Yoga is transformation, it doesn’t change us into an entirely different person, but a better person. Yoga removes the obstacles that hide who we really are. Self-doubt, uncertainty, fear and loneliness are all barriers that keep us from aspiring to the highest. We set an intention, an idea of how we want to be, what we aspire to, then through gentle deliberation and mindfulness, we set our body in a pose to find our physical center, the mind follows, the heart awakens and our true nature is revealed to us. My friend, Julie, in this 2nd of a 4-part series, inspires us with the revelations of her own heart.
“A few weeks ago I attended a silent weekend retreat at a monastery. I spent the previous five weeks repairing and nourishing my soul and was eager to go deeper through “forced silence.” I must admit, though, the thought of silence made my insides giddy. Since recently purposefully disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of airplanes, computers, and cell phones, I realized how much I love silence. My meditation practice taught me my favorite place is inside.
Like most, I’ve always had some level of anxiety in my life but over the past year it had gotten out of control. Bingeing had become my main way to dissipate it. And that had gotten out of control recently too.
Not speaking my truth has always led me down the path of bingeing and here I was again. I was not facing the fact that my husband’s substance abuse was a big problem. As he disconnected from me every evening, I felt sad and afraid which caused anxiety. As he got high and related to me from a hyper state of mind, I became anxious. I found myself turning to food more and more and I gained weight, which caused more anxiety. As I gained more weight, I became more concerned with what others thought of my body and that created more anxiety. As I looked ahead at my work schedule I saw 10 hotel nights out of the next 15, two flights across the country and meetings and more meetings, all of which fueled my anxiety to the point of no return. Along with the anxiety came insomnia and it was then while being awake at 3:00 a.m. that I told my husband I could not continue like this and needed to take a leave from work to straighten myself out. I was desperate and on the edge. The edge of what, I’m not sure but I certainly sensed the crumbling beneath my feet.
During my leave I set some goals for myself. Above all , I wanted to return to my daily yoga practice (which I had let slide seeing that yoga is inconsistent with bingeing), exercising daily (I rediscovered walking!), spend at least 30 minutes a day in nature, meditate and practice pranyama breathing and refrain from bingeing. During this time I continued therapy, my husband and I started couple’s counseling and I enlisted the help of a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist to bring my body, mind and spirit back into balance.
The last weekend of my leave was the retreat and at the onset we were asked to place an object of intention onto a prayer table along with a silent prayer. Mine was a little gold ring that I had found recently while digging up dirt for a terrarium. As I placed the little gold heart ring on the table, I prayed that God would help me open my heart and keep it open. That night I dreamt the ring was back on my finger and I knew in that moment, my prayer had been answered.
During the retreat I learned how to practice Christian yoga, praying with your body. I started to feel my body move like never before as we matched asana to contemporary Christian songs. I was dancing. I was worshipping. I was praying. And it all felt so good!
On the final morning of the retreat, I was gifted a beloved sunrise over the Hudson River. Today, I wanted to match my daily ritual of forehead anointing of sandalwood oil to the sun cresting the horizon. As I went to anoint my forehead I found myself doing it in the sign of the cross, and at that exact moment the sun came over the horizon displaying a brilliant cross that reflected its magnificence on the river. At that moment, I knew I was home and had found the answer to all my struggles. I have searched many places for this answer in my life and here it was in all its glory and simplicity. The answer has been here all along and it is God. I’ve discovered that God is very patient and will wait to comfort me. His time is eternal so he has waited until I’ve turned to him. And I’ve found his comfort to be unlike any I’ve ever known.”