Photos by Justin Kral of Kral Studios.
Knowing myself is a delicate art, an ongoing practice.
I reach moments of clarity. “I’ve got this,” I think. “I know what I want, and I’m on the path I’m meant to be on.” Or, “I have what I want, and I’m grateful for it.” In my relationships, my work, my willingness to try new things, my habits that keep me healthy, my ability to be a good friend, or to teach a good yoga class.
I’ve got my shit together, I’ll tell myself. I’m tending to my needs, acknowledging my feelings. Speaking my truth.
And then I am woken up.
I start to hear the question beneath the chatter, the one that’s always asking, Am I good enough?
When I stop checking my phone for notifications, or rushing through a meal, or helping someone else instead of taking time for me…over-booking my calendar and racing from thing to thing—when I slow down, and take notice, there’s sometimes still this emptiness that I haven’t tended to. It’s been sitting there and growing darker and deeper, wanting to be acknowledged.
This week my awareness shifted while I was lying on the massage table, receiving Reiki. It was perhaps the first time I had been fully relaxed in several weeks. Suddenly I became overwhelmed by a feeling of fear, and a sense of deep vulnerability. My healer had noticed a lot of heat and inflammation in my low back and hip, where my sciatica has been flaring up. “You’re shivering,” she said, “almost like your body has been through a shock.”
And I could feel it – the vibration of pain, the way it’s been present in my body, left unnoticed.
Well, not entirely unnoticed. Lately I’ve been pretty conscious of the physical pain – whether I’m having an easy day with no sciatica, or a day with pain. Sitting is uncomfortable, driving is worse, and swimming didn’t help, but frog pose did. Stretching out felt good, and so did relaxing after I got home from work, but as soon as I pushed too hard, the discomfort returned.
Hit or miss is what it feels like. The realization is this: the hip openers are a start, but they are not enough.
The miss is that I haven’t been addressing the emotional and spiritual aspect of the healing I need. The darkness and the shadows I’m still carrying around. The pain of loss that I haven’t fully grieved and the worry about a future I’m uncertain about. There’s a lot I need to – and am ready to – let go of. There’s a lot I want to say. I’m allowed to raise my voice, and say those things.
I am standing now in awareness, seeing how I can start with pigeon pose, but at some point the practice is really about learning to love myself.
And on this healing path, I’ll slowly begin to shed the deep, false fear that I’m not worth it. I acknowledge the way I crave closeness but am afraid of closeness. The way I feel separated and don’t want others to notice me, when really I yearn for intimacy and desire to love—and be loved—unconditionally. I see that in reality, I deserve the spotlight and I’m not a selfish person for stepping into it from time to time.
And I’ll remind myself that these feelings are not so different from those around me, that my struggles are not experienced alone.
None of us are alone, and our bodies hold wisdom. My body is telling me things all the time, whether I’m listening or not. Thankfully, this week I was woken up to my body shivering, saying, all at once: I’ve been missing you and you are OK, you always have been.
My healer said something to me that resonated to my core, to my very root chakra, the one that needs healing. She said:
You are the most important person you know.
There’s something very empowering about putting yourself first, about being willing to do the important work of healing.
I was made to be real, not perfect. I will walk this path of healing now. Let me be strong on the days when I’m stumbling. Let the dust be dusted off, so that the light can shine through.