i think i used to be someone who always seemed happy, who always was happy, because i ignored my feelings for the most part. i worked instead. i read instead. i retreated into books instead. i relied on my faith instead. instead of what? instead of seeing the actual situation that was around me. i was good at ignoring things.
of course a part of me was actually happy. it’s not like my life was or has been horrible. not in the least. but, there were things, situations, that were not great. really tough and painful. still, i plugged right on. i remember my family and others asking me how i could be so freaking positive all the time. i couldn’t explain it. and while i hid behind my faith some, i also had (and still have) this deep, deep theological knowing that this world and all of us in it, were created in the image of beauty and peace. to be whole and healed. and even though things have gone crazy, and there is suffering and pain and confusion and really, really bad stuff, in the end (the end of what, i don’t know), true peace and beauty will win again. love wins. always. i have always believed that. and, therefore, i have always had hope. so there was (and is) truth to my happiness.
but, at one point, i relied on that hope, and those beliefs, so much that i refused to see and accept the situation i was in. i simply stopped feeling negative and bad things. i became incapable of feeling bad somehow, because it hurt too much. and i had no idea i was even doing this.
however, over time, i discovered all my feelings again. with the help of some honest friends and the courage to find someone to talk with, i found the courage to let all my feelings bubble to the surface. and i discovered the joy of feeling all of my feelings. the freedom it gives me. the more healthy i become when i let myself feel.
that was some six years ago. i can definitely say that learning to accept and feel the situation in which i find myself is not fun all the time, but it is way more fulfilling than living in la la land. it’s more honest. more real… which makes for a more true experience of living life.
today i went to a 2 hour yoga class. a special class offered by my yoga instructor centered around new beginnings, renewal, and cleansing the body and mind… symbolic of the season which we are in right now. for me, yoga has become part of my learning to accept. because acceptance has to do with the present moment. it’s not living in the past and dragging everything with us. it is not living for the future, always hoping that things will be better and ignoring today. no, the present moment is about being… well, present. accepting what is. feeling whatever feeling bubbles up.
yoga reminds me to center myself. to breathe. to simply be. accept what is and breathe through it.
sometimes the situation i find myself in in life is crappy. and sometimes it’s bliss. but, i seek to stay steady and calm no matter what, like a tree standing firm & strong, whether the wind fiercely blows through its branches or a calm breeze gently tickles its leaves. and one of the ways that i seek to obtain that balance and acceptance is through yoga. i have learned that only when we begin to accept things and live in the present moment, can we be ready to move forward. and if i want my dreams to come true, i gotta be ready & willing to move forward.
today, as i sat in my yoga class for two hours, cleansing my body and mind and soul, i let myself just be me. every time i let a breath out, i let go of all of the roles i play: wife, daughter, sister, writer, minister, teacher, friend… i just let me be me. just my body, soul, and mind together. nothing else. i gave myself that time. and i paid attention to my feelings… all of the them: joy, hope, excitement, fear, frustration, sadness, peace, love.
and in the end, after feeling my emotions, my body, my brain, & my soul found a place of peace and quiet. i felt balanced. energized. strong.
so, i’ve learned a lot in the past few years. and i think i understand a little bit more about true happiness. the kind of happiness that comes from within. happiness which comes from a soul that feels, a soul that is honest and accepting; and that, because of that honesty and acceptance, grows stronger and finds more inner peace as each day passes – come what may.
this peace i seek is how i deal with the days and periods in life that are not so great. this peace helps to stabilize me, ground me, and inspire me. this peace teaches me that to accept each moment as it is and to feel every emotion is so much more life-giving and freeing than simple happiness in good times. i have not conquered this inner peace, but it is part of my journey, and each day i hope that i become more and more whole, more and more true to myself.
What an amazing post! I too feel that yoga teaches us a lot about the present moment and how to live in it, which is why it was so hard for me to do it when I was younger (and less focused on the present but more on the future). Great thoughts in this post!
thank you so much, laura! xo
Hello dear Liz,
I was looking for a quote that I found recently that came to mind while reading your post, but couldn’t find it for some reason, sorry. Basically what it said was “when you push down our emotions, we lose touch with ourselves and carry the heavy burden of being lonely for ourselves.” Feeling all our feelings is a hard road to walk, but one that brings us slowly, but surely back to ourselves, a homecoming well worth all the effort. Good and healing thoughts to you and to those you love.
You didn’t need to find that quote. What you wrote is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Much love and peace to you.
Mmmh so that’s what you’re supposed to do in Yoga?! Haha I guess me using it as a stretch and flex class was an experiment bound to fail… I was more flexible than most of them tho so my competitive mind was bery happy
Oh, Nicole…. you and your competitive spirit. Not all things are for all people. I’d break my ass if I tried to hang on to a pole. 😉 Love you!
Good post….I appreciate you sharing this piece of you here….I don’t think that experiencing my full range of emotions has ever been an issue for me…I don’t think too many people would accuse me of being overly optimistic…at the expense of ignoring the more painful feelings…If anything they are where I tend to get stuck…But I am beginning to learn about mindfulness as a way to be in the present and learn to find the space before and after the habitual automatic negative thoughts that can send me into downward emotional spirals…What’s in common between your challenge and mine? The learning to be in the present…
Ahhhh, yes. The challenge of the present moment. Amazing how that’s what we’re all striving for, even from different perspectives and understandings. Peace to you on your journey.