How Do We Begin By: Brynn Scally
How do I begin. I have the best job in the world. I often say my work over the past ten years as a yoga teacher has been my greatest healer. This being mental health month, I was reluctant to write a blog for the studio as this topic is so fraught and heavy for me. Even though yoga has been the greatest asset for my mental health and requires a level of attunement necessary to guide a group of energies, it’s still very easy to hide behind the calming words and the appearances of the persona without really facing new demons (or old rather) that pop up.
In one way yoga has done the work for me but I find myself realizing again and again that It takes constant vigilance to recognize that the residue of self hatred sometimes can start to reignite. Comparison, fear, imposter syndrome, none of us are immune. My issues with shame and self harm may not be presenting themselves in the obvious ways that they used to, but they reappear as small fires that need tending. Maybe Its no longer the 17 year old shame making me want to sink into the floor and out of my body, but maybe it worms through as a voice telling me that I have to “work” harder or do “better”. The self harm may no longer look like me taking harmful drugs and putting myself in dangerous situations, but sneaks through in self sabotage and weak boundaries. Once recognized I sometimes get down on myself for still having so far to go.
It occurred to me during a recent small group discussion, that each persons struggles have also been my struggles, we have all at some time or another walked the same path. As I practiced after the discussion I remembered a lesson I keep learning, that time + yoga = healing. The yoga is the work of coming back to the present and through time the healing happens. The length of time can’t be quantified or compared with how “healed” others appear to be. During the practice that day my teacher asked at one point if the pose felt “honest”. This resonated. Was I playing a roll? How was I showing up in this moment? What’s underneath how we think things are suppose to look?
My old meditation leader, a long time ago, used to start each session with the question “how do we begin”? This began or practice and required no answer. Whether we are just starting, in the middle, or at the end,,how do we begin? Starting with the question, the inquiry. Circling back around and tending to the small fires, does not mean I’m losing some race of mental healing, it means I’m giving care and value to my life. Tending to myself with the spaciousness that comes from and open ended question.