I spent the last four days immersed in the beginning stages of my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training.
If I tried to write about everything we learned this week, I would be here for days.
I laughed at the end telling my sister, and teacher, when we’re doing hip openers for four days straight, some old crap is going to up to be released.
That’s the beautiful thing about yoga. We release old (and new) pain, without having to relive it. That said, sometimes we do have to relive it in order to release it.
Have you ever heard someone say “don’t dim your light”?
Well I have been practicing yoga for 21 years, and I have heard this many times. For the most part I grasped the concept and have striven to allow myself to shine in a humbling manner, and in a way that would inspire others. I thought I was speaking my truth, and living in a way that honored my beliefs.
I realized after days of diving deep into my soul through writing, meditations, yoga, and most importantly, through finally being ready to see the truth, that I have actually not been living or speaking my truth the majority of my life.
Not in every area. There are many ways I am true to myself, and if you know me, you know I am not quiet about the stuff I believe in. However, I recently realized that I have had a lot of pain in my life that I didn’t think was worthy of seeing, feeling, or making a big deal of, so I just stuffed it down deep.
For most of my life, I was an angry, judgmental pessimist. I had so much pain and sadness in me that I didn’t think was worth feeling. When we don’t allow ourselves to feel something, guess what happens? We don’t release it. When we don’t release it, this pain can manifest in a lot of crappy ways.
For me, it’s been gut issues my entire life. If we don’t listen to our body, it starts talking louder until it’s screaming at us to get our attention.
This year, especially during quarantine, when I was left with no distractions from my life, my body started screaming so loud I couldn’t choose to turn it off. I had to listen. This is what it told me:
You matter. Your pain is no less important than someone else’s pain. Just because someone might have had it worse doesn’t mean that what you went through doesn’t matter. Just because you didn’t feel powerful enough to stand up for yourself or talk about it at the time doesn’t mean it’s too late now.
I am finally ready to listen to my body, and the funny thing is, if I look at the world around me, I could so easily push this down again. There is so much pain in our world today. More than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime.
That pain everyone else is feeling, no matter how big the issues others are dealing with, does not make your pain invalid. It doesn’t mean that what you are dealing with doesn’t matter.
I want to stop comparing my pain to others and diminishing it. Why? Because all that is doing is blocking me from healing and living my most authentic life.
I witnessed so much sadness and so much abuse in my childhood. I was never physically abused, but I saw people I cared about be abused. Lucky for me, I thought. No one ever laid a hand on me.
So, I spent my entire life up until now thinking that my pain was not valid. The abuse wasn’t happening to me, I thought. I was not the victim. Yet, I can now see that I was experiencing abuse—I just never felt like it was valid enough to feel because it wasn’t obvious.
Then, as the years passed, I started getting bullied. I don’t remember how it started, but at one point I stopped knowing I was worth anything. Or maybe I never thought I was to begin with.
Some of the abuse I experienced in life was physical—like the girls who would bully me—but most of it was emotional. Through all of these years, and all of these experiences, I never felt like my pain was worthy.
But, I am finally starting to see the pain I went through and say, “This is a really freaking big deal.” It doesn’t matter if someone had it worse. What I went through was awful and I have been in fight-or-flight mode my entire life because of it.
No wonder I have been sick. No wonder my symptoms include a broken lymph system and holding onto inflammation and water weight. No wonder when I am in a flare-up I get fatigue and I can’t stop crying. No wonder.
If we don’t let ourselves feel the pain that is deep inside, we’ll get sick. Our body screams at us until we have no choice but to listen. This, I believe, is why we as humans get sick most of the time. This is why we get headaches, and stomach aches, and even cancer.
I believe all of our stuffed emotions, and the habit of diminishing ourselves to make others feel better, is a huge part of the problem with our world.
How many times have you said, “So and so had it so much worse. I need to be really grateful for my life and my health?” That’s a really beautiful end goal, and I think there is a lot to be said for intentional mindset, and a positive attitude, but we can’t get there if we never let ourselves feel and release the bad stuff first.
This doesn’t make you a negative person; it makes you human. This act of honoring yourself is what will ultimately lead you to your true happiness. The happiness that comes from deep within. The happiness that is real, not faked because you think you should be happy.
Think of how different our world would be if everyone loved themselves. If we loved ourselves fully, we would love others more. If we weren’t constantly judging ourselves, we would be be less judgmental of others. If we perceived our feelings as if they mattered most, we would be able to hold space for others without trying to change them or fix them. It’s not just about how we treat others—it starts from within.
It’s important to look at our lives and see where we’ve stuffed old memories or pain of our own because we didn’t think it was worth feeling. I think it’s important to see where we have shrunk back and felt small to make someone else feel important. This is different than stuffing pain because we don’t want to deal with it.
This is about knowing you are not just allowed to feel it, but knowing that your pain matters even if someone else’s pain seems bigger.
This is about honoring yourself, your life, your experiences, and your being. It’s about knowing you matter and that you have earned the right to be loved just by being alive. It’s about not having to prove yourself, or show off, or work harder in order to feel important and valued. It’s about knowing that you are beautiful, and perfect, and flawed—and that is exactly how God intended it.
If you want to be more loving toward others, love yourself more.
If you want to be more giving, give to yourself.
If you want to be more nurturing to your kids, nurture yourself.
This is step one.
Once these feelings have come up, and you have allowed yourself to feel the pain and hurt, then you can begin to move on. But don’t ever feel like you need to rush past that first part and hurry up to forgive and heal.
That’s where I went wrong.
I thought I was being negative and pessimistic, and if I wanted to be happy, I had to skip past the pain and “focus on the good.”
Yeah, of course that’s the end goal. That’s what we all want.
However, true happiness will only come when we are living and speaking our truth; when we know deep inside that we matter, and that our pain is as important as our happiness.
This post is dedicated to my sister. Thank you Becca for helping to remove the veil that has been blurring my perception of myself my entire life. Thank you for being my teacher, my best friend, and for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for following your calling, your Dharma, and for being an example of speaking your truth. Thank you for being unapologetically you, and for holding the space for me to be me. Thank you for the last four days, and the last forty years. I love you.