Exhale.


Tonight, in yoga, I asked myself: “What is my body trying to teach me? What has it already taught me, here, in these rooms, on this mat? What have I learned from you?” I kept going with the class, reflecting on those questions as I moved from one pose to the next, my center strong, my balance holding firm, my body moving through the air as through water. That is one of my favorite feelings – my body holding itself, moving with grace and precision and control into exactly the next right place. To know when and where to hold, to let go, to move. To feel safe and in control. To know that I can trust my body to take me where I need to go. To be present with myself, taking instruction from outside and integrating it completely with my deepest inner knowing. And when that happens, I flow.

And then it comes to me “My body has taught me that when I am present with myself, when I go inside and pay attention, when I listen for and to that still small voice inside, it is there. Not only is it there, but it knows exactly what I need to do - knows how to integrate all of what I’ve heard and learned to allow me to express what I need, what is true: Lift off your hip. Lean back. Engage your shoulders. Open your chest. Press your outer foot into the mat. Pull into your center. Keep your focus. Soften. Sink. Be still.

I know what to do. When I pay attention, when I listen, when I show up day after day and remain committed to myself and my practice, the miracle happens. When I listen to that still small voice my body can do things I never thought it could do. I have shown myself time and again that I am stronger than I ever thought I could be. That I am capable of moving in ways I never thought I could move. That poses which once seemed impossible suddenly are not, and not only are they not, but they become weightless and joyful. I become free. That when I listen to that voice, that which once felt impossible – this thing that once felt so unknown to me – my body – becomes a vessel through which I can feel alive, held, and whole. And then I think: Maybe my still small voice can do that in ALL areas of my life? Maybe, if I remain committed to trusting that voice, I can experience that same liberation off the mat as I have experienced on the mat. I know there are days when I will not get it right – those days happen in yoga, too – but in yoga it’s the practice of coming back to my mat, being willing to stay ON my mat even when I want to jump off, and always bringing myself back to myself, that serves me best. Maybe I just have to do the same thing out there: Stay committed. Keep coming back to myself. Pay attention. Practice listening for that still soft voice. Be quiet. Hear her. Take direction from her. Trust her. Have faith that she knows.

The class ends and we are lying in savasana. It’s quiet and dark and I feel peaceful and steady. Almost out of nowhere, I hear a calm, tender voice within me say “I’m sorry,” with so much love and humility, so much grace, that it catches me off guard. But I know it is me – the deep, warrior, divine, adult me – speaking to my younger, scared, teenage self. I hear her reply with love and forgiveness, with a knowing that my apology is real and true, that her fear, hurt, anger, and disappointment have been acknowledged and heard, “It’s okay,” she says. And in that moment, I know that there is no easier softer way. There is nothing, no one, to exhale into except my own arms, that great inner resource inside me. I am what I have always been looking for. There is no one else to be my savior, no one else to be my hero or my best friend, except me. And because God loves me just as I am, just as I have always been, I can forgive myself for loving myself so imperfectly. I can exhale completely into myself. I don’t have to wait for Ian or anyone else to make me feel loved or held or safe. I am in charge of that now, and it’s not lonely. It’s liberating. To trust that if I keep paying attention, keep listening, keep coming back I will always know exactly where to put my body, my heart, and my soul.
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