This morning I was teaching an advanced yoga class with some pretty amazing ladies. We're working with the heart chakra this year, and I relayed the fact that our actual heart is always doing that which is was made to do. From the time we were in utero, the pulsing of the chambers have repeated the same rhythm over and over again. The same is true with the breath. From the moment of our birth, the pattern is the same -- breathe in...breath out.
In yoga speak, the breath represents the present moment as the element of the heart chakra is air -- the connection to our spirit. I've been researching mythology for the novel I'm currently writing and recently found a DVD about Greek gods and goddesses. Psyche is the word ancient Greeks used to describe the soul -- a very different interpretation than psychologists of modern day, who define it as "the totality of the human mind, conscious and unconscious." But as my ever-evolving life reminds me, the way to the Divine cannot be truly found through the mind...but through the heart. Our thoughts may play tricks on us. Our memory may fail. We may change our opinions or learn new things that bring greater awareness.
Through it all, the breath and the heartbeat are two constants that never change until the moment we leave the earth. I imagine this is why the Judeo-Christian God is called the "Great I Am," not the "Great I Was," or the "Great I Will Be."
To the Greeks, the psyche is also linked to the word "breath," so it follows that our respiration is intimately connected to our spirits. Our respiratory system has the root word "re-spirit," so every time we fill our lungs, we are literally breathing in new life and then letting it go.
This is one of the hallmark lessons of the heart chakra: to learn how to receive the present moment and then let it go. Receive and release. Receive and release. The more we release, the more room we have to receive and on and on and on.
For many of us, it's our nature to hold on to tangible things. To thought patterns. To beliefs. To old patterns of behavior. To the past. To let go is scary and unsettling. But I imagine many of you know the release and relief of clearing out a closet or getting rid of things you no longer need on the road to simplifying your life. Clearing the psyche can be just as freeing...if not more so.
I've been peeling of the layers of my past for decades and am finally ready to embody a conversation I had with a therapist more than ten years ago. At the time, the idea resonated with me. Now I'm more than willing to step into the reality of what might be created if I actually live it.
During a particularly frustrating session, I told my therapist that I was tired of talking about my childhood. Tired of rehashing old junk about relationships and my off-and-on depression. I wanted to get a grip with my present life and take steps to move forward.
"I'm sick and tired of coming in here and telling the same old story," I told Barry. "Can't we just move on?"
Barry looked at me broodingly, then reminded me of a very traumatic event from my past. "You can't ever say that didn't happen."
I looked him in the eye and pointedly replied, "It's not happening NOW."
Barry startled for a moment, then brought up a traumatic event from his life and said, "I can never say my grandfather never beat me senseless."
"He's not beating you now...," I said, finally realizing why I was feeling stagnant in therapy. "Unless you want him to be."
I left Barry's office recognizing the simple truth that therapists, teachers, or anyone I went to for guidance can only take me as far as they've ventured into their own healing journey.
It was time to move on.
One thing has been a constant these past sixteen years. Every summer I visit my friend, Tony, for an advanced series of Rolfing. (For more information about Rolfing, see the link below.) Every year I get back on the table, unsure of what will happen, but willing to once again go down the rabbit hole of an experience that's designed to integrate the whole of my being.
On a physical sense, Rolfing creates more room for the breath. "We free up your body so your soul can boogie," Tony said once years ago. As he moves my fascia around, creating length and liberation, I can literally feel myself unwinding. Sinking into the moment more fully. Standing with awareness. With peace and support and integrity.
On a metaphysical level, Rolfing creates space in my life for more than just my muscles and skeletal system. It allows me to more fully let go of the energy of the past. This year I'm tied up in my pelvis and jaw...both ends of the spinal spectrum which are revealing to me thought patterns and behaviors that no longer suit who I'm becoming now.
I've been getting ready for this three series ever since I scheduled it last April. Think of it as a three-and-a-half month preparation for a yard sale. I've sifted and sorted. Sweat and cursed and cried. Taken many trips down memory lane and kicked to the curb the crap I know no one would ever want to buy.
It's been a tedious and often frustrating process. If you've been following my blog, you've seen some of the highlights. But it's the deeper stuff I'm getting into this weekend and in the weeks to come as I begin my annual trek into the rabbit hole of mysteries...a sacred place that's not unlike a cocoon, a cave, a tomb into which I cloister myself to do the inner work necessary to allow myself to become something new.
So this will be my last blog for a month or so. I'm letting go of the outer world as much as I can while I do the inner work my spirit is calling me to enter. I'll return at the end of August with new stories to share with you. Until then I'll keep breathing, continue to watch my heartbeat, and remain watchful for that which is gently being created in the present moment.
For now, I'll be traveling to the dark side of the moon once again in silence... and look forward to seeing you on the other side.