In a yoga class a few weeks ago lead by Jessica Johnson, co-founder of the Bhav Brigade, my body felt unsettled. I was unsure before I even arrived in class. I convinced myself to show up, to walk inside and to unroll my mat. Unsure of my place in the class, feeling unsettled in my body, pushed beyond my physical comfort zone, I wanted to flee. And then Jess guided us. Sharing the words of Glennon Doyle, she created a welcome mat for my practice.
we’ve got it all backward down here. We want to be on the mountaintops, but we’re not called to be victorious. We’re called to be wise, strong and kind. We are admired on the mountaintops, but we are beloved in the valleys. All the magic is in the space between mountains, where we have to unbecome everything we thought we were and start from scratch. This is hard to do, because when pain comes in the form of uncertainty, our instinct is to scramble out of it, to grab blindly for the familiar. But when we rush out of the valley, we miss gathering all the wisdom, strength and kindness we need for the next climb. We have to learn how to sit by the river and be still enough to claim its gifts. ~Glennon Doyle Melton
So here I am again. I’m in the middle again, the middle of the mountain. This is where the magic happens. But this is also such a hard place to exist. It’s a daily battle to not give up or give in.
The yoga practice that night challenged me. With sweat rolling down my back, I wanted to retreat to child’s pose. It’s always available, but did I need it. I knew I didn’t need it. I just wanted easy. I stuck with hard.
I was still unsure when I left class that night. I still didn’t feel settled, but that practice has remained a constant in my daily thoughts. Jess asked us in the moments when our legs want to give up, when our hearts are straining, to observe. What we are feeling doesn’t matter, but making note of how we are feeling does. When we are challenged, how do we respond? There is no right answer. There is only our answer.
What is my answer? I scramble. I flee. I feel panic. I become unsettled.
I sat with my feelings of being unsettled that night. I used my breath to calm me. I used the flow of my body to feel alive. The more I felt graceful and powerful in my movement, the more my anxiety disappeared.
Yoga is more than a class. It’s called a practice because it’s something we do every day. It’s something we practice in every aspect of our lives.
This Saturday before sunrise I drove to the trails. As I drove passed the Chesapeake Bay, I found my mind wandering. How can I feel so alive and so unsettled at the same time? This is the best I’ve felt mentally, physically and emotionally in a very long time yet part of me is still so unsettled. My thoughts wandered some more. I was drawn back to my yoga practice. If the movement of my physical body is what settles me, I need to move more. I was headed to the perfect place to move my body. The trails are my yoga practice.
That morning the trails were flooded with light and frost. They were flooded with fog and mist. They were alive, and my body carried me to a place of feeling settled. My running feels fluid again. It moves with ease.
As I ran with the trees I was reminded of all the shared stories and dreams I’ve whispered to these trees. I’ve spent so many years and miles wandering through these woods they are part of who I am. The trees with the greatest reach also have to strongest roots. To reach high, you have to be deeply rooted.
I feel myself reaching higher and higher every single day. I can’t help but wonder if my roots are a little shaky? For the rest of December, I’m returning to my yoga mat and the trails. I’m returning to the relationships that nurture me. Instead of glancing up to the top of the mountain, I think I’ll take a few steps back to the valley. Dig in, get dirty, and allow the movement of my body to settle me.
In my roots, at the base of the mountain, I am reminded that I am small. When I am small, I am reminded that I’m part of a much bigger journey. I am much bigger than myself. I am small, but I matter. This is the space that feels like home to me. This is were I become settled.
To read Glennon’s full article, click here.