Learning from Suffering by Embracing our Vulnerability

When Janine came to her first Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy session, she was completely exhausted and felt overburdened with life. Between taking care of two small children, working a full-time job, and carrying the financial strain of a house that had fallen into disrepair, she was left feeling stressed out, drained, and unmotivated. She felt as if she would never achieve her dream of going back to school to get her PhD. To cope, she spent what little spare time she had zoned out in front of the tv, overeating, and gaining weight as a result. She knew something had to change, but wasn’t quite sure how or where to begin. She felt stuck.  Sigh Pic

When we experience mental, emotional, and physical discomfort, we often feel helpless and adopt an attitude of “how can I just make this discomfort go away?” Each time we distract ourselves and avoid suffering it’s like putting on another mask that distorts our vision, making us unable to recognize the internal patterns that hinder us from changing ourselves and the situations we keep finding ourselves in. We get caught in a paradigm paralysis in which we can’t see beyond our current ways of being and therefore remain powerless and changeless in the midst of it all. But what happens when we fully experience suffering and allow ourselves to fully feel the vulnerability we so often push away?

Brene Brown, researcher and storyteller says, “vulnerability is the core of shame, fear, and our struggle for worthiness, but it is also the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love.” When we allow ourselves to be curious about discomfort, accepting it as an inevitable part of life, then we fully experience our wholeness. In this experience we find that our bodies give us clues and answers as to what choices and actions will further our development and contentment in life. The key is learning to listen, even when the discomfort makes us want to close our eyes, stick our fingers in our ears, and yell, “la, la, la, la, la!”

When you come to a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy session, all parts of you get to show up; breath, body, emotions, thoughts, life circumstances, whatever it may be. It’s all about taking the wealth of information you have stored in your body, getting to know it in a very intimate way, and then using it as a springboard for living life in a more proactive and fulfilling way. In one session, you might learn from laughter, in another, from that incessant pain in your knee, and yet in another, from a past memory that’s been hard to let go. Through meditation, movement, and dialogue, the therapist safely supports you in being self-aware and self-present, bringing focused attention to your body, and deciphering the messages it is sending out. The therapist does not give advice, but instead empowers you to find your own answers from within. This is when a paradigm shift occurs and you begin to see yourself as your greatest teacher, gaining a sense of clarity and knowing that you could never find through numbing and avoidance.

The thing that stood out the most to Janine during her Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy appointment was how stuck she felt. With the therapists support, she was able to recognize some of the triggers that were causing her sense of stuckness and notice how they showed up in her life as zoning out and overeating. As Janine listened to her body and tapped into her inner wisdom, the advice she found was to “move” every time she noticed feeling stuck again. To put this advice into action in her daily life, the first tangible step she came up with was to skip watching tv that evening and take a walk with her children instead. In this way, Janine took the first steps, literally, to change her relationship to discomfort. When Janine left her Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy appointment that day, she felt as if that stuck feeling had somehow started to loosen up and for the first time in a long time, felt inspired and motivated to change.