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It’s ok

October 21, 2011

The last two days, I’ve had trouble filling my lungs to the top. You probably know that feeling–the really unsettling one when you inhale deeply only to find some hitch or a catch preventing a full intake.

The other day, I did a beginner’s yoga class. At the end, the instructor guided me through a simple meditation. He asked that I pay attention to the energy flow in my body and to pay attention to any places which felt tight. I added cold to that description and found the space between my shoulder blades, on the back of my lungs. Stuck, mid-inhale, wanting more but unable to take more.

As bedtime approached tonight, I began to feel like a restless, caged tiger. PMS is a very real part of my life and this month is no exception. As I stepped through the fall-out of a clutter from a family of four, I heard myself saying,

What IS this blanket doing in the entry way?

YOU’D better take those stuffed animals upstairs with you.

When I come back downstairs, I EXPECT this counter to be clear.

When I feel so tumultuous inside, I begin to (try to) manipulate my exterior surroundings into a fastidious oasis. When the physical clutter begins to mimic my mental clutter, all hell breaks loose.

After the kids were hugged and kissed and tucked, I found myself in the mood of inbetween. Not sure what to do; or, more accurately, not sure what to do to make myself feel calm. Write? Nope. Read? Nuttuh. Movie? Negative-ghost-rider-the-pattern-is-full. I then remembered an evening relaxation session on and cued it up. As I began, my mood was foul. Flustering and blustering, frustrated and tight. I restarted the session.

I tried so hard to relax. (Yes, now I see the incredible irony here.) When I stopped trying so damned hard, I suddenly found myself with air in my lungs and extremities. As my legs stretched up the wall, I suddenly felt this small, yellowish/whitish light, like a tiny glass jar filled with fire flies. It was a brief snippet. A stunning, brief snippet, but it was there. It felt like Peace.

At the end, in Savasana, I could not gain relaxation in my upper chest. That same catch, hitch, whatever-the-hell sat there. Taunting me. I attempted to just notice the feeling. I attempted to diagnose it and examine it from many angles. I started to get pissed at the lovely man narrating my quiet meditation because he kept telling me about how peaceful and magical this relaxation was and all I could think was,

Nope, not for me. Not feeling it.

Instead, I felt like a fake. There I lay, in the dimmed family room, on my purple mat, like a kid pretending to be asleep. I finally took my arms out of corpse pose and folded my arms onto my chest.

My heart beat a staccato Morse code. Not one of relaxation, but of a rapid message desiring translation. I realized I don’t have the code. I can’t translate it. I could only acknowledge it.

And then, like a breeze, I heard,

It’s ok, sweetheart. 

(After reading Dani Shapiro’s Devotion, amid a lengthy list of thoughts and impressions, I knew I wanted to, needed to, read Syliva Boorstein, Dani’s beloved teacher and friend. I borrowed a Sylvia Boorstein book from the library. I don’t remember which of Sylvia’s books I borrowed, nor do I remember the exact quote from which I know these beautiful words, It’s ok, sprang. But I do remember this: Sylvia talked about being gentle with ourselves. She posits that during grim times, it’s important to just say to ourselves, It’s ok, sweetheart.)

I kept mentally turning these words, working them like a smooth river rock,

It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s ok.

And suddenly, it was. My heart beat didn’t slow down; it kept its quick pace even after my mat was rolled up and I sat at my computer, writing. The only difference: I relaxed into what was. I didn’t try to change it. I didn’t manipulate it. I didn’t try to tidy it up. Who am I to quiet my heart? Instead, I’m going to try to quiet my mind and listen to what story my heart wants to tell. And in the meantime, I’ll remember:

It’s ok. 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 21, 2011 7:02 am

    Yes, it’s ok. I need to remember this too. This is gorgeous. I love the image of a jar of fireflies. xoxo

  2. October 21, 2011 8:16 am

    Holy woman…THIS is incredible, how closely you paid attention and how well you’ve shown us the process. I’ve felt this so often, and with practice I’ve found the calming comes easier, but not always. Indeed it is okay, and digging right down and realizing that can be an incredible gift to yourself.

  3. October 22, 2011 9:04 pm

    It’s like you are hiding in the bushes right outside my own mind. I do the EXACT same thing. I have to say, it’s so comforting to know I am not the only one who sprays the counters down when the going gets rough.

    This hit me like a stone: Who am I to quiet my heart? Instead, I’m going to try to quiet my mind and listen to what story my heart wants to tell.

    That may be one of the most beautiful sentences I have read. You are a born yogi and teacher. Namaste.

  4. October 25, 2011 10:53 am

    “When I feel so tumultuous inside, I begin to (try to) manipulate my exterior surroundings into a fastidious oasis. When the physical clutter begins to mimic my mental clutter, all hell breaks loose.” Yes! This describes me too. It’s funny but when I get mad, I get cleaning!

    I love yoga and what it does for me yet I’ve not had the chance to get back into it since my maternity leave. I miss it and need it but I’m not sure where to find the time for it. Still I strive to be gentle with myself, which includes telling myself that it’s OK if I don’t find the time for yoga. To stress out about not having the time to yoga would be rather ironic. 🙂

Give me your grit.

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