Nine years ago, I woke up at midnight in a hotel room gasping for air. Since that day, I have struggled to find relief from fear. Anxiety has controlled and consumed my life, pushing me towards precipices of danger and unhealthiness. I have struggled, persevered, and been on a constant journey towards inner peace. My successes have been fostered by a series of encounters with positive people and experiences, brought into my life through fate and chance.
Through time, and with this help, I have been in an increasingly calm and emotionally prosperous state. However, yesterday I experienced the worst anxiety attack I have had since my first. Fresh from a weekend in Virginia, a weekend spent happy, enjoying a blissful reunion with my brothers; I fell into a day-long comatose state of panic, fear, and overall pain.
I couldn’t identify the trigger. My mind raced, my arms and legs dripped sweat, and I feared that I could not be helped. I laid my body down on the hardwood of my living room, as R. rubbed my back and helped slow my breathing. I still couldn’t calm myself down, even after I played the piano for an hour, a usually soothing technique for me. I called my mom, mentors, friends, and still couldn’t feel right. It was in these moments of anguish, yesterday, that I realized my life has hit a breaking point.
My thoughts are controlling my life, and it’s time that I make them stop.
I have done a lot of self-discovery here in Louisville, focusing on the intersection of thoughts and feeling. With my therapist, we have identified that I am addicted to negative thinking. I don’t want to worry about death and flat tires and uncontrollable vomiting, but… I do. All of the time.
I constantly feel overwhelmed, helpless in my own understanding. Just trying to rid my mind of these negative thoughts has proved fruitless. I am content for a while, and then something innate or subconscious triggers me to delusions again. I need a lifestyle makeover. Thus begins my Yogic training.
Huh… what , G.? Yes, that’s right, I want to become a Yogi. No, I’m not renouncing any possessions (Let’s get real here, I have too many beautiful shoes) nor am I surviving on a diet of Locusts and dirt (is that even gluten-free?). I also don’t feel like this is a fickle, Real Housewives-style attempt at Yoga. There’s no “Let’s get sweet yoga pants and go to a Hatha class at the gym after Zumba” type yoga here.
As Barbara Stoler Miller writes in her translation of The Yoga Sutra Attributed to Patanjali, Yoga Discipline of Freedom, yoga “is the system that ‘yokes’ one’s consciousness to a spiritually liberating discipline” (ix). I feel like I am going to take this idea and run with it. For me this is a full-body, full-mind spiritual conversation that I need to have with myself.
Plus, what do I have to lose? Let’s meditate, share our stories, and be the better versions of ourselves that we want to be. Holler at your Yogi, it’s on.
***Please note that despite my Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies (at least I’m not a total idiot, right?), I don’t know everything about the path to enlightenment that I am embarking on. Please also note that no one does.
All I want is to have an open, honest conversation with those I love about my journey and my discoveries. This will never come through a religious rant, or ideas that are not debatable. Debate me; help me to understand what it is I am missing in this beautiful disaster we all call life.
Stoler Miller, Barbara. Yoga Discipline of Freedom. The Yoga Sutra Attributed to Patanjali. A Bantam Book/March 1998. ISBN o-553-37428-1.