~Written By- Sarah Bustamante
If you’ve ever tried to sit down, close your eyes, and quiet your mind, you may have noticed how difficult it can be. I describe it sometimes as a feeling of wanting to jump out of my skin! But how does it get to this point? How does it become so difficult to sit and listen? How does something that sounds so simple, become so complicated? And even if it were easy to sit and listen, would we even know how to begin to decipher all the messages showing up? Our minds and bodies become so loud that they almost seem to scream with racing thoughts and bodily buzzes when all we want to do is relax and find calm. Even when we think that a nice trip out-of- town and into the outdoors will ease our untamed minds, we take that serene hike up to the top of a beautiful mountain only to find that the buzz is still with us and we are still unable to connect with ourselves, let alone, with nature.
Sometimes the buzzing messages are subtle, and sometimes they are loud and clear. Sometimes it takes an illness or a trauma to remind us of what’s important in our lives. We get away from ourselves and further and further off path until we don’t even recognize that a path is there. Pain and illness have a way of driving us back into ourselves, forcing us to read the signs that we missed along the way, shouting “LOOK! I’M HERE!”
When we listen to these headlines, we are more likely to stay on our path. Like when we follow road signs we stay on course and make it to our destination safely. But when we never slow down, never stop when the signs say stop, never take caution when the sign is flashing yellow, we end up veering way off course and finding our sense of self to feel disorienting, not knowing which way is up, and feeling as if something is missing from our lives. Returning to practice is like reading the signs, or listening to the GPS tell us the right way to go.
Often times, we don’t heed the headlines (the directions) until we are headed off the edge of the cliff. Maybe this edge manifests itself as intense pain, illness, trauma, the death of a loved one, a natural disaster that sweeps away life as we know it, or a business decision gone horribly wrong. However it shows up, sometimes our bodies scream so loudly to be heard, that if we don’t listen in a gradual, quiet sort of a way on a regular basis, then the listening doesn’t happen until we are in such agony that it’s impossible not to listen. We are forced to bring everything in our lives to a halt, where a flashing red neon arrow says, “LOOK! SEE ME! I’M HERE! PAY ATTENTION!”, and we come to find that we are way off course.
In an eye-opening TED talk by Dr. Neha Sangwin, she explains that she would repeatedly see people coming into the emergency room with the same recurring problems and felt exhausted and discouraged with treating people after they were past the point of preventative care. She noticed that when many patients had reached this point of extreme vulnerability, that they sometimes gained very new and profound perspectives about their lives. To better understand how these patients ended up in her care, she began to ask them four simple questions the night before she discharged them from recovery, “why you?”, “why this ailment?”,”why now in your life?”, and “are there any messages that you’re getting from this?”.
These are the kinds of questions Michael Lee, Founder of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy (PRYT), asked himself after he experienced a sort of revelation after an intense experience at his edge in triangle pose, which he speaks about in his book, Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy: A Bridge from Body to Soul. Michael used some of the same types of questions when journaling about his post- triangle-pose experience, asking himself, “what really happened?”, “what did I feel?”, “what is the significance of this experience?”, “how does this affect my life?”, and “in what situations and when, have I felt this way before?”. Both Sangwin and Lee’s self-inquiry questions all boil down to some basic questions that humans have asked themselves over the course of human history, “who am I?”, “why am I?”, and “how am I meant to live?”.
Not only was it in having the experience itself that brought Dr. Sangwin’s patients and Michael to a point of new-found realization and clarity, but also in having someone witness their process. Where Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy comes into play is when we don’t know where to begin to create this space for ourselves to sit and listen. Sometimes whatever is screaming at us, whether through depression, an illness, or a major life decision, can make us feel so worn out and exhausted that it’s hard to muster up the motivation and energy to drag ourselves to our mats to practice deep listening and self-inquiry. Additionally, sometimes it’s hard to receive any clear messages at all when our thoughts and sensations become so loud. This is when going to a Phoenix Rising Yoga class or scheduling a private appointment with Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Practitioner is of great benefit.
Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy Teachers and Practitioners provide safety and support for you to hear your body’s messages, through non-judgmental witnessing, loving presence, and unconditional positive regard, offering you a mirror, so to speak, to decipher the meanings behind the messages, be they more subtle or loud and clear. Like Glinda telling Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz that she always had the power to go back home and that she had to find it within herself, PRYT Teachers and Practitioners offer a witness to your process, not veering you in one direction or another, but allowing you to find your own internal wisdom within and beyond that incessant, noisy, bodily buzz.