Let me start my first Wellness Wednesday of 2016 with a little bit of facetiousness. I GAINED a lot in 2015, including a lovely 50 lbs and 30 inches. Boo. But I’m tired of focusing on negative gains, and I’m tired of whining about how awful 2015 was. Let it go, let it go. *cue Elsa*
It’s time to acknowledge the positive gains, and let those bring me into a good foundation for 2016. Those would be:
- a mental health diagnosis that put 25 years of illness and struggle into perspective, and started me on a path toward healing
- an understanding and appreciation for particular psychological and psycho-social needs, such as attachment theory, touch therapy, roots of addiction, and the affects of breath and meditation on the body and anxiety issues
- the ability to draw my friends in close without putting up self-protective barriers
- an amazing social support network that literally saved my life
- a promise and commitment previously withheld and denied and broken
- a lovely new home in the heart of where I belong
- an inkling of where I want to move my future career path
- an emerging and evolving ability to love my body regardless of weight and size
Lastly, I made the great discovery of yoga this past year, and it’s on this discovery, this gain, that I’m beginning the new year.
I didn’t hate Eat Pray Love the way so many others did. I didn’t love it to pieces, but I enjoyed the book, and the section that takes place in India has particularly stuck with me. I don’t have any particular faith or religion, nor am I an atheist. I could best be described as an agnostic human secularist. However, I am very interested in the foundations of various religions, particularly those outside my upbringing (ie NOT christian). I grew up without any exposure to yoga, especially as a religious practice. Let me state for the record that I still know very little about it in this context, and don’t believe Eat Pray Love taught me anything about it. What it did do was pique my interest in using yoga as a way to connect with my body and internal emotional state. Bessel van der Kolk increased that interest in an article about yoga and PTSD, prompting me to read The Body Keeps the Score last year.
My approach to yoga in 2015 was cautious, hesitant, and unsure. I was afraid to take a class because I knew nothing about the practice, and so I ordered videos from the library and tried them out. I asked for suggestions from friends, and checked out online video-classes. Some were awful, some were wonderful, and some were obviously not for me. In using the wonderful ones, I discovered just how much yoga helped me physically, mentally, and emotionally. It became especially important to me as a grounding exercise for when my anxiety and PTSD symptoms grew so bad that I began dissociating (ie being suddenly unable to feel random body parts, or feeling like I was separate from my body altogether).
I had to give up yoga this past August when I sprained my ankle. It’s been more than four months now, and while my foot is nowhere near fully healed – it was a full foot-sprain, I’ve since been told, and will take a year to heal, sigh – I can finally do things like sit cross-legged and stand on the foot if I hold onto a wall for balance. So I have to modify my yoga, and skip anything that involves moving my foot into particular positions, but that’s okay. I’m okay. There’s been a hole ripped into me for much of the last few years, and I’m learning to fill it up with something other than food, alcohol, and tears. Learning to breath, to balance, to center myself, to meditate. To heal from the inside out.