"What is your substance, whereof are you made"


I'm generally quite good at writing about my thoughts and feeling, but actually talking about them: not so much! It's not something I'm proud of, at all, and it's something that I'm dealing with, right now. If I get angry, I don't explode, I implode. Quietly. I will completely shut down for days and withdraw into my own anger, taking shit out on myself, whatever it is. It's extremely lonely, very intense and completely wrong. I used to shut down for weeks, so believe it or not, a couple of days in my own personal hell is actually progress.

I think some of it has to do with our culture here in Norway, as we are a rather introverted and independent bunch of people in general - but a lot of it is definitely because I've always been told that I'm "too sensitive". "Too this" and "too that". Always in a bad way. So as a child, I quickly discovered that shutting up and shutting down was the only way I could deal with my emotions and I never really learned the "appropriate" way to react or talk about anything. Even at 30 years old, I still don't know shit. How to react, what to say, how to say things or even just show that I care. How much anger is too much anger? Or sadness, or joy? Is a full blown expression of joy a burst of laughter or a burst of tears? Both? Am I just completely crazy?

My reactions, or sometimes lack thereof, has been a big source of frustration for me and everyone in my life. I myself often feel like I'm too invested in people and things, but they can't tell, because I'm incapable of showing it. Other times, I feel like I'm not showing my affection enough, and I will over compensate in a hundred different ways, completely draining myself in the process. I can't seem to find a balance. It's like someone gave me the wrong tools to do a very simple job, and now I'm forced to use this cheap ass plastic fork to fry my eggs. It's a mess.

A little blue flower growing silently in a ditch can bring me immense joy, but a conversation with a loved one can give me debilitating anxiety. This confuses me, because intellectually I know that these are both very good things. Not the anxiety part, the flower and conversation part. Talking to the people you love will bring you closer to the poeple you love, so me being unable to open my mouth and actually voice my opinion or share my emotions is an incredible challenging thing to deal with. It's like someone has forcefully driven an ax half way through my throat, and the words that are suppose to be formed with the air from my lungs are just slamming against the metal stuck in my trachea. It leaves me mouthing my words and choking on untold feelings. It's sort of like emotional mute-ism. It's not that I can't be happy or sad, I really can be all of the emotions times a hundred, it's just that when I desperately need to be able to talk about my feelings, I physically feel like I can't.

Why is this? Is it a weird defense mechanism? Is it "simply" because I was mocked growing up for being "emotional", and therefore I think emotions are bad? Because I know they are not, I do, on an intellectual level, at least. How do I change this? How do I rewire my brain? How do I unlearn? What am I so scared of? Is it some kind of abandonment issue? Do I think people will leave if they know my thoughts and feelings? Will they not accept me for me? Is this all because of fear? Is that it?

Having yoga in my life truly is helping me figure things out, and I'm generally feeling more balanced than ever - but this past week I've just completely collapsed into my darkest emotions. I fell face down into a deep hole, and it felt like I was drowning in a pool of tears and snot. The sorrow felt so endless, so deep, so complete. And all I did was cry and sleep. In silence. I couldn't even do my regular yoga practice.

A combination of stress, illness, arguments and traveling brought me to the hole this time, but I'm climbing back up now. I'm trying to be better, to understand my triggers and learn from it. I guess this is what yogis refer to as Svadhyaya, which is a Sanskrit term literally meaning "to study one's self". And I really am, studying my self. My ego, my thought patterns, my actions. Trying to figure things out. It's rather painful at times, and very draining. The ego does not like me digging into it, so this whole process of getting to know myself on an almost cellular level is hard work. But, I don't want to be a crazy hermit-thinker living inside my own head all my life. Some balance would be really nice, so I'll be working on that from now on.

I am not only my thoughts - or my actions and reactions. I am more than my worries, my experiences and my feelings. I am all of these, combined. I just never wanted to know or understand why I am the way I am. But by diving deep-deep down into myself, and observing: exploring the why's and how's: questioning why I am the way I am - I'm learning. And learning is good. Learning will lead to growth, and growth is needed to evolve.

On good days, there is unity. On bad days, there is complete chaos. It's a work in progress.

Namaste

Title quote by Shakespeare.

What if we charged ourselves as often as we charge our phones?



I find writing to be a very deep form of self study, I even find it meditative at times. I felt forced to quit writing some years ago during a very turbulent time in my life, but that particular situation has changed, and I'm slowly realizing that I'm actually free to do whatever I want now. Free to do what feels good for me. And writing down my deepest thoughts, innermost feelings and personal discoveries has always made me feel better. If only for a minute. It's therapeutic for a busy mind like mine. A way to release tension, create balance and recharge my batteries. Therefore, I'm picking up my pen again, or in this case; a keyboard - so that I can continue my journey, my life.


I'm a year into my yoga journey now, and even though I'm a long way away from knowing myself fully, I've made some important discoveries along the way - aside from the obvious benefits of my regular asana practice. I've discovered that things that come natural to other people; like resting, restoration and reflection - actually are pretty important tools. Tools we need to survive, even in these modern times. Maybe now more than ever. But, how exactly do you rest? How do you restore? How do you reflect? No one ever taught me how to do any of these things. So, I started looking for definitions and concrete examples on how to do all these things, because I want practical solutions to my rather impractical problems. Specifics. Maybe even a step by step guide. Life, for dummies. I felt really stupid Googling things like "self love", "how to rest" and "what is meditation", to be completely honest, but it was the only way I could think of to learn these things. So that's what I did. And for the record, Google said that self love is "regard for one's own well-being and happiness", whatever that means.


I never really cared about this thing called "well-being" before, not until I discovered yoga last year. I of course wanted to be happy, healthy and a generally good person, but I never really reflected on how I could reach these very vague, yet important, goals in life. I didn't take time to study my thoughts, actions, opinions or reactions, so quite naturally, I never found any kind of answer. Being happy, healthy and good is definitely not something money can buy, even though a lot of people will try and do just that. I'm guilty of trying that. I did that earlier today. But, through some rather intense soul/Google searching, I've ended up with this "self love triangle", so to speak. No purchases required. This triangle consists of the three things I consider most important for my personal growth and well-being.

These are: meditation, mindfulness and restorative yoga.

Meditation is a tricky thing. It's a deeply personal and, for the most part, a very private experience. The concept may seem mysterious and rather abstract, and I guess it kind of is. I have not yet mastered meditation. My mind tends to wander, and I just can't seem to concentrate, so I get very frustrated and angry with myself whenever I can't do it on my own. That's not exactly the intended effect.. So, for a long time, I avoided even practicing it, but I recently discovered that guided meditations might be more my thing! I'm currently exploring different versions on audio books, since there really is an app for everything these days. It's going well. I don't recommend trying to understand meditation intellectually, you should use your brain power for more practical things like for example taxes, because I don't think any amount of logic is going to help with this particular practice. But, that's just my personal opinion. Just breathe, and concentrate on the breath. Inhale, exhale, repeat. Practice, and all is coming.


Mindfulness is another vague, but very necessary tool for me. It's like going on a mini vacation. I have not taken any courses or read any books on the subjects, but I've done a little research online, and it's one of those things that just come very natural to me. I think it's because I'm sensitive and mindful by nature, attentive. I was like this, even as a child. Observant and easily distracted by seemingly insignificant things: a flower growing through concrete or a rusted nail shaped like a half moon in the forest. All the smells, all the textures. I was all over these babies. So now, being present in the moment and finding joy; in the wind, in just breathing, being still, for a minute or two - is second nature to me. It is mindfulness to me. And I genuinely enjoy every second of it. Not everyone around me understands it, but it is not for them to understand. It is for me to experience. I'm not afraid to climb into a ditch to get a beautiful broken branch to bring home with me, or spin around like a ballerina in a parking lot. I don't give a single fuck. It's kind of awesome.


Restorative yoga is an easier concept to understand. It is a series of super comfortable and supported positions that allow your body to rest completely - so that your mind can rest completely. You get to use all the pillows and blankets and bolsters and blocks to make yourself as comfortable as humanly possible, while soothing music is being played in the background. And you will get to rest. Heavy. On the ground, or even in your bed if you want. I personally love going to restorative yoga classes, because this means I will be guided through every minute and I can allow myself to fully rest more easily. It is, when I think about it, very much like guided meditation.

Side note: The first few classes of restorative yoga felt really strange and unnatural to me. How on earth is someone supposed to rest in a room full of strangers? Why is my neighbor breathing so damn loud? Hello, personal space - you're a little close, aren't you? Why are you wiggling about down there? Who the fuck left their phone on? Annoying distractions beyond my control. All rather insignificant in the grand scheme. All mental obstacles for me to get the fuck over. So, I kept going, because I could feel that it was good for me. Letting go of that intense need to control everything, and always being in the fight or flight mode that comes with my PTSD and anxiety disorders. I knew that this was, and very much is, something that my body desperately needs. Restorative yoga does exactly what it is supposed to - it helps me rest. It gives energy, instead of just stealing it. 

So, that's it, my "self love triangle". The tools I use to recharge my body and my mind. I sometimes wish there was an easy way for all of us to recharge our batteries, something quick and efficient, like plugging in to an outlet or swiping a credit card. It would be very convenient, easy, mindless, modern. But, that would be robbing us of a very important human experience; of personal growth, learning and understanding - the world and ourselves. It will get easier with time, I'm sure of that, and maybe someday I will be able to plug in to my consciousness in a single heartbeat and just learn from within. Until then, I will continue my practice, the hard way. If there is one thing I've figured out, it is that the world will go on no matter what I do, so I might as well try and make it a good experience overall. It just took me like thirty years to get here. I need to be brave, so I'm going to try and do exactly that. How about you?


"You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self,
to live out your purpose and to do it courageously"
- Dr Steve Maraboli

Namaste

There is beauty in this world. I have found some, and I will keep looking for more.



I've been sharing my journey on Instagram for a while now, but sometimes I feel like that format is a little too small for me. Sometimes, it just isn't enough. So, I've decided that I might take up this blogging thing again. At least for today, at least for right now.

My one year yogiversary is coming up this month, and I feel like it's time to stop and reflect a little deeper on all the beautiful things my practice has given me. I want to give back in some way, maybe inspire someone else to look into yoga, and this is the best way I know how. By sharing my own experiences.

My yoga is a lifestyle. A mindful and beautiful lifestyle. My yoga cannot really be defined. I am yoga. I am imperfect. And, I am always changing. My yoga is not only about the physical postures, and it's definitely not about being perfect. It's about connecting with myself on a deep level and accepting my journey in life; trying and failing and not giving up. The past is the past - and now is now. Yoga is about being gentle, kind, giving and doing good, not just to others, but to ourselves as well. We don't have to live in a hut deep down in a fjord, do three hours of physical practice every day and only eat oats and berries to be good yogis. We just have to show up for ourselves - and others. And that kind of sums up my whole philosophy when it comes to yoga.

Some days, like today, I don't feel like stepping on my yoga mat. I don't even want to leave my house. I don't want to eat or do the dishes or get the mail. My mind is heavy. I feel drained, tired and stressed. I feel a lot, and I often do. It's exhausting at times, and a beautiful gift other times. But today, it is just exhausting. Yoga isn't a cure for my fatigue or depression, it doesn't take away my chronic pain, and it definitely doesn't perform any kind of miracle. It's a tool, and with this tool I can do some much needed work on myself. I can do physical postures or just take a moment and breathe, deeply, which is something I really suck at on a general basis. I can sit down on the floor and be completely still, even thought it may feel like one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. There is no phone, no TV, no iPad to distract me. Nothing. It's just me and my messy mind. And that is terrifying. To meet myself like that, completely, is a very scary thing. But, I will do it. Again and again. I will roll out my mat later today, and I will go sit on it and face my inner monsters. I will take a moment, I will breathe, and I will do this beautiful thing for myself, because, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I will feel better afterwards. My shoulders will have dropped down from my ears, my heartbeats will have slowed down and I will feel much calmer. It doesn't matter to me if this little break from reality lasts for three minutes - or three hours. All that matters to me is that exact moment of completeness; of unity. When it feels like I'm watching a rain storm from afar, while drowning in sunlight. That, to me, is yoga.


Namaste