Holy Cow – Yoga really works… Well, for me it does 🙂 I had a wild week last week. I ended up at the same fork in the road I was at on July 10th, 1998. It’s a meaningful enough fork that I remember the exact date of the first time I was there.
On July 10th, 1998 I was in Toronto scheduled to have laser eye surgery. I was getting both eyes done, and honestly, on the inside I was freaking out.
I had a lot of anxiety, fear and overwhelm around the surgery, and I was limited in my stress management strategies. My main coping strategies in 1998 included smoking, alcohol, eating junk food (I was particularly fond of Diet Coke at the time), working out at the gym, sleeping, and pretending I didn’t have any stress.
Part way through the pre-operative testing I had a three and a half minute grand mal seizure… My nervous system was shot.
Needless to say, I did not get the corrective eye surgery, and my entire life changed as a result of that three and one half minutes. I proceeded to get sicker and sicker, until one fateful day I was sick enough and desperate enough to try yoga. Whoa.
Last week I was at the Focus Eye Centre getting tested to see if I am eligible for corrective eye surgery – 16 years later. During the testing, they did the exact same test that catalyzed my first seizure all those years ago… and not only did I not have a seizure, but I was approved for the surgery!
What’s different between now and then? If I’m honest – just about everything. Over the years I’ve been in cycle after cycle of self-inquiry.
The biggest practical difference is my new and improved toolbox of coping strategies for stress, which I am able to use in each moment that is challenging, anxiety provoking, or overwhelming.
- I’ve developed an awareness of my internal state, and so I can identify how I feel
- I learned how to work with my breath – I can use my breath to calm myself, or to produce more energy
- I learned about how asana isn’t just about poses you do on your mat, but how you hold yourself and the thoughts/feelings/emotions that get evoked in each of the poses
- I’ve developed a meditation practice, which has helped me to be with sensations, emotions and thoughts that are uncomfortable in a non-reactive way
- I have wonderful daily self-care practices that help to keep my body-mind balanced, strong, grounded, and nourished
- I’m working to practice kindness, honesty, and gratitude towards myself – I’m not perfect and I know it!
As I sat in the chair last week while the doctor poked my eye with doo-hickey I was aware of the intense stress I was feeling and I was making sure that I was breathing slowly and deliberately. After the test was done I had this epiphany – a news flash went through my mind
“OMGoodness – YOGA REALLY WORKS!!!”
Every minute, hour and day that I have dedicated to my practice provided an amazing foundation for me to take a different fork in the road. Every minute, hour and day dedicated to the practice was well worth it. I have no idea when your moment will come (or if it already has), and yet I suspect that one day all the time, energy and effort that you put into your practice will culminate into something memorable. Cheers to you and your practice!
Om Shantih & Prema (universal peace & love),
Mona L. Warner, ERYT500 & CYA-E-RYT500