Dear Living Room Yogis,
Welcome to my 2021 end of the year letter! 2021 has taught me that:
- Healed people heal people. And the opposite is also true: wounded people wound people. We experienced a false accusation that has been devastating for us on many levels. Navigating this has been very challenging with emotions running the gamut. It has driven me to seek understanding of how trauma affects our perception and memories and how this may have played a part in this person’s actions. It has also strengthened my resolve to help people heal so others do not go through what we have experienced. Barry is moving forward by furthering his education in herb science to help clients become more empowered in taking care of their health and is pondering putting together trainings to create more healer in the world. We are healing….
- “Everything that is happening is what is supposed to be happening. We know this because it is happening’ – Eckhart Tolle.” This has been a guiding principle for me for many years. On my best days, I find comfort and faith in it, and I am working to have more of those days! Whatever shifts are ahead, this will be my mantra as I navigate the transitions.
- All the things you fear can happen and you can still be ok. This year we experienced quite a few profound stressors, the cherry on top being Barry testing positive for COVID on Christmas. Despite experiencing intense feelings of anxiety at times, we are still here, experiencing laughter and joy and living our lives.
- What you resist persists. Anxiety, while it can feel unbearably painful, does not kill you. However, what you do to avoid feeling anxiety – excessive drinking, eating, taking drugs, TV watching, internet surfing – can either kill you or at least greatly decrease your quality of life. What’s worse, the anxiety is still there after it’s all said and done. Better to change your brain! Sights, sounds, or smells reminiscent of a past trauma can trigger the amygdala in the brain to cause you to fight, flee, or freeze. Yoga and meditation practiced over time help you stay present feel the feels. When nothing catastrophic happens, the brain changes to be less reactive and you feel less anxious. Hello freedom! This year has made me especially grateful for yoga. (Working with a qualified psychotherapist specializing in exposure therapy may also be warranted in cases of intense trauma.)
- “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another [William James].” Catastrophizing thoughts can scare the amygdala into producing anxiety. Some of my catastrophizing thoughts to Barry getting COVID were: Will he get worse? Will he go into respiratory distress? Will he have to be hospitalized? Will he die? Thanks to yoga practice, I did not have to stay stuck there. Through the development of witness consciousness – the awareness that I am not my thoughts – . one is able to “see” one’s thoughts more clearly, develop more positive, productive thoughts, and to think those thoughts. THIS is power, my friends.
- All things work toward the good. If the pandemic had not occurred, I would not have stopped my crazy work schedule and taken inventory of my own quality of life. We would not have completed our garage to apartment conversion which is providing a source of income and pleasure for us. I probably would not have decided to quit working Saturdays and give myself a real weekend to restore, relax, and create. I am confident that no matter what unfolds next, we will eventually be able to find the treasure in it. What good have you found in the challenges of this year?
- “Acknowledging the good you already have in your life is the foundation of all abundance” – Eckhart Tolle. Gratitude can help you overcome melancholy, disappointment, a bad mood. It can help you say no to your addiction. It can turn your life around in an instant. Today I am grateful for Barry’s energy and health returning, my own health, the love of friends and family, our little refuge here on 11th Avenue. What about you?
- While religion and politics divide, kindness and presence unite. I have taken a step back this year from sharing too openly about my views. I have come to believe that one can know too much about the political views and religious beliefs of neighbors and acquaintances and not everything needs to be shared. I have also come to understand that people are not easily swayed from their own viewpoint and trying can be an exercise in futility. What I have not taken a step back from is kindness and presence, which never fail and build bridges that connect us.
And on that note, into 2022 we go….