So, about halfway down my first sheet of paper (I completed five), I began having a panic attack. It's the first I'd had in months, unfortunately, it wasn't the last for the week. I had to leave the studio and go outside because I was gasping for air and gagging. Thankfully, I didn't throw up and, after a few minutes, I was able to return to the exercise, with the shakes and the sweats being the only outward signs left of the episode.
Once we had completed the exercise on the left side of the page, we were to oppose those "I feel" sentences with their positive counterparts. So, for example, "I feel satisfied that I've chosen to pursue my passion for yoga" or "I feel proud that I am able to pursue my dream and my family does not need my financial contribution." After that, we meditated as a group, performed a burning ceremony and went on our way. Unfortunately, despite the support most people felt during the meditation, all I could think of was how I couldn't believe I was back to having panic attacks and that I hadn't realized that my feelings about the situation were still so raw. Perhaps more unfortunate than that, the result of the exercise was to rip wide open a gaping wound that I had forgotten was there. I spent the rest of the week sobbing on and off. I had two more panic attacks. I slept and sulked and accomplished nothing this week, which only makes me feel worse.
I walked into yoga last night and it was palpable how wrong I was feeling. I couldn't sit still or focus. I couldn't look anyone in the eye. In yoga, we talk a lot about energy. There was no doubt I was emanating self-loathing, sadness and fear. I shared my experiences of the week prior through tears that threatened to choke me at times. As always, I had the support of the group around me. I felt better to get it out, but still broken by all the intimacy and honesty. My master teacher, who inspired my two wrist tattoos, "vulnerable" and "powerhouse," suggested a third: "Surrender."
She is right. I grasp so tight onto this life I thought I cared about leading. It was a life that made me miserable, that bordered on self-abuse. There were weeks at a time where I slept only 3 hours a night and sustained myself with Red Bull and coffee. I was so far gone in my own head that I barely remember anything. We didn't even really celebrate my son's birthday last year, and I usually go all out with handmade invites and homemade cakes. What am I holding on to? It is fear that drives us to hang on to what we know even when we know it isn't right. So my intention this week is to explore surrender.
The irony about surrender is that it is the opposite of what I thought my life was about, never giving up, never saying never. I could do everything, and for a while I did. But that's not a life and it didn't last. So instead, I will be working to let go and surrender to where life that is trying to lead me.