“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
― Haruki Murakami
Through my Yoga & Ayurveda studies, I have repeatedly observed that lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise, and daily routine, can be a potent source of healing as well as a cause of disease. Many health problems seem intertwined with the stresses of daily life, family and relationship problems, and worries about jobs and money. Others are directly connected to eating the wrong kinds of food or getting too much or too little exercise. In regard to the stresses of daily life, I have learned that our emotions play a vital part in our physical health. In fact, this is obvious with a little observation. When a person is depressed their body shows it... slumped shoulders, chin down and forward, chest caved in some, combined with a lack of energy and sometimes appetite. When a person is proud, their head is held high, their chest is forward and reaching up towards the sky, their chin is up, they are full of energy.
I have also grown more and more aware that illness provides us with an invitation for self-transformation, an opportunity to change our way of thinking, feeling, eating, and in general caring for ourselves and our lives. It never ceases to amaze and delight me how quickly and powerfully life can be set on the right track and balance restored simply through a proper diet, herbal medicines, meditation, body awareness, an appropriate exercise program, and other purely natural means. For example:
In 2011, I entered the ashram at 7 Centers Yoga Arts Academy for my 200 hour, classically trained, Hatha Yoga teacher certification. Within the first week I became very sick. I had mucus coming from every hole in my head; I had a fever; I had the shakes. What caused this sickness? Upon reflection and education, I realized that it was stress that caused me to become ill. I was so nervous and so anxious and my body was so full of fear of the unknown. Deep down, while sick, my intuition told me that I was sick due to this stress, that I needed to chill out. I knew it! But I just didn't know it yet... I didn't know yet how to listen to my body. It was through my yoga studies and body awareness that it became clear to me... that my emotions have a direct impact on my overall health. Each time I've gotten sick over the years, I can directly connect it to a negative emotional state that I've been experiencing... and with practice, learn to change and avoid the sickness.
My Point. I miss my mom on a daily basis. I experience stress from work, bills, life in general. I worry. Sometimes I even freak out. But through yoga, meditation, and observation, I am aware that this happens. That I feel these things. This awareness helps me stop, reflect, and then change how I feel.
"Yes... I feel sadness... I miss my mom... I feel like crying... I will sit here with that for a moment and then I will think of how much I love her and how she is in a better place with less suffering... and I will make this cup of tulsi tea, roll my shoulders back away from my ears and straighten my spine and write this blog now."
"Yes, the fact that my computer just shut down for no reason, rendering this blog possibly unsaved, is really, really irritating. My heart is beating faster, I am scowling... chill out.. it's okay... you can start over... it's not the end of the world... relax your shoulders... relax your face... take a deep breath... maybe another deep breath... okay, smile and start over."
Just like that, we can cease to suffer. We all feel pain in some form or fashion throughout our lives. Pain lets us know we are alive! But we don't have to suffer dear yogi's. We can choose to smile, feel love, and let go.