on learning to breathe…

at the end of one of my favorite yoga workshops last fall, the instructor closed by saying “yoga is learning to breathe in an uncomfortable situation.” at this point in my journey as a yogi [about 3 years], sometimes the synchronicity of my physical practice with my external life is lost on me; however, at that moment, that message was more important for the friend i brought with me to class who was struggling at that particular moment with some apartment issues [#nyclife].

anyway, W’s words have been ringing in my own ears recently, some 9 months later. its been a particularly challenging 6 months for me personally. just shy of getting my marbles back in the 12-step rooms, and over a year without pressing my lips to a rolled piece of paper stuffed with chemical laden tobacco, i’m in the throes of somewhat of an unraveling. today, i say this with the utmost admiration for this coming undone…i can see the beauty in it….today. not necessarily so in days recently past. and, if i’ve learned anything over the years, i’m all too aware that it’s entirely possible i will wake up tomorrow gripped with panic and fear around the too-big-to-even-fathom uncertainty of life once again. but today, today i have perspective, and appreciation for the path, and for the woman this path is allowing me to become. today, i’d argue that sobriety…recovery…hell, maybe even life in the grander sense, is about learning to breathe in uncomfortable situations.

there’s a bit of a subliminal message in the 12-step rooms that unless you’re happy, joyous and freaking free every higher-power-loving moment of the day, you must be doing it wrong. you must not be helping enough people. you must not be praying hard enough. you must not be doing a thorough enough inventory. now, maybe my own still too strong filter of self-loathing is the one getting this wrong, but based on conversations i’ve had with some of my fellows, i don’t think its just me. while service, and a spiritual consciousness, and rigorous honesty in regular self-appraisal are all integral parts of the program that without question saved my life…that isn’t all there is. and at the end of the day, i maintain i am a human being first and foremost. that my “isms” are imprinted on a spiritual being having a human experience. taking this as fact, how in the world can it be expected that i am precluded from the full range of the human experience just because i also happen to have this spiritual sickness that requires a complete overhaul of the way in which i operate in the world? even if one goes about the courageous, arduous, yet worthwhile undertaking of that overhaul, human beings we still remain [“if you prick us, do we not bleed?”]

my over achiever, people pleasing, perfectionist self was fueled by the gift of desperation a little over 4 years ago to make some major changes. i jumped in with both feet and tried as best as i could to not look back. what i’ve come to realize, only now, is that for the first few years of recovery, i was still bringing the same person in to the world on a daily basis, only now the focus was parroting things that i’d heard from others, that i thought made me sound really good, so that i could look really good [instead of, of course, guzzling lots of booze, taking some pills, and throwing myself at the opposite sex on a regular basis…to make me look “really good”].

this.no.longer.works. now, i am a firm believer that everything unfolds exactly as its supposed to, and the way in which my under-inflated perfectionist ego propelled me from meeting to fellowship to service and back again with the fervency of a thoroughbred chasing that carrot absolutely laid the foundation on which i can now firmly stand, even when i feel like i am dying inside. so….gratitude for that time. yet, now the tides are turning, as they do in life for everyone [recovering addict or not] and i can’t help but feel as though the pain and angst that have been raging within me lately have created just the right amount of pressure to [eventually] spit out a diamond…sometime in the near future [here’s hoping!]

because i am realizing that not only is it not about looking good, or sounding good. its not about not feeling. its not about denying the reality of what it is i am going through. “it,” sobriety, recovery, life is about seeing yourself through those painful times. its about showing up for yourself when it feels like you may just crawl out of your skin. its about acknowledging what is truly going on. in this exact moment. and not running, not denying, not absconding. from the moment, from your body, from your life. its about learning to breathe through the uncomfortable moments [of which there will be plenty]…so that you can come out on the other side. maybe a little wiser. maybe a little stronger. definitely a little shinier….[you know, diamonds].

and i share this today because this is what I need to hear, to acknowledge, to believe. and, in learning how to breathe myself, maybe, just maybe, i can serve the world a little better, from a bit more of an authentic place. and what is this all for anyway, if not to continuously uncover truths about the mystery of who we really are?

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