“Yoga is a necessary tool for the survival of myself and others. I need to get on the mat every day – it doesn’t matter how long – 15 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours…or else I’ll pull the head off of someone I love.” – Seane Corn, global yoga teacher and activist
This last weekend I went to see the film Amy and a theatre piece called Fake it ‘Til You Make It – and watching them inspired me to write this piece, to write my journey of why I really do yoga every damn day*.
Two years ago someone dear to me committed suicide, he had been suffering from years of depression and deep frustration. At the time I felt so many things – devastation and the immense guilt because I was relieved that it wasn’t me, and a deep need to tell more people about what had helped me. You see I also had inherited these ‘problems’ but over the last 15 years have been so lucky to have found the right tools for me to manage my bipolar/manic depression/hormonal problems/mental illness (different labels I have been given) incredibly well. So well in fact that most people who know me today now think I am one of the most grounded and serene people they know.(!) And maybe I am. A while ago they would have described me differently.
I too have experienced such immense anguish that I almost killed myself. And when I am reminded of that time I feel the need to stand up on my soapbox and say to myself, to others: there is a way, there is hope and help to experience the beauty of this life, and feel love and loved again.
And for me one of the biggest healers was the practice and study of yoga.
Yoga for me is a huge word. Some days it is going to a strong sweaty yoga class with my yoga buddies, some days it is running alone next to the reservoir, sometimes ten minutes stretching is all I can do, other days going to the park with my friend and her toddler. Whatever makes me connect to the present moment, takes me out of the sometimes scarily paranoid thoughts in my head and into more of what is actually really present.
The quest of my yoga is to see things more truthfully. And to peel away the layers of unworthiness and frustration I feel when I feel stuck in my head and ‘little me’ bubble. It reminds me of the highest joys in life, even when I feel so far removed from them. It reminds me to trust.
After an especially bad night when I was 18 where I ingested anything I could to numb the pain and the demon talking in my head… I woke up in a hospital bed with my family around me. I swore to look after myself better. For the people I love. Those early adult years were excruciatingly painful at times. I suffered many sleepless nights crying, I was scared to be alone too much, I created rules to live by to prevent myself spiraling out of control again. Out of control was me destroying relationships, shattering my dreams, lying, crying and certainly not looking after myself very well, but pretending that I was.
But now I am so grateful, because under all that duress I discovered that I could heal many of my wounds and now I clumsily try to show people how I stitched myself back up.
Of course I have tried all the quick fixes: disassociating, dieting, denying, drugs etc. but unfortunately they all made it worse. Then with some encouragement I kept making art, exercising, eating healthily, sleeping, loving, making mistakes, trusting,
and finally there was that magic moment when I discovered yoga philosophy and understood that there is more to my world than just my thoughts, I became more ‘aware’ of what is real, I practiced gratitude, talked to friends, became more open (I am trying here!) and meditated. BINGO. So now I fuse the creativity and the yoga in my life to find that sacred balance of being and doing.
I look after myself really well now, I nurture my inner little girl’s dream again of making magic … I have an amazing husband, a home, job, friends and even a cat. But still I get those mornings where I wake up utterly miserable for no explicable reason. And tis then, despite all the huge resistance inside, I have to FORCE my meditation, healthy food and yoga down my throat. And ask the people around me for support. It tastes so bitter. But I trust. And I am still here.
Because yoga is my magic pill. And it really f*&!king works for me.**
Whatever your yoga is, whatever truly works for you to help you see more clearly. Whatever your deep knowing is. Whatever shows you that there is something bigger and better than the destructive voice in your head. Take that pill.
Thank you to all those teachers and artists who speak about their demons, who showed me that we don’t need to suffer in silence. Thank you to all the people who have done and still do hold my hand through it all, even when it has scared the shit out of them, and my incredible family and friends for loving me, even when I didn’t feel worthy of love. Thank you for reading this, for letting me share my story. Please share yours too – with me, and all those who want to hear it.
Sometimes when we shine a light under the bed together, we realise the monsters are more manageable than we thought.
– If interested in finding out more about what I do, look through this site and feel free to get in touch via bridgetisluff.at.gmail.com if you would like to work together in some way. And check out “The Practices of Freedom & Wellbeing” a great course which offers many of the tools that I have spoken about here.
– Check out http://www.bryonyandtim.com/ & go see their show if you can.
*thanks to the controversial hashtag #yogaeverydamnday – I use it, because sometimes those days do feel like damn days.
**for me it was better not to be on the meds, I am not recommending that meditation is medication for everybody. We all have and know what helps us best. But I always recommend a wise and well aligned exercise routine, enough rest, healthy eating, love and support, questioning your beliefs and conditioning, trusting yourself, and being in nature. (Ideally every day.)