Healing: Made Possible By...

I've been doing a lot of pondering around the subject of healing over the last few months. In the beginning, things were scribbled all over my journal pages, like: helpful rehab tips, ingredients I need to add to my smoothies, motivational quotes, modifications for yoga poses, how many times a week I should go to the sauna, reminders to give my scar some love, and the things I want to know about the person who used to take care of my new ligament.  Basically I was in "don't worry, I've freaking got this covered, stay strong" mode.

Fast forward a month or so, and my scribbles started to change... there were just endless questions, like: What does healing really mean? How does it transpire? Where does it truly take place inside of us? Does physical healing run parallel or adjacent to emotional/mental healing? Can you really have one without the other? How do we uncover the places inside us that need healing? My started to shift to "am I going about this all wrong?, uncertainty, learning new things is freaking scary" mode.

Let me tell you, one of these modes tends to sit a lot better with the general public. Can you guess which one that is? When someone knows you've had surgery, and they ask how things are going, and you tell them "shit hurts, and it's scary," they start to get squeamish. They do their best of course, but the conversation usually comes to an end quickly. After some testing out of different ways to answer people, and sometimes trying to make them squeamish on purpose (if you are one of the people that saw me on a day I was choosing to be brutally honest, I apologize if I made you want to runaway, but thank you for being my ginnea pig!), I came to find that people really dig on the whole self-empowerment stuff. "I'm kicking this rehab thing's butt!" gets way more follow up banter from folks.

After my week of experimental responding with family/friends and strangers alike, it really started to bring up my biggest healing question so far:

Who is going to hold space for me while I go through this healing process? 

Which brings me to my point of this collection of thoughts. Healing is made possible by connection. We are hardwired social beings; we have an innate drive toward companionship. I read somewhere that willingness to empathize with each other's emotions is what relieves our burdens. In other words, heals. In my experience it actually is a bit deeper than that... Healing occurs in emphatic moments, yes. However its not just because someone is empathizing with you; it is when you allow yourself to be seen, choose to put yourself out there in raw form, and you get that reflected back to you in the eyes of another. That is connection that heals. 

Fun Fact: happiness research shows that the connection with close friends is the single most determinant of peace of mind. 

So, if you are hardwired for companionship and you know how good real connection feels, how is that you get stuck in a pattern of suffering? Any painful experiences, in all sizes, shapes, and forms, of abuse, rejection, abandonment, and/or shaming leaves wounds that can last. These things create an understandable notion that it would be better to numb your emotional pain rather than risk making new connections. If you take an honest look at yourself, does this relate to you? If it does, my next question is this... How's that working out for you?  
Brene Brown said, "when you numb your pain, you also numb your joy."  That, my dear, is a cost that is too high to pay. You are worthy of connection and support. You are worthy and capable of deep healing. Step out from behind the walls you've built and show yourself to your loved ones; from there the world awaits.

I see you.

ps - In case you were curious, I did find my people. The ones that held, and continue to hold, space for my healing process. They provide me a loving space for me to dig, mend, and learn. The days when "shit hurts and it's scary" are fleeting.
Also, I can't begin to share my overwhelming gratitude for you. All of you, for your kind emails, cheering me on in social media with hearts and likes of support, and your sassy neediness to get me back to teaching. I cherish each of you that has crossed my path over the last two years of my teaching journey. Thank you.  

The Illusion of Control

"we have to face the pain we have been running from. in fact, we need to learn to rest in it and let its searing power transform us."

-charlotte joko beck

You know that saying/idea that circumstances or events will keep presenting themselves to you until you have learned the lesson that is meant for you? Well, I can now say with certainty that I fully believe this concept to be true.

For me, right now, that lesson is surrender and trust. Trust that my world will not collapse around me if I am not in control. That any control I perceive to have outside of myself is an illusion; an illusion that I use to try to protect myself and my loved ones. In trying to create a shield, I enviably build walls. When those walls get high enough, divine will usually steps in and sets them on fire.

Wouldn't you know, I even usually try to control the fires. I often rush to put the fires out so fast, that I don't even give them time to show me their full potential. The fire that builds from pain, suffering, and/or sorrow is transformational. It has the capability of destruction, but with the promise of germinating new life. The need to control what feelings I feel, and when, how vulnerable I allow myself to be, how my life is organized, the timing of it all... it stifles the flames.

Surrendering to the fire, welcoming it in -- its freaking scary. It's challenging in so many ways. However, when you take the drama out, the story created in your head, and just sit in the fire, you come to realize that it's not there to burn you at all. Your experiences transform you, shape you. If you put the fires out too quickly, you may miss out on some experiences, some lessons. Because ultimately you get to decide what lessons you learn.... just some food for thought. 

I would like to just say thank you to everyone who reached out to me over the past several weeks. A quick update on my injury - I ended up doing quite the number on my knees. I tore 3 ligaments in my left knee, and 1 in my right. I had surgery at the beginning of May; it went well as far as we can tell. I am currently doing physical therapy and on the mend! (happy dance) It took me a couple of weeks of denial before I accepted that I wouldn't be back to teaching within a few short weeks after surgery (ahem, control), but I do have that in my sights once again! I sure hope to see you all on the mat sooner than later. 

Much love,

Nicole

When Life Hands You Lemons... Find Gradtitude

You know how sometimes you can take certain things for granted? You know, like being able to walk, for example. You just expect certain things to always be there, and to be functioning the same as it always has... it's an easy thing to slip into.

Then you partake in one of your adrenaline junkie extracurricular activities, and you are just having the time of your life! Right?

Until your sled decides it's hungry; and tries to eat your legs for dinner; and your friends have to carry you down the mountain...

What? That's never happened to you? Well, I'm glad to hear it; and not to worry, you don't have to burn to learn on this one, because I took one for the team (you're welcome) and I'm about to share with you the lessons I've learned thus far!  

Before I get to the good stuff, let me just say that I am okay. Honest. But for those wondering why all of our classes on the island are suddenly canceled, it's because your yoga teacher has an adventurist spirit and a slight addiction to speed. (MPH, not the drug or the movie)  I am flying to Anchorage this weekend to get a better picture about what's happening, and I hope to be back to teaching in just a few short weeks. So don't go too far in my absence. :) 

Okay, good stuff --
I have never in my life been so completely grateful for my yoga practice. 

This is what I've been training for. "Training" if that's what you want to call it. Now more than ever I am reaping the benefits of my yoga practice. While I have always had an understanding that this practice prepares you for life, this really puts that idea in your face. The 8 limbs of yoga combine to really help build the kind of resiliency for anything life throws at you. I am incredibly grateful for my asana practice (the physical postures we do in class) because it has made me strong. It has taught me how to isolate movement. It has taught me that my brain will give up a hundred times before my body will quit on me. It has taught me how to embody and embrace my body, and the difference between intense sensations and pain. It taught me that sometimes I need a block, or people, for support, and that is okay. I am grateful for the knowledge my body holds, and that I can trust it. 

However, so much more than that I am grateful for the other limbs of yoga; I am grateful for the breathing, the self care, the silence. For learning how to lean into challenges, and how to hold myself in that space. I am grateful for the resilience that has been woven into my tissues and my spirit through this practice. 

There are two words that keep coming into my thoughts this week… resilient and resourceful. I find that resilience is the virtue that enables you to move through hardship and become better. The other day, I was flipping through one of my many notebooks and found this scribbled on the bottom of a page; I'm not sure where I originally read it or who said it.

From pain can come wisdom.
From fear can come courage.
From suffering can come strength.

I find these words to be absolutely true and possible with the developed virtue of resilience; because my yoga practice has taught me these things. Its taught me how leverage experiences and find new perspectives. It’s sparked creativity and healing. It’s provided space for me to accept and respond to life, from a place of love inside of me. 

There are so many tools that this practice offers that aren’t always realized right away. It’s a slow and steady progress coming into yourself. Living from that place sets you up to take on all of life’s happenings. This practice is not just about becoming enlightened and detaching so that you are free from life; it is about becoming aware of life and responding in a way that you can feel free as you live and experience your life.

So you get some homework this month… What tools are you gathering from your practice? What tools do you want to gather? Can you give yourself permission to go inside a little deeper? Can you stay in that space a little longer? Feel what is there in your body. Choose your thoughts wisely. Listen to your heart and your spirit. Learn how to hold yourself in life’s happenings, and when to ask for support. Get curious off of the mat, too. What is happening in your life that you could breathe more space into? Or relax your neck and jaw as you deal with whatever it is. That’s a lot of questions… you can just pick one or two. ;)  

Use your practice! Gather your tools. You will reap the benefits.

You are so loved. You are so supported.

Make Love of Yourself Perfect

"like a caring mother holding and guarding the life of her only child, so with a boundless heart hold yourself and all beings."

-buddha

I'm currently reading a book titled Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. Don't worry, I'm not going to tell you to rush over to amazon and buy this book right now because it is completely life changing! After all, I'm only on chapter 2... ;)

However, it has already got me thinking a lot about how I treat myself. Not just now, but over the course of my life. Of course, I have thought about this a hundred times before now; I am a huge advocate and promoter of self love. But it's invited me to dig into the subject a bit more again.

How well do I love myself each day? On the days that I'm not superwoman, how often do I cut myself some slack? How often do I stretch myself too thin for the sake of someone else? Do I allow myself to be open enough to feel comfortable to just be me? Do I put myself in situations where I feel safe, with people that really see me? Do I truly know that I am enough, or is it just an affirmation I keep telling myself in hopes that I will one day believe it? These are some things I've been exploring in my life. Great, why am I telling you this?

Two reasons...

One. I want you to start exploring these things in your life. Even if you think you love yourself to the moon and back. Break it down. Ask yourself some simple, straightforward questions and be clear about your answers. Do it. You may surprise yourself. I mean, I thought that I loved myself to the moon and back, and unfortunately not all of my actions were reflecting that back to me. Now I get to choose to change that.

Two. Yoga. Particularly in my classroom, but I can only hope this would stand for any yoga class you choose to attend. There are a few things I want you know, and carry with you as you practice with or without me.

-You are welcome in my class; seriously, I couldn't be more pleased that you are here. it doesn't matter if you've never practiced yoga, or you're on class number 8,362! If you are injured or as strong as you've ever been. If you are heart broken, or angry, or just had the best damn day of your whole life! You are welcome in my class.

-You can be yourself. There's no societal norms or prerequisites you need to meet in order to do yoga, or be a yogi; you can just be you.

-You are worthy. You are worth the extra two breathes that the class held a pose so that I could finish your adjustment. You are worthy of your deepest desires. You are worthy even if the only thing you did today was get out of bed for yoga class. Hell, you are worthy if you didn't go to yoga class, or get out of bed! You are worthy and okay just as you are.

This is a safe space to explore the depths of your practice. to really feel it. to explore yourself, and your spirit. explore your patterns. your emotions and express the things you are finding there. You can cry if you want. You can fall over. You can get back up. This is a safe space.
You are enough. This practice is not about becoming more than you are, it's about embodying who already are! Don't forget that.

I am honored to share my practice with you. I don't take it lightly that you allow me to hold space for you during that hour or so that I'm in front of you. Thank you for being part of my journey, and allowing me to be apart of yours. 

You are supported. You are loved. I see you.

with so much love,
Nicole