Staying on the Mat

I have been working through the online course, The Wisdom of Story, by authors Glennon Doyle Melton and BrenĂ© Brown. I appreciate the deep inner work that is creating shifts within and opening up space around my heart. Tonight feels like the right time to share some of my thoughts. 

In my life, I have more easily dealt with physical pain rather than emotional pain. In order to avoid pain, and the eruption of emotions that might accompany it, I have spent much time and energy trying to control life. That is an exhausting way to live. And the ultimate result was that my emotions became so deeply buried and protected that even when I wanted to express sorrow or anger, I was unable to. 

Glennon writes “The healthiest of us are physical beings, emotional beings and spiritual beings.” 

I’ve embraced my physical self and nurtured my spiritual side. However, I voted the emotional part of me off the island long ago. I broke up with that perplexing self and I have refused to be reconciled. 

Until recently. 

I recognized ten years ago how important it is to accept and hold sacred my emotional being. But allowing myself to feel pain when it threatens to engulf me has been difficult. I know from experience that out of grief and pain strength and change are born. I know that. In the midst of crises though, I fall into the default behavior of avoidance, withdrawal and closing down. 

My desire to grow into my emotional self signaled the Divine that I was open and willing to learn. I was drawn first to The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, which helped me to understand what happens on an energetic level when I close my heart down in an attempt to protect myself from pain.

And recently I was led to Glennon and her books Carry On, Warrior and Love Warrior. With transparency and candor and raw emotions, Glennon shares her own journey through a time of upheaval and great pain. Something shifted in my heart and cracked open, as I read her words, revealing a place long protected and then ignored. 

The Wisdom of Story course is allowing me to explore this tender new space within that had long been barricaded. BrenĂ© shares in Lesson Three “When you deny your pain, it owns you. When you own your pain, it sets you free.”  I am done with denying pain or difficult situations. I am finished with being owned, and held captive by pain and my refusal to feel my emotions. 

Glennon tells the story of accidently attending a hot yoga class, while working through a difficult season in her life. She wanted to leave the class, which has the participants move through yoga poses in a very warm room. When the instructor asked Glennon what her intention was for the class, the sweaty frustrated Glennon answered that she just wanted to “stay on this mat and make it through whatever is about to happen without running out of here. ” For 90 minutes she simply sat still and let everything in her life that she had been running from appear in her mind. She stayed on the mat, and did not run, and she did not die. 

I want to stay on the mat. When faced with pain or hard things, I want to stay present, stay aware, and let what’s going to happen, happen. The word crises comes from the Greek krinein, which means “decide”. Pain forces a decision. Will I close down and try not to feel? And in protecting myself actually lose a part of who I am? Or will I stay on the mat, and feel…feel the pain, feel loneliness, feel grief? Can I choose to be still and feel and let the pain pass through? 

I can. I can stay on the mat. I will stay on the mat. I am staying on the mat. 

I am willing to embrace my emotional self, and welcome her back after her long exile, and at last see what she has to teach me. I am ready to be set free. 

Check out The Wisdom of Story HERE