You wanna fly, you gotta give up the shit that weighs you down. Wow, I love this simple, direct, and real truth from Toni Morrison. Do you have any shit weighing you down? Sometimes it is even hard to see it, because we so accept, and even embrace, it as a part of who we are. Of course, all of our emotions and thought patterns and behavioral habits developed for a reason. We were trying to protect ourselves from something, or trying to adapt to or cope with a difficult situation. So all of these things have their role and their place and time in our lives. I’m not saying we should shun them or block them out or forcibly suppress them, pretending to be someone that we are not. Because honestly that doesn’t work very well either. But if we can recognize any unhealthy or unwanted shit that we are carrying, that is no longer serving us in any positive way, then we can recognize when we are ready to just let it go. As they say, awareness is the first step toward change. So we must first spend a little time looking honestly and deeply at ourselves. In yoga, this is called svadhyaya, or self-study. Within self-study, we must also remember compassion and non-judgement, being understanding with ourselves and why we developed whatever shit we developed. But then, with the light of awareness and a little loving kindness, we can decide if it is time to release it. And ahhhhhh, the freedom we feel when we are able to let go of that shit and fly!
What kind of things might be weighing us down? It could be different things for each of us, of course. Maybe anger at this cancer. Maybe fear of what may come. Sadness at the change in our bodies. Frustration at the loss of things we used to be able to do. Maybe disappointment in a loved one who was less than understanding or said the “wrong” things. Maybe a feeling of hopelessness that we will ever get back our strength and vitality. Maybe impatience at this slow healing. Maybe we have distanced ourselves from others to try to protect them, so we feel a little alone. Maybe we’ve got the why mes? Maybe we’re stuck in sick mode and afraid to let ourselves feel better. Maybe you have none of these? Maybe something else? All of these are perfectly normal and expected responses to the challenges of being diagnosed with cancer and all that follows. And we have every right to feel them. But we can also choose whether or not we want to stay there. Whether or not these are responses that are helpful to us feeling our best, and really re-learning how to enjoy our lives, in spite of our difficulties.
So once we are aware of all of the things we are feeling and how we are responding, and we have identified one or more that feel like they are weighing us down, then what? Not much actually. In the light of this awareness alone, in this space of mindfulness, where we notice the thing with understanding and non-judgement, that negative emotion or habit naturally loses its grip on us and begins to diffuse on its own. We begin to notice when it arises instead of letting ourselves get swept away in it. And then, a spaciousness arises where we have the clarity and the opportunity to choose an alternate response. One that feels better to us. One that is more in line with where we want to be. We may not yet be ready to give up all of our shit. Sometimes we need to just sit with it a while before it serves its purpose. But with awareness and self-study, you’ll know when you are ready to let it go. And there we find our freedom. Our healing. And our recovery. May we all give up that shit and fly!
Btw this posture is called flying pigeon. It requires open hips, some arm strength, core strength, and a bit of practice. It is challenging, but also fun and empowering! Let me know if you want to try to start working on some fun arm balances. I’d be happy to help!