How do we feel vibrant, ageless and alive? For me it’s when I feel a loving connection.
I can feel my heart expand when I am attuned to Shoshanna, my seven-year-old granddaughter, whether I have that rare opportunity to be in her presence, or even when I conjure up an image of her in my heart’s mind. Science corroborates my experience. Our hearts literally swell when we feel love, and they shrink when we grieve.
Grieving is a natural part of our lives, not to be tamped down, but there comes a time when we must turn our faces to the sun, when we must let joy flow through the grief, even if it’s only a small stream. For the sake of our heart-health, both physically and emotionally, we cannot dam the flow of tears, nor can we dam the flow of joy. When we deny our grief, those unshed tears freeze inside us, just as water freezes into ice. When we deny our joy, we become as dry as a geranium left too long in the sun.
I’ve learned these lessons the hard way. For the 35 years it took me to discover yoga, I was either numb or a total fake. I was seemingly happy and productive on the outside, and either freezing or drying out inside.
I’ve written many books and articles about how yoga transformed my life and the science behind it, so I won’t repeat myself here. I will tell you though, that my yoga mat and my meditation cushion have been the places where I’ve cried and laughed my way back into a life of meaning. Through yoga, I learned to accept the feelings that arise within me and bless them as I watch them flow through. I mean that.
What a blessing it is to feel a momentary grief after all those years of feeling nothing. I know the emotions I am feeling aren’t who I truly am. Yoga hasn’t made my life happy. My life is just my life. But yoga has allowed me to feel happiness. Yoga has allowed me to feel sadness. Yoga has allowed me to feel it all and respond to those feelings as they move through me, instead of repressing them. The point is those feelings don’t get stuck. That is the gift of my long-time practice.
N e e d i n s p i r a t i o n ?
🌵 Watch my session on the recent “Embodied Movements of Compassion” series with Deirdre Fay.
🌵Listen to my conversation with yogini Erika Belanger on her insightful On and Off Your Mat podcast.