How A Student's Breakdown Helped Me Remember My Joy
“Well, you just really got to me that day,” she said. Let’s call her April.
“I remember,” I replied. I did. It was October. I was in the middle of an eight-week challenge I'd created for our studio, which was called the Chakra Immersion. This was a journey through the chakras, based primarily on the teachings of Caroline Myss. One week was dedicated to each of the main seven chakras, with the eighth week reserved to tie them together and show how they work in tandem. April hadn’t attended my class in a while, so I was happily surprised to see her.
It was the middle of week four, heart chakra week. I was driving the message home pretty hard — the message of Love as Divine Power and the need to stay open in your heart even if you’ve been betrayed or endured loss, so that you can process love energy with integrity and grace, even if it means remaining open to pain and sorrow. It was something I needed to hear, too (the words I speak almost always are). At the time, I was tempted to shut down in my heart so as not to feel the devastation of losing my mom earlier in the year.
I didn’t know of April’s recent journey or her turmoil. I didn’t realize how much I was triggering her. When class was over and everyone was getting up to leave, she was writhing around on her mat in tears and agony — she was melting. She was in what I know as breakdown mode. I scooped her up in my arms and just held her.
“He’s leaving me, Rebecca” she whispered through tears. My heart sank. They were one of those perfect couples — a Ken-and-Barbie-like match, only she was Albanian and he was Jewish. They were beautiful, shining, young and full of fresh hope and endless potential. “He’s cheating on me, he’s doing drugs and he stole all of our money,” she continued, poison spewing from her pores, her words heavy and sharp.
I held her and whispered condolences and reassurances that everything was going to be ok. I let her sob. After a while, she began to calm down. I had a private to teach, so I couldn’t stay with her long. “Let’s chat later,” I said. I gave her my contact details.
Later, via email, this is what I told her:
Listen to me: Run, don’t walk, to your computer and download an audio lecture by Caroline Myss titled Energy Anatomy. It will help make sense of all of this. Whatever you do, do not, I repeat do not bury this and pretend like it doesn’t exist. And do not forget: You are loved and worthy of love and belonging. He is lost and humiliated and he is likely sick with addiction as well. Try to stay compassionate toward him. I know you won’t believe me when I say this, and I am not trying to belittle your anguish, but it’s going to be ok, really, it is. It’s all going to be ok in the end.
And now, here we were, seven months later, having coffee. She’s all put together again and sitting across from me — beautiful, stunning in her exotic way. She’s still very young but seems wiser now, less innocent. She's telling me the story in vivid detail. It’s hideous and packed with treachery and betrayal so disgusting that it's indeed stranger than fiction.
“I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t come to your class that day,” she’s concluding. “You spoke directly to me. It was like somehow you knew what was going on and you knew what I needed to hear to survive — not just survive to thrive.” She's staring at me with wide eyes. I smile and let her words engulf me like a hug.
What she didn’t know was how much I needed to hear her words. Maybe I helped her endure the demise of an unhealthy relationship, but she was helping me remember my joy.
I’d slipped recently. I’d allowed myself to be swallowed up in doubt and fear and insecurity. I’d started attaching my self-worth to various external factors that were beyond my control. This dear student’s testament of love could not have come at a more opportune time. She was reminding me that I make a difference with my endeavors, that my earnest hard work does have an impact, that doing what I love is so rewarding as all I really want to do is help others as well as myself. I had definitely, unequivocally improved her situation. She was even quoting Caroline Myss and making astute observations about how she had landed in her situation in the first place. It was clear that she would continue her work on self and continue to evolve with awareness and integrity.
In his book, The Power of Intention, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer says that every single person comes into your life in exactly the right way at exactly the right time. This was certainly the case for me with April at this moment. I needed to hear her story and be reminded of my joy. Seven months prior, she needed to hear what I was saying about the heart chakra and the incredible teachings of Caroline Myss.
I suspect this is the case with each and every one of us — all the time, every day. Are you able to see the wisdom those around you hold in their actions and their words? Are you able to allow yourself to look and really listen so as to glean all of the potential brilliance of each moment, rather than go on autopilot or bury yourself in your phone? I offer you this practice humbly. Check it out. See what you uncover. You might just be surprised...
To learn more about yoga, check out The Complete Guide To Yoga With Tara Stiles.
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