Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Living a Yoga Life - Letting Go

A few weeks ago I had a very powerful experience with a meditation practice from Erich Schiffmann's book, Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness (affiliate). And not only was it very emotional for me in the moment, but I ended up crying in one of my teacher training classes as I related the experience to everyone else.

The exercise is to count the breath. Starting at 50, and working toward zero, each breath corresponds to a count. The even numbers are on the exhale, with the odd numbers on the inhale. Once twenty is reached, only the exhales are counted. Once zero is reached, the natural flow of the breath resumes, and the counting ceases.

When I started this meditation, it immediately reminded me of when my second-born was colicky. He always screamed from about 5pm until 10pm or later, every night. If he wasn't nursing, or being held, he was screaming. Sometimes even being held wasn't enough, and he would only be soothed if I bounced on the edge of the bed, or on an exercise ball, while holding him. My husband worked incredibly long hours during our son's colicky stage, and was often gone well into the night. Even when he was home, our son would scream for up to an hour if dad tried to soothe him to sleep instead of me. So I bounced our son endlessly. And while I bounced, I counted. Each bounce was a number, and I'd force myself to close my eyes and count until at least 100 before I'd allow myself to peek and see if my baby was finally asleep. Some nights I'd count to 100 dozens of times.

This meditation exercise brought me back to the year+ I spent bouncing and counting with my son. Back to when I only slept for 4 hours, sitting up, in every 24-hour period. Back to when the screaming never seemed to stop. Back to when I felt I was neglecting my first-born just so I could keep the baby from crying until he was blue in the face. Back to when I was constantly anxious and depressed and wished I no longer existed.

this is helpings
 But, as I breathed and counted per Schiffmann's instructions, I tried to let go of all that. By the time I counted down to eight, I started crying. I felt a release. A weight lifted from my chest. My son is 2.5 years old now and sleeps through the night. He no longer screams if someone other than me holds him. I'm no longer afraid to leave the house, or leave him in the care of someone else. I survived.

And hopefully this means rhythmic counting will no longer hold the negative association it once did. Hopefully I've put some of that trauma behind me.

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