The pitch black deep hole of emptiness. It appears like the sea; vast and endless. But when you look closer it’s contained within. Alone. In that hole there can be a lot of pain. The pain most likely burns. It is more than a feeling of hurt it is a burn, like when fire strikes the top of your skin, eating its way through to your delicate and open flesh. It burns like crude iron before it becomes cold and heavy steel. That exact heaviness locks you down underneath a smooth, glacial slate-like form of a rock. Transparent.
The pain moves. There is this place where the softness of the saltwater shell that holds your heart beat in tact falls apart and your tears break open. The pain moves from that place to every single corner of your body. It takes less than a second. The sting, so deep into the heart, so vicious, you didn’t see it coming and it stays for a bit. Building itself a nest of warmth and comfort. It itches, like the edge of a blade gliding along side it’s target. That pain.
I was reminded of that pain the other day. On my mat. It showed up in Surya Namaskara A. I kept moving through my asanas, listening to my breath. Ignoring it all. Concentrating. Breathing in hard, exhaling as not to suffocate, moving faster, I felt like an empty pot full of disaster. Control your mind I thought, I grasped towards focus and concentration and wished for it to become a place of refuge. Kumbhaka and hold.
Realizing that the pain was stuck. I was at a cross roads, knowing to completely feel the pain is death. It would simply – break – me. In that moment. Was I ready to pick up my shattered pieces again afterwards? Could I collect them all on my yoga mat?
Allowing pain to sit with you and to feel loss.
To completely feel that, makes you want to disappear. To literally leave space. Like you are not there. But yet, you are. Here. You torturously know that with losing that part of your Spirit, you have also lost a little bit of your Self. Because it formed a completion, it was a bowl of water and now it’s missing a piece. You have emptied your soul to the universe.
There is a moment when you know that the space in between your bones and skin is hollow and the air that was hugging your skin snug – is not holding it together anymore. Especially, when you remember the loss you have felt. The loss of all the people that you have walked away from, the people that have left you, the loss of a child that wasn’t yours to keep, because life was too short, the loss of all the energies that have held you up high and together, they’ve all vanished. Gone. Dead. Empty. In that state, the particles that make up your skin feel like crumbling into little pieces of dust, of nothingness.
You are left with no other than your Self, whom you don’t know anymore. You are left searching and looking into the mirror and not even the deepest corners and angles of your eyes will give you an answer. The only thing you see is someone you don’t even recognize anymore from the outside. You see the pain, very clearly. You feel the stifling agony on the inside. This is when the pain hurts and when the loss is heavy. Your body is held together by nothing other, than by your bones and they are struggling not to fall. Within. When you reach that point you have to think of the timeline of your bones, the relics they will carry on. Remember the strength of your muscles and how they help your bones. Remember the vibrancy of the blood, flowing through, letting them make their little rivers of passaging, to create life. Gently start to feel the little caressing strokes of energies that glue you back together and make your cracks into scars of your story.
Most importantly, remember that this is why we do yoga. We do yoga to see the divine in everything, even ourselves.
From all of that inherent power in your bones comes vulnerability. A little bit like the gentle opening of a flower, delicate and courageous. It reminds you that you can grow. I reached Surya Namaskara B and inhaled into Utkatasana – the intense, fierce, powerful posture. Then bowing and striking the Earth, letting it touch the bottom of my hands, smelling its ground in Chaturanga Dandasana and then moving on up. Letting go. Being supported. Coming up into Upward-Facing Dog and resting in Downward-Facing Dog to refocus, reground, and reconnect. Breathe.
To know that there is support, even if it seems invisible, know that the Earth is there to hold you and there are always people watching you. Allow yourself to be supported (even if that means to grab a yoga block or a blanket). When I used to feel that tormenting pain, my exit strategy was to leave myself, to numb myself, to be everything but myself. Since then, I have learned that I simply have nowhere else to go but up. Rebuild yourself from the bottom up, re-rooting and replanting. Like Utkatasana – fierce and intense.
At the end my heart didn’t break into pieces, but it broke open. I realized that all the countless times I have come home to my mat, stepped my feet together and started to move with breath, have let me to allow this. Space. Give yourself space. And when you think that your heart is breaking, it could be a sign of your heart opening. It might be your heart showing you that it can withstand the power of loss, that it is receptive to feel the pain and that it is open let go and essentially move on. Moving on to a place where you can bow to your heart as your true Self.
This picture was taken at Tim Miller’s shala Ashtanga Yoga Center in Encinitas, California in the late summer of 2016. A place where I always feel supported, uplifted and at home.