I’ve been holding my arms stretched out in front of me at a 60-degree angle for 25 minutes now. They’re beginning to shake. My shoulders hurt. My neck is tensing up. I am furious. Our teacher for the rest of the yoga workshop is up onstage. She looks elated.
“Keep going. Keep up and you’ll be kept up. Don’t give up.” I love her, but ... I hate her. My lower back is starting to ache, my hips went numb 10 minutes ago, and my ankles feel bruised. I’m thinking of giving up. I’m thinking about what it would feel like to lower my arms, lie down on my back, and close my eyes. I’m picturing the sweet relief of doing nothing.
“Keep going,” she chants. “Keep up and you’ll be kept up.”
Dammit. I’ve paid for this experience. Not only this one but three hours of experiences just like it. I’m starting to think about what else I could be doing today. Namely, nothing. Oh, sweet relief.
And then, there is nothing.
Rather, suddenly I’m gone. It’s as though I’ve left my body. I just don’t feel it anymore. No pain. No discomfort. No aches. I check to see if I laid down without noticing it. Nope. Same position. I check to see if I lowered my arms without noticing it. Nope. Same position. What’s happened to what I was feeling? What’s happened to, well, everything?
Because nothing feels the same anymore. Nothing.
I’m still in the same position, still in the room, still at this workshop, and yet—I’m not. I’m immersed in something wondrous. I’m being held by an incredible force. I’m being loved more deeply and more intensely than I ever have been before. There’s joy. There’s delight.
And something else. It’s like the force that is loving me is also kind of laughing at me, kind of saying, “Oh, you lovely, funny, bumbling you.”
I’m looking behind me to see if someone has come up and started hugging me. No one’s there. But I’m being held. I’m being cradled. Every cell in my body is immersed in this love-bath that silently, steadily, and firmly communicates: I love you for all that you are, every single bit of you.
I love you for who you’ve been, what you’ve done, and where you’ve been. I love you for the moments you made your biggest mistakes, the times you were selfish and mean. I love you for the jealousy and the insecurities. I love all of you. I love you for all that you are.
There are tears streaming down my cheeks. I can’t stop them.
And then I begin to apologize. I’m praying out “I’m sorrys”—not for what I’ve done but for what I will do. I conjure up every person in my life who I think will be disappointed by what will happen next, who might be afraid of how my future will turn out. I see my dear, responsible dad in all his fear and worry, and I say, “Dad, I’m sorry. I just can’t do this anymore.”
I see my patient, loving mom in all her hope and concern, and I say, “Mom, I’m sorry. I just can’t do this anymore.” I see a crowd of people getting larger by the minute: elementary school teachers, high school teachers, neighbors, and friends’ parents. Everyone who ever told me, “This is what I see in you. And this is what I think you can be.” And I say, “I’m sorry.”
Because I’m letting it go. I’m letting go of the person I thought I should be. The person they thought I should be. I have no idea—no idea!—who I will become or how I will get there. I just know a part of me feels absolutely still. Absolutely calm. And absolutely certain.
That part of me feels no anxiety. That part of me is in absolute peace. And I think God just told her that’s the way it can always be. That’s the way it’s meant to be.
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