slow, mindful yoga & small group classes in St Kilda, Balaclava, Elwood, bayside

Yoga Me Well Blog Archive

Manage the Inner Storms

Every year-end, a few lovely people, dangling from the end of a tether, get in touch with an urgent need for support.

THE STORM BREAKS

They share challenging stories, ones that I tackle in my own practice: career or family issues, exhaustion, loss of direction. These are compassionate, intelligent, frustrated people who feel themselves unravelled, floundering in discomfort, straining to see the way forward.  

It takes courage to acknowledge when we are not coping.

I love this quote, borrowed from yoga teacher Donna Farhi’s newsletter:

“​​It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.” 

~ ​​Wendell Berry

 

ADRIFT AND AFRAID 

When we find ourselves stuck on the pin, wriggling in discomfort, we yearn for release.

Our coping mechanisms may be over-eating, drinking, exercising, or drug-taking.  Venting on those closest to us is popular, adding to our discomfort and theirs. Or, we turn the frustration inward, gnawing dangerously at our resilience. A well of angst eventually propels upward to gush out.

Then we shake our fist at the moon, pound a pillow, slam a door or drive around screaming in the vacuum of our car, roughly handle a child, a pet.  

Like the leaves on drought-stricken trees, parched and withered from the lack of healing rain, we sometimes fall to the gutter, spent.

FIND A WITNESS

Perhaps it’s the Darwinian gene prodding us to survive, amped by the cultural dictum “to strive” that pushes us to the precipice before we act.

Too often, only then we ask for support. If we are lucky, we have a Witness, a trusted person to turn to. Or we employ one.

The Witness is a gift. Unflinching, they listen without offering a fix and acknowledge that we are in the fire. They reflect back that our pain has foundation and that we are not going mad.

That pure support can be enough to lift us back into the life raft and uncover our reserves.

BECOME THE WITNESS

Yoga teaches us to witness when we are not coping.  Yoga philosophy calls this “ahimsa”, or the practice of non-harm to self and others. It is one of the “yama” principles, part of the 8-Limbs of yoga, or guidelines for yogic living.

Acknowledgement begins the process of dealing with the angst. We commit to treating ourselves gently, and reassure ourselves that this period is temporary.

“Yes, I have lost my ground, I feel overwhelmed and vulnerable, and it’s going to be okay. Maybe not today, but with self-care and patience. No matter how long it takes, I will be okay.”

We being to observe ourselves intimately. In daily life, we catch ourselves– in thought and action – and recognise the warning signs of self-defeating patterns of behaviour that contribute to poor, often cyclical, outcomes.

In the evenness and peace we find after a mat practice, for example, or gardening, long walks, time in nature, we build on a foundation of ‘knowing’ that quietness exists palpably within.

When crisis flares, we are less afraid to acknowledge it.

 “Okaaay, my thinking and behaviour suggest I’m having a crisis!” And invites us to do something about it. So we go wild for a bit. That’s pretty standard. And tiring and it increases the spiral.

When it’s time to move on, we distract ourselves productively in self-soothing activities (time with friends, comic movies, walks, spring cleaning, travel). As we experience the pay-off of yogic practices, the mind becomes more agile at diminishing thoughts that promote spiralling.

Once the freneticism of crisis settles, we reflect on how we have contributed to that difficult time, and sit tenderly with that confronting knowledge. Humbled, but wiser for the experience, we renew our commitment to stand up, dust-off and attempt things differently.

Paying attention to our Self on every level, we discover the practice of sitting with and moving through inner storms. Genuine climate change takes commitment and patience and agreement from all parts of our Self.

Join Liv’s friendly small yoga groups for practice on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays in St Kilda and East St Kilda.

Inquiries: 0409 473 162 or livmitchell@ozemail.com.au

 

Liv Mitchell

Liv Mitchell is a hatha yoga teacher, relaxation instructor and freelance writer/editor who specialises in holistic wellbeing.

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