Many people ask me, “what led you to yoga?”. My initial falling in love with yoga was in Savasana. It was the act of allowing myself to be in a space to focus on my breath and embrace the entirety of my being on earth in that specific place in time. What do you mean I can create a peaceful and safe space within myself to calm my anxiety and the chaotic unknown traffic of thoughts and feelings? Yes, there is!
Throughout my life I’ve suffered from severe anxiety and inability to identify and validate emotions and process emotionally related thoughts. Up until earlier this year, once my brain identified vulnerability, pain or rejection, my brain sent a signal to the rest of my body to shut down. While this defense mechanism was my brain’s logical way of handling fear, vulnerability, avoiding pain or uncomfortable situations it has brought many challenges in my relationship with myself and consequently with other people.
My brain learned to suppress fear of pain and rejection as a defense mechanism. This shutting down, not only mentally but emotionally and spiritually has been one of the biggest personal challenges I was desperate to overcome. This mechanism took me to a mental space where I had no idea what I was doing, or what the purpose for me to be there was, but offered the safety that I was seeking in the meantime. This space felt as if I was in this cold and dark waiting room with my eyes shut, waiting for the emotions to pass or the situation to vanish. These situations turned into panic attacks and inability to control my breath, my thoughts or my shaking body. This was an unconscious way to not deal with the problem and avoid the inner conversation about where my emotions, thoughts and beliefs were coming from. It was my brains automated “band aid” solution to avoiding pain or whatever emotion I was taught was not in the “happy” or “pleasant” bucket. This safe space turned into a very scary experience. This system has had serious repercussions, to the point that I had to acknowledge it was no longer serving me. I could go as far as saying that I became a prisoner of my defense mechanism.
It was during my yoga practice, specifically the Savasana asana, that I was able to visit my safe waiting room, but this time in a different light. I chose to be in that waiting room under my own terms. I was not running away from an emotion or a thought. I was now curious about it and where it was coming from. This waiting room did not feel so cold and dark any more. I was actually curious to begin exploring this space and its systems. I was only able to achieve this experience because of the presence in my practice, the intent in every asana, the cultivation of the movement with the breath and the relationship with my thoughts and my body.
These past couple of years I have been working on finding who my authentic self is and the gift (or gifts) I have to offer. Just like my yoga practice, I have come to enjoy my emotional practice. I have been able to identify my emotions, most of the times connect these with my thoughts or the reasoning behind the emotion and truly respect them. Understand that my thoughts and emotions are held in my space but they don’t belong to me. These are honored guests in my body and I must learn to identify them, treat them with respect and let them go with grace. This has required a lot of self study, undivided attention, discipline and compassion but I am so in love with this practice that I am invested in the process.
This emotional journey has evolved with the devotion to my yoga practice which has been filled with enlightenment. I have found that sharing this experience might be helpful for other people too.
Paola Martin del Campo