It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written anything that I have wanted to share. Sharing takes courage and requires some vulnerability. I haven’t felt courageous for some time. I also wasn’t keen on feeling exposed. Who does? But as with most challenges; time can either burden your heart, locking the door on the room where both shame and loneliness reside, or it can soften the sting around a wound that has slowly started to heal. So here I am…slowly healing.
It's almost been 2 years since mom died, 12 months of grieving loss as it pertains to my business, 11 months since my dad died, 10 months of wading through a past relationship from birth and the tumultuous ride of drawing boundaries to protect my heart and my family; and a daily challenge to navigate the loss & grief in other areas of my life with family members struggling with addiction. Let’s just say that sharing all the messy bits hasn’t been on my list of “Top Things to Do”. I felt too susceptible to more pain.
I’ve spent a lot of time the last 2 years learning more about myself, my patterns, my desires, and the life I wish to exist in and with; alongside all of you; my community! So, I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with you just in case you were feeling some of the same relatable aches.
I have kept coming back to the philosophy that was behind starting The Yoga Junction at it’s inception. “Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.” Whether the stories in our heads, or the stories that people tell us, when we keep them confined in the room of our mind we isolate there, alongside shame and loneliness. The problem is that when we stay in that room too long, with our feelings growing alongside us, we begin to fill that space with more décor that matches the room we have been confined to. Before you know it, we have moved in fully; bringing in the furniture that allows us to get comfortable, decorating the walls with memories of the things that used to bring us joy, so that we can “remember” those days. We settle into a routine, we build a space that allows us to stay there comfortably, adjusting to the décor, accepting that this is “good enough” or “all that we deserve”. The truth is we stay in that room because it’s easier than venturing outside where judgements and expectations meet us at each door, hallway, and stairwell we face. We need to normalize the challenges of leaving our perceived safe space so that we can venture into the possibility of actual safe spaces. This only happens when those doorways, hallways and staircases are filled with accessibility supports. We can’t approach those spaces without knowing that there will be something to reach for, hold onto or lean against when we feel the pressures of judgements or expectations pushing us through those passages ways towards a descent… We need more supports, more safe spaces to access. We need to TALK about why it’s so hard to leave the room. We need to normalize the room, the doorways, the hallways, the staircases. We need to feel structure around us that supports us as we walk out of the room.
I have talked a lot about compassion verses sympathy the last 2 years. How they are so vitally different and how that difference is so important to how we “show up” for ourselves and others. The Latin root for the word compassion is pati, which means to suffer, and the prefix com- means with. Compassion, originating from compati, literally means to suffer with. The connection of suffering with another person brings compassion beyond sympathy into the realm of empathy. Let that sink in…BE WITH…there’s no fixing there, no solutions or advice, there may not even be words…just… BE WITH. It’s only then that a person can feel safe and regulated enough to exist “in” and “move through” the space they are in. So often when we default to sympathy we are arriving from a place of judgment or expectations, even if we don’t think we are….we are making assumptions based on our own previous experiences and preferences. We offer advice, thinking that we are helping and yet that help can translate to shame…pushing us back into the room or down the stairwell.
We talk a lot about “Holding Space” in the wellness sector and particularly in the Yoga community. It’s almost become a buzz word phrase…but what does holding space actually mean? It means that you literally are doing nothing BUT holding whatever energy is in front of you with gentle kindness and without any judgments or expectations. It’s becoming aware that we are all part of the same whole. Recognizing that underneath whatever is happening and however it is presenting itself that underneath it all we are the same divine light, the same marvellous substance having this human experience, no one person is greater or above another. We are all worthy, which is why we are here. There is sacred space between you and I, the divine resides within the soul of every being. So, we must always be reminded of the interconnectedness of all things. Recognizing that the space shared between the souls of ALL beings is sacred. Remembering we must respect and honour that sacred space with reverence, compassion, and love. Remembering that in every soul, there is a pure light, and when we acknowledge that light in others with reverence, we are honouring the Divine, the universe, mother nature and all beings. This is the space we hold. It is the space that lives between Stimulus and Response. This space is where breath happens and Breath changes everything. We need to respect this space, honour it, support it, hold it, recognize it in every single being. This sacred space is where ALL the learning happens, and we must learn. Learning is what leads us towards living with less suffering. Learning is what leads us towards freedom from the rooms that confine us. So, when you think of holding space; picture cradling the most precious thing you can imagine in your hands, offering it your purest intention to allow it to be as it is without changing it, allowing it to breath on its own, in its own way until its ready to be free. This is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and each other.
Thank you for being with me on this journey. I appreciate you; as you are; so very much!
More soon; with MUCH love,