Radical Dharma by Rev. angel Kyodo williams is a powerful book on race, love and liberation within spiritual (specifically Buddhist) communities, and this quote by Toni Cade Bambara jumped out at me:
“Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?…Just so’s you’re sure, sweetheart, and ready to be healed, cause wholeness is no trifling matter. A lot of weight when you’re well.”
Yoga and yoga therapy are not meant to bring ease and comfort and relaxation. Sure, that may happen, but that is not the ultimate goal of the practice. According the to the Yoga Sutras, yoga is the stopping of the fluctuations of the mind, and once that happens we rest in our true essence. But getting there is a whole other story.
I love the metaphor of a lotus flower, which are blooming right now in Seward Park. The lotus is a beautiful flower, yet it comes from the murky dark water and mud. Through the mud it finds its way to the amazing expression at the surface.
We too are born through struggle. Every birth story I have heard shares elements of pain, beauty, agony and tenderness.
As I think about a healing journey I think of it as an intentional birthing through the mud and the murkiness to find our whole Self through the pain, the hardship and the growing up process.
When I work with yoga therapy clients I say, “I am going to sound like a therapist right now,” and I share common therapisty sayings like: “the only way out is through” or “it gets worse before it gets better.” I believe these things are generally true, but it does not make it easier to move through the healing process.
I generally want to bypass pain to get to a healed state. I have very successfully bypassed much of my pain for many years, but there were consequences to the bypass. I did not know who I really was. I had to shut down and shut out parts of myself that were too painful to look at. Looking back, I felt as if I only had access to some of me instead of all of me. I was unintegrated. I am sure I am still bypassing now and will continue to go through the mud throughout my life.
I believe that we are constantly birthing ourselves through whatever mud we are currently working with, and when we can actually be in the mud, get to know it, accept it as part of the process and even love it we can find our way to wellness.
The quote above mentions the weight of wellness. Have you gone through a birthing process? What has been the weight on it for you? For me, that weight has included losing friends, relationships shifting out of conditioned patterns, experiencing more anger, sadness and fear, setting more boundaries, being more vulnerable, having vulnerability hangovers and looking at myself more honestly (which is not always pleasant). These weights are all amazing because they have brought me closer to my more authentic Self, but there was, and is, a lot of pain, turmoil and agony to go through.
Wellness, healing and wholeness are “no trifling matter.” But, in my opinion, it is worth the mud. It is worth coming home to yourself, to wake up, to see more clearly, and the more mud we go through the easier it becomes to get back in and do it again. You gain practice and skills to help with the birthing process. The only way the lotus makes it to the surface of the water is through the mud. It will probably get worse before it gets better. What helps you stay in the process to move towards wholeness? What supports you to do healing work even when it is painful?