Friday, February 25, 2011
Opening My Heart
I've been doing yoga for over ten years now. At times I've been able to really focus on it and practice 4-5 times a week. Other times, it's been more of a relaxing, calming exercise I do once a week. When I was pregnant with Miles I was very committed to my yoga practice. It made me feel strong yet flexible, focused yet relaxed. I was practicing 4-5 times a week up until two weeks before I gave birth....mostly in a regular class, not the pregnancy class. I did go to that one every now and then when it was too hot and I just needed to breathe.
There is a very strong community at my yoga studio and Zach and I became part of that community with Miles in my belly. Every Friday there was druming and singing at the end of class. We even attended a two hour drum circle one evening as part of a Yogathon. Being there with all these wonderful people who look at life and spirituality in a similar way as I do, made me feel more connected with myself and the baby inside of me. My last day of class before I gave birth, there was an impromptu singing session for Miles. Several beautiful women sang to him and blessed him with their love. I felt very nurtured and loved and positive. When Miles was born and I told my City Yoga community that Miles had Down syndrome, I am sure that they were devastated for me, but what they showed me was love, kindness, support and acceptance.
Yoga to me, is a way of life. A way of checking in with myself and balancing my emotional and physical body. All of the lessons that I've learned on my mat are transferable to my life in general. So why have I had such a hard time going back to yoga this year and a half since Miles was born? Why has it been so difficult for me to show up ad be open to myself?
Sure, the obvious reason is Time. Which is a huge culprit. I often can't find the time to go to yoga, what with Miles' therapy schedule and my auditions and work, it's difficult to follow a routine. But more than that, it's my own fear of what's inside of me. Sometimes it's too painful, sometimes it's just plain sad, but really it's everything. As much as I love and adore and admire my son, I am still dealing with the fact that he has Down syndrome and how that will affect me for the rest of my life. The. Rest. Of. My. Life. And in yoga, on my mat, by myself, it is hard to hide from my true feelings. But oh I am good at it. I am savvy at hiding and showing what's really going on inside. Even my husband, who I think knows me better than I know myself, is often fooled by me. I should win an Academy Award!
Today, I made it to class and I couldn't hide. I tried, but I couldn't hide. Maybe I didn't really want to hide. Who knows, the point is we were working on "heart openers". Right there--- Boom! I am toast. I love heart openers. And it's beautiful to be so open, but it makes me very vulnerable and there's nowhere to hide when you're offering your heart up to the world. Then the teacher was talking about self-love. So much of opening our hearts is opening up to ourselves, our love and devotion to ourselves. We even meditated on the things we love about ourselves! So here I am, trying to hate on myself, because that's been my M.O. lately, and be depressed, because I've been feeling aimless and unhappy and here she is telling me to dig into that. To dig past that and find me and my love for me and why I love me. Jeez!! Forget about it! The tears started flowing as all the love I have for myself, but which I've been hiding, came pouring out of me...to me. It's amazing when you feel sadness and joy at the same time. It's enlightening. I felt it when Miles was born. And I felt it today on my yoga mat.
Traci, the wonderful drummer and singer who along with our teacher Rebecca, used to lead the chanting on Fridays at the end of class when I was pregnant, happened to be back today. For the first time in who knows how long. I had no idea she was there, I'd been so focused on battling my demons during the class that I hadn't even seen her. But there she was with all her beautiful energy ready to play for us and lead us in this mantra about self love. Om Namah Shivaya.
Was it all a coincidence? I don't think so. I was in the right place at the right time today. I have been in a funk, a deep annoying funk that comes and goes and that no matter what I do, I can't seem to shake. And today in class, all this wonderful energies collided to speak to me to open up to myself. And in opening up to myself and accepting myself a little bit more, I am also able to accept my reality a little bit better.
I thought about Miles and what an amazing baby he is all on his own, but I do think that I had something to do with that while he was in the womb. All that love, joy and nurture that I felt while pregnant, he felt. All the singing, dancing, drumming that I did during my pregnancy, all of it is part of who I am and it's a part of who he is. It's no surprise that Miles loves music and that he's not just into the drums, but the guitar and the piano. It's in his soul. Yoga? It's also a huge part of who he is. It's what he does in Physical Therapy. Literally-- he does yoga.
One of the misconceptions I had about people with Down syndrome was that they were nothing like their parents. I thought that they were more like each other than like us. But as I continue to learn on this journey, Miles is more like us that I ever thought he would be. He is his own person, that's for sure, but he came from us and has us in him. And that makes me smile, which is a nice feeling for me since I've been feeling so sad. Been faking it on the outside, but struggling with it on the inside. And today, I was able to let my guard down long enough to remember that I do love myself. I love myself for so many reasons that I can't even list them here! I love myself even though I am messed up inside. I know I still have a lot of work to do and I know I'm gonna try to hide from my feelings most of the time, but that's just part of the process. Today was a breakthrough. It gave me some hope. And a little hope can go a long way!