’ve tried to be open and I’ve tried to use my lessons to be a better teacher, a better parent and a better yogi.
So my intention now is to keep writing even while I’m in pain, to stay here and teach through my own experiences, to share yoga in all the ways that I know it and to embrace being human.