I attended a Tai Chi/Yoga combo class yesterday. And, like many yoga classes, there was a section designated for relaxation at the very end. Instead of guided visualization, she just had us focus on breathing in and out and relaxing our muscles for a couple of songs.
Afraid my ADHD would kick in and I’d start using those songs to start stressing about planning the rest of my Saturday, I found myself thinking of a technique I’d picked up somewhere from either a previous yoga class (I took it once as a college elective), or growing up as a therapist’s daughter. In this technique, one is supposed to “breathe in” positive ideas or attributes they desire for themselves, and visualize them becoming a part of their body, and “breathe out” negative thoughts or habits they want to be released from.
Breathe in. Love, light, blah blah blah- those are so cliche, Amanda. This is ridiculous.
Breathe out. Oh, shoot. Is it time to breathe out already? Um, quick I’m almost out of breath…negativity! I’ll do better next round.
Breathe in. Okay. Try again. Love for others. Ability to love myself. Accepting God’s love for me.
Breathe out. Anger. Bitterness. Negative thoughts. Thoughts about [his name here]. Ohhh, [his name again].
Breathe in. Love. Just dwelling on the word love. Breathe it in, love. And hope.
Out. Fear. Anxiety. Pain. Missing him. Insecurities.
Getting easier now…
In. Patience. Love. The ability to recognize blessings already around me.
Out. Lies. Worthlessness. Loneliness. Hatred, bitterness, jealousy—
In. God’s love for me. His plans. Knowing it’s going to be okay no matter—
Out.. Pain. So much pain. Get out. I’m just so tired of hurting. Physically, mentally, emotionally—
In. Energy to get things done today, freedom from my negative thoughts, HEALTH. Feeling better again.
Out. Depression. Sadness. Thoughts and emotions that paralyze me.
It was becoming easier by the moment to rattle off things I needed to get rid of. I’d run out of air in my lungs and before I knew it, there were things I needed to get better at just waiting in line, too.
Breathe in. Forgiveness. The ability to forgive…no matter how much I’m hurting.
Breathe out. Fear. Fear of the future. Of loss. Of never finding. Of never getting out. Of pretty much everything.
And on and on it went. Felt like forever, but I had an endless list. Some were repeats because I really had to focus on getting them through my head, or letting them go. A lot of which I won’t share with the general public if I share this [entry in actual, tangible journal] with the internet community, which I probably will because maybe there are a lot of us who need to take an inventory of the mental trash that builds up and needs to be purged from time to time.
By the end of the song there were tears rolling down from the corners of my eyes and I woke myself from my near-nap state because I had to actually choke back a sob that I didn’t realize was about to emerge. There was some verse in the song that I’d been barely noticing as background noise until at that very moment, at which the singer said, “Ten thousand angels by your side,” which somehow only made me want to cry more because I felt less alone.
[Then I had a fleeting thought and almost got bitter about how the music choice could’ve been a direct reflection of how most Christians don’t like the guided visualization part of yoga classes and maybe this teacher was trying to cater to her audience in Bible Belt, TN…but none of it even mattered to me. I reigned in my wandering-towards-judgemental thoughts because it was a pretty song and somehow I needed to hear it and meditation is what you make it and we all could use a little time to ourselves in prayer, meditation, or even an amalgamation of both, even if it’s in the middle of a fancy workout studio, surrounded by rich, middle-aged women who could probably afford to come to this class as many times as they wanted to yet here I was having some sort of emotional breakthrough in the middle of a free class on open house day. I am a weirdo.]
I wiped the escaped tears away,rolled to my side and up to sitting and joined with those rich, middle-aged women in giving our teacher a “Namaste”.
It’s only now, a day later, as a write this that I wonder what went on in their heads, on their mats.
And, I wish you all who might be reading this the best of luck in whatever mental battle you may be fighting at the moment. May we all be able to take control and simultaneously let go of control where need be and find blessings in the least likely of places.
You can read more from Amanda Smolinski on her blog.
Feature image via.