Staying on the Mat

I have been working through the online course, The Wisdom of Story, by authors Glennon Doyle Melton and Brené 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. Brené 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 

The Wisdom of Story

Earlier this month, I signed up for a four part series of lessons. The Wisdom of Story is the fine result of the collaborative efforts of authors Glennon Doyle Melton and Brené Brown. These two soulful and authentic women have shared from their hearts and lives on topics such as addiction, shame, loss, joy, love and the importance of being fully who we are, via their books and blogs. 

I recently “met” Glennon through a post on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook page. I read both of her books, Carry on Warrior and her recent release, Love Warrior. (Read my review of Love Warrior HERE). I was so moved, so unsettled, so ready to own my story and give it voice after reading Glennon’s memoirs. And into the midst of my longing for something more, came this class. Oh, the marvelous Divine timing of the events that have led me here. 

Tonight I had the opportunity to begin the course with Lesson One. Using a series of videos to present the lesson and the exercises, Glennon and Brené share candidly from their own lives. Life has been “brutiful” (beautiful + brutal) for both of these courageous women. Life is brutiful for each of us, if we are honest, a mix of beautiful moments that take our breaths away, and brutal moments that knock the breath from us, leaving us gasping in pain. 

To grow, to own my story, I must accept both in my life. 

Because this is a paid course, I will not be sharing about the lessons in detail. Here is a link to the CourageWorks website where info about the course is presented. The lessons can be started at any time and completed online, taking as much time as needed. There is an e-workbook included, that can also be printed out, to record answers to questions and exercises. 

The course is very well done. I wouldn’t expect anything else from these encouraging women. Brené and Glennon suggest reading Love Warrior in conjunction with completing The Wisdom of Story. 

I am excited about working through these lessons, slowly and thoughtfully. After reading Glennon’s books I desired to be more aware of my own story and desired as well to be able to tell the story inside of me with my voice. That desire went out. And this course appeared almost immediately, for me an answer to a need I had only just become aware of. 

I love how things work out.