I wanted to share something quite personal with you all today. I have been dealing with some difficult health challenges recently.
I have been suffering from exhaustion, chronic fatigue, which I have found particularly hard to cope with as I have always had an abundance of energy and enthusiasm for life. Indeed energy, enthusiasm, lust for life, are very much part of my identity. However often times over the last year, I have been so totally exhausted that I have felt like a shadow moving through life. Not really here, flickering in and out of focus. I also recently suffered a mis-carriage at 10 weeks, which left me very low in iron exacerbating the fatigue. Whilst the physical challenges have been a struggle the psychological impact of this physical illness and the mis-carriage have been extreme. It has forced me to re-evaluate many aspects of my life. To look at how I live my life, who I am, the ‘I’ with which I identify and question whether it serves me, whether it is healthy for me and whether I should let it go?
It is a difficult process. There have been days I have felt really lost, other days very down, others confused, hazy, and uncertain. Whilst there have also been days where I have much more clarity and felt like my old self, positive and enthusiastic, those days had, until recently, been the exception. This illness has brought everything into question, nothing can escape scrutiny. If I try to bury or avoid something it comes back louder, and more aggressive screaming to be examined. Having fought and resisted the process for what seems like a very long time, I finally accepted that it could not be avoided. I had to surrender, to give myself over to the process. To stop fighting and to trust that once the clouds cleared there would be a brighter dawn. This is never easy to do when you are in the middle of the storm but there was no other way. I could fight no more. I have to trust in the wisdom of the universe. Everything happens for a reason. There are lessons to be learned.
I once read a book by Thomas Moore called ‘Care of the Soul‘. I picked it up after the break up of my 10 year relationship. The title spoke to me. There was one chapter in particular which brought me a lot of comfort at the time and which I have called to mind many times over the years when I am having a difficult time for one reason or another. It was called Gifts of Depression. Here Moore talks of the ‘colours of the soul’ and that the grey, blue and black are as much a part of it as the reds, yellows, white and orange. He says we must observe the full range of colours and resist the temptation to only approve the bright ones. Some thoughts and feelings seem to emerge only in a dark mood. Depression or melancholy is as important a channel for valuable ‘negative’ feelings, as expressions of affections are for the emotions of love. Essentially the point is that we must acknowledge and respect all aspects of ourselves, including the not so favourable as they all have a role to play, they are all a part of us.
This is something I touched upon in my post about the non-dreaming mind, if we ignore our shadows they shout louder for attention, we must embrace all sides of ourselves. It is so much part of our culture to reject the shadows to think there must be something wrong with us that needs fixing when we feel melancholy, but light cannot exist without darkness. Yin and yang, both integral elements of the whole, if we embrace only the light we neglect half of ourselves. Learning to embrace and value these shadows for the lessons they can teach us, takes us one step closer to self love and acceptance.
Accepting my current limitations, where I am in this moment, is something with which I have battled this last year. I know from past experience that acceptance is the first step in the journey back to full health, but taking that into my heart, embracing it, opening up to what it can reveal with no attachment to the outcome, living it and breathing it has not been easy. I have been fighting it all the way. The reasons I am facing my health challenges are many and they run deep. It is time to let go of attachment to an ‘I’ with which I have identified and open up to something new, something more…………colourful!
What happens on the mat, is a reflection of what happens in life off the mat. It is a paradigm.
In my yoga practice this year, whilst in my head I knew that I am not capable of the pace and strength of practice I had before I got ill and before my daughter was born, it was clear I had not/could not accept that. I kept pushing myself, admonishing myself for my failures, refusing to accept the wisdom my body had to give me, raging against it, until I could simply push no more. I was defeated, mentally, physically and emotionally. Something had to change. I was broken. This was the start of my healing. I started to be gentle with myself, to give myself a break. I allow myself say no to people, to say, sorry I am just not able. To release my attachment to an ‘I’ that no longer served me, that had contributed to my illness. I began to show this new frail self some love, to embrace and accept my limitations as the gifts they are, to help me see my true authentic self ,fragile, exposed but more beautiful and in the same breath stronger for the frailty. I read a post from another blogger, ‘brohominid’ the other day, which really resonated with me. I have taken the below from his post as it says it all really.
So now I am embracing the Yin…….let’s see what happens.
Until next time beautiful souls.
Be kind to yourselves.