Healing More Than My Leg
Dearest Yogis, Friends,and Lovers,
An unbelievable thing happened to me that woke me up to the truth about healing. I broke my leg at Burning Man - in the middle of the desert, in a place I had been working hard to get back to for the past 365 days, and I was 3 hours from the nearest hospital. Breaking my leg meant that I had to leave Burning Man and there was potential to not be able to go back. Needless to say, I broke my leg at the worst possible time and I was ANGRY.
My truth is that the healing started even before I broke my leg. As a student of yoga, I am constantly looking at myself and seeing where my limitations are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and attempting to overcome them. In the months leading up to BM, I actually had been working on the emotion of anger. It is not about the anger itself as I believe all emotion is healthy and hold lessons within them, but what am I doing with the energy behind anger? We have anger for all sorts of reasons, from being hard on ourselves and our pasts to global anger about the state of current affairs. What usually happens is that instead of using our emotions as tools and harness the energy, it accumulates as stress and can direct our world view towards more despairing and pessimistic.
What I had started to realize is that the only way I was going to harness this anger was by LOVING the challenge it was offering me. In the Yoga Sutras, Pantanjali explains that the result of practicing asana (yogic postures and seated meditation) is that opposites will cease to have an impact. I have sensed over the years how this has worked in my own life. For example, I no longer am as deeply effected by either hot or cold temperatures. I no longer get stressed out when things don’t go my way, i.e, car repair, parking tickets, my i-phone glass breaks). I am rarely caught up in the “this is good, this is bad” judgement game…I attempt to see both sides without putting emotional charges on it. I have been through hell and back with relationships… You get the point…. by now a lot of things in life that could be considered a curve ball no longer throw me from my center.
A common metaphor for yoga is it’s like peeling back the layers of an onion…. and you know… Onions make me cry…. meaning there is nothing easy about introspection, hardly anything easy about transformation. Also, the onion is referring to the fact that in the end each layer is very similar to the layer around it, just slightly more condensed, more potent. As I continue to study myself (svadyaya), I realize that a lot of the conditions I am attempting to untie myself from have a much stronger hold on me than I thought. I remove a layer (i.e. how I react to things that make me angry) thinking it is gone for good and then years later it shows up again simply with a different outfit on.
After years of practicing the art of transformation, the component that seems the hardest to me is what Patanjali describes as “Sukha”. We define it as ease, comfort, good space. As I get older, what it has come to mean besides being spacious in my asana practice, being easy on myself, being softer with myself, no longer judging myself…. Is 1. Love all of myself and not hating the part of me that broke my leg….. and 2. Surrender to Grace. Was it not grace itself that granted me this opportunity to heal more than just a broken leg?
Yoga invites us to see the challenges and the easy times the same way - As an opportunity to learn, to grow, and ultimately see the beauty in the play between the light times and the dark times. With the latest layer I was peeling back, I was MISSING THE BEAUTY.
One recognizes beauty when one feels love and grace. Love and Grace have the feel of magic and effortlessness. And what we are waking up to is that beauty - that magic and effortlessness - is everywhere even in the challenges. Something shifted in me drastically when I broke my leg. I know how to heal a leg but the journey it offered showed what needed to be done to heal my relationship to anger - it taught me to see the beauty.
The thing is we don’t just change, heal, forgive, detach, etc….. We can only create the right conditions so that they can happen. Creating those right conditions is the journey. Yoga, let alone life, has never been about the Goal. It is always about being present, alive, awake, in love with, and surrendering to each moment. The Journey is the goal. We always have the choice - either resist the challenge, i.e. be bummed that it happened, get angry, and regret it or see it immediately as another path to greater awareness and understanding.
I made the choice to return to Burning Man, back to unfamiliar surroundings, in conditions that invited me to sit with myself for hours on end and open up to the Grace of healing. I awoke to the understanding that if I am going to heal my leg, I must create the right conditions- I must be present, be soft, be in love and surrender - I must see the beauty in the journey. If I am going to harness my anger, I must create the right conditions - I must first honor it, accept it, love it, surrender to my humanity by being Present, Soft, and Loving with myself and trust that the journey is always beautiful.
Love and Light,
Brenna Geehan, 500-E-RYT, teaches weekly hatha flow classes in San Francisco at Yoga Tree Stanyan, Yoga Tree 6th Avenue and Yoga Tree Hayes. Brenna co-directs Sri Yoga™ Teacher Trainings and Retreats with Jean Mazzei and travels nationally offering Yoga seminars. To inquire about an upcoming retreat or training, or to schedule a private consultation with Brenna, contact her here. Learn more at www.BrennaGeehan.com