This morning I got on my mat for my regular practice and noticed that I was feeling stiff. As I moved through some postures I could feel the tightness and I noticed that my reaction was a bit negative. I like to fancy myself the loose and flexible yoga practitioner. I spend a fair amount of time in my body that sometimes I forget that while my body often holds clues as to what's happening inside, I am not my body.
Of course that's difficult to remember in this world of body images, yoga standards, get a tight this and lift a saggy that, and lose the fat in 30 days. The body gets a lot of press. It's something we've been told breaks down, needs constant maintenance, is a point of pride. Is it all true? Perhaps. Perhaps not. [Yes, I'm channeling Yoda today, it would seem]. Then there are those that reject their body. They feel shame because their body is too this or too that or not enough this or not enough that.
Then you see a story like this: A Broken Body Isn't A Broken Person. You watch and you listen to the inspiring words of Janine Shepherd. You might just cry (I sure did). You reevaluate your idea of a "really bad day" (the 30 seconds leading up to 2:06 in the video). You feel uplifted by the change from why me to why not me. You feel the truth in hearing that behind the breakdown, there's a breakthrough. You cheer at the thought of possibility in the uncertainty. You may even think, "Whoa, I'm so glad that hasn't happened to me."
But it has happened. No, you most likely weren't hit by a utility truck, paralyzed from the waist down. I'm sure there was a time when you felt broken. Maybe it was your body or your heart. Something didn't go the way you wanted to. You lost the job. The relationship crumbled. The friend turned his/her back on you. You were diagnosed with an illness. Your life didn't turn out the way you thought it would. You've felt broken. Even if it was in a small way, like participating in a yoga class that you couldn't "keep up" with feeling like a total failure amongst the students around you.
Broken became your story.
"I always have bad luck."
"Good stuff never happens to me."
"I'll never find a job I love."
"My life is boring."
"I'll never fall in love."
"My life sucks."
"I'm not good at relationship."
"It's too hard."
"I'm not flexible enough."
"I'm not good at that."
"It'll never happen for me."
Then we hear this story and we see a glimmer of hope, for we realize that perhaps breaking is our chance to let more light in. Perhaps broken isn't done for, hopeless, unhappy, sad, depressed, bad. Maybe broken is an opportunity. It's a chance to redefine things, your story, yourself.
Yeah, maybe this is just another rah, rah blog post. Maybe you'll be moved for a few minutes and then you'll head back into your life and forget about what's true and you'll pick the story back up. You'll get on your yoga mat and get pissed off when you fall out of Crow Pose.
I hope that you won't. I hope you'll remember. And I hope that you'll allow yourself to break down...and let in the light.
Remember Janine's words:
"The philosopher Lao Tzu once said, "When you let go of what you are, you become what you might be." I now know that it wasn't until I let go of who I thought I was that I was able to create a completely new life. It wasn't until I let go of the life I thought I should have that I was able to embrace the life that was waiting for me. I now know that my real strength never came from my body, and although my physical capabilities have changed dramatically, who I am is unchanged. The pilot light inside of me was still a light, just as it is in each and every one of us.
I know that I'm not my body, and I also know that you're not yours. And then it no longer matters what you look like, where you come from, or what you do for a living. All that matters is that we continue to fan the flame of humanity by living our lives as the ultimate creative expression of who we really are, because we are all connected by millions and millions of straws, and it's time to join those up and to hang on. And if we are to move towards our collective bliss, it's time we shed our focus on the physical and instead embrace the virtues of the heart."