Sitting up on the table at the doctors office a few weeks back, I thought back to when. When Dr. V would take that little rubber mallet to the side of my knobby knee and my leg would shoot forward. Every time I would tell myself that I could outsmart it this time, and I would not, for any reason, kick out my leg. Oh yes, I’ve been fighting nature for a long long time : ) Show me where it hurts, he’d say. And I would say nowhere.
I go to the doctor only when it’s mandatory. When I was a kid I’d go to get cleared to play sports. When I was in college I went once for these headaches that wouldn’t go away, and they gave me birth control. We used to joke that no matter what you went into the health center for, the solution, as per the staff, was a script of birth control. Show me where it hurts, she’d say, but the answer didn’t matter anyway. As an adult I try to be compliant with my yearly things, but truth be told (and mom, sorry, this isn’t made to make you nervous) in the past 3 years I haven’t had consistent coverage, so I try not to step on the cracks on any sidewalk, and take my daily vitamins. (I’d ask you all to kindly knock on wood for me here).
A few weeks ago I found myself back on the table of a new doc. Doctor G. ‘Show me where it hurts’ she said, and so I pointed to the outside of my knee. Told her the things I could, and couldn’t do. Mmmhmmm, uh-huh, ohhhh, tell me more. She was a very compassionate Doc, I liked her right away. She spent some more time with me, we shot the breeze, I showed her a picture of Moose (I know, I am ridiculous) and she ordered me to go get an MRI. The injury happened about 3 months ago and I keep hoping that it will just heal itself, but the results came back this week and I have a tear. The recommendation is surgery. Still not sure what I’m going to do about that. My inner athlete tells me to just shake it off.
For whatever reason, these words keep coming to me. I literally cannot stop repeating them to myself.
Show me where it hurts.
Show me, where it hurts.
Show me. Where it hurts.
What I wonder about these words is, are we listening for the answers? As I shared in my last post to you all, my path has taken me down a road where I find myself sharing yoga in what could be considered vulnerable populations. In the past month alone through my experiences through yoga across America, as well as a private contract here is where I have been, here is where I have shared:
— yoga with wounded soldiers as they rehab back to living in the states as part of a special YAA event.
— yoga with amazing women who are going through treatment for cancer once a week.
— yoga with drug addicts 3 times a week who are trying to get clean.
— yoga with high school seniors who face challenges that we see in inner-city youth once a week.
— yoga with staff members who work in a shelter for women: a transitional home for women with addiction, homelessness, criminal pasts, etc once a month.
I asked to be of service. And so it goes. Living in Kenya working for the awe-inpsiring Africa Yoga Project, lit something in me, a big fire, that sharing this practice matters, deeply. What’s more, sharing with humility and compassion, must be. To share as an example that no matter how it hurts, or where it hurts, or that it’s hurt for so damn long you cannot even remember or imagine your life without pain….that it is so possible.
My beautiful friend Diana (ps take her class, workshop, etc, she’s the shit) shared with me recently when I had an experience that was taking me out, big time. She said:
‘this is activating some pain and shame you have about not belonging. It’s trying to clear out of your system so that what you do, and deserve to do wont be there. You don’t want to start your life’s purpose with that on you. Cry, scream, feel it all, but bless it and love it. Most importantly love yourself, and be gentle with yourself.’
‘take deep breaths and connect to your soul and say: I intend to be genuine and authentic. I intend to know the truth of why this happened. I know it’s not easy in the pain, but your victim is activated when things like this happen. Say this. I love myself. I have love in my heart. All is well’
I have believed and do believe that we are given the same lesson again and again until we finally say yes, thank you. Until we finally, as my beautiful friend shared, bless it and let it go. Until then it lives in us, and will reenact itself again and again, in many forms, so even though we may not believe we are easily fooled, we find ourselves again, in pain, as the victim, against the world.
Show me where it hurts.
As these words have been with me, I have this image that keeps coming to me, what if we asked our children, show me where it hurts, and we showed them how to point to their hearts. What if we then, listened as they told us how their little hearts were broken and afraid, at seeing things they did not understand. What if we asked our partners, our lovers, our coworkers, our fellow human beings. As adults we think, they should know better, but a broken adult is a broken kid with a heart that never mended.
And then we listened. To where it hurts. What if we gave them a hand, maybe 2, in that even if their pain was triggering our own, that maybe we have a better shot, if we got the hell out of there together. What if we really did, bless it, and let it go.
I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but what inspired me to write about it was from the class I taught this morning at Sac high. One of the seniors there, she’s been out the past few weeks, she and her Mom were in a car wreck, I knew it was bad. She had a hard time coming to school the past month, her mom’s injuries are severe and she tries not to leave the hospital. She is valedictorian of her class, she is resilent, she is strong. She was back this morning, came running full-on, right to me, ‘I missed you!’ she smiled, ‘I missed yoga!’ We got to catch up, the injuries are bad enough that this week they had to amputate her mothers leg. This is the same girl, who last time I saw her, a bullet game right through her home and lodged into her closet door, gang related violence. Her father passed away several years ago. And though she doesnt say it, I know she feels responsible for her family. I know it because she reminds me so much of who I was when I was 18. She is headed to Berkely in the Fall…but I’m worried that she will be too anxious to go. I wonder who is going to take her shopping for the things she needs for her dorms. I wonder who is going to take her to college. I wonder if her Mom will make any of this her fault. I wonder if she will make any of this her fault. And I wonder about the other person, driving the car that hit them, I wonder if it feels like a burden to know how much their reckless driving has changed a family of lives. I am working on a plan that will get her to Berkely and keep her there, with her amazing coordinator, we are working on a plan. For today? I shared a practice that was very heart focused, again and again we drew our hands to our heart. My intention is this, is she could identify where the pain was. To feel her heart beat. I wonder where her trauma lives in all of this? If I she can find her way to her heart again and again, maybe the trauma wont live as long. She is a very special kid.
It’s my sole purpose when I teach yoga. To share from a space that others bring to the surface years of pain that they hid, repressed, damned. To bring it to the surface, and then to flow through it. I love teaching vinyasa yoga because of the flow.
It’s my soul purpose too to uncover the joy. Don’t you see, we all have SO MUCH JOY, and it’s there, I promise you. And sometimes it’s the blessing of a friend to remind you of that. And here’s what’s more, you are so worthy of that joy.
To the surface. Flow through. To the joy.
I asked to be of service, and here I am. I feel these folks: these soldiers back from war, these women with their breasts and hair gone, these addicts who are trying to live in the world no longer numb. And all I can picture is them pointing to their hearts. To show me where it hurts. And all I can do is breathe too, and when my victim is triggered, I can ask to know the truth of the moment, because I am not here to meet their pain with mine. I am here to bless their pain with joy. Because of what others have done for me, so will I.
I have also begun to teach regular flow classes, vinyasa baby, it’s been just one week at this beautiful new place yoga Shala, but oh lawwwwwd does it feel good. It feels like home. It’s helping me balance and recharge so that I can go into the environments where the pain is a little more obvious, so I can be there and not run away. It’s a beautiful studio of beautiful beings that lift me, as I flow through. I feel at peace here. It’s taking me some time…it’s been a good year since I’ve taught with any regularity, but it feels so good to be back on the hardwood floor.
‘Be brave enough to break your own heart’ – cheryl strayed
But please be accountable to build again. You cannot live life with your broken heart. You cannot be someone who always talks about their pain, show us, yes, but then begin to move forward. If you do not, people will not be able to support you always, they will not know where your pain begins and where theirs ends. They will grow tired and resentful. Because there is no end, when you live your life like that. I know, because I have. And in my human state, sometimes I still do. But when I am joy, I am met with joy. When I am truth, I am met with truth. When I am love…yep, you guessed it.
Look around your life right now. Who are you being? Who do you want to be? Get clear. Move on. Flow through.