This weeks letter:
Apologies - getting greedy now with a second question, but I seem to have somewhere along the way lost my ability to decision make! To trust myself and my instincts.
Stress and an incredibly hectic year led me to developing an overactive thyroid, it has since gone the other way, but, I now feel the need to buy lots of health food products, go to nutritionists, dieticians, kinesiologists, essential oil advocates, get distracted by everything offering a 'solution' on Instagram, even though I know that really and truly I shouldn't need all these extra and really expensive outside sources to help my body heal itself.
I've loved your classes so much for reminding me of this! Thanks so much in advance Anna, I'm so grateful to have found you and your incredible classes”
Hello everyone, before I answer Julie’s question I feel that it is important to say that finding the answers to questions concerned with our health & well-being is complex, as there are many potential interpretations and reflections that could be considered.
So, with this in mind, I wish to be transparent about how I will answer.
Firstly, I remain true to my personal experience and the practices that I have been immersed in for a large part of my life.
These reflections are, therefore, by no means ‘answers’ – or a panacea to life’s challenges; more reflections for you to consider – to sit with and feel your way through.
They are an invitation, if you like - to find your own answers… eventually.
Secondly, I will provide some practical advice (so keep reading if this is what you are interested in) that I have found profoundly helpful.
Please feel free to send in comments below (or via the community newsletter link) if there is something that you would like me to expand upon, or (re) consider.
I will refer to everyone who sends in questions by a different name to ensure anonymity.
So, here we go…
I have chosen this question first (before your other one), because I feel that it provides a really great opportunity to explore an issue that many of us have grappled with – one that gets to the heart of our healing journey.
As you allude to in your letter, there is a tendency to look outside of ‘ourselves’ for answers. While sometimes this may very well be a wise decision (for instance, asking for help from others during a crisis), it can also feel as if we are on a conveyor belt of difficult experiences that keep ending up at the same place, with little change or relief.
Let’s put it simply: you can be running to the gym every day, have your kitchen stocked with healthy power foods, and even have the much need TLC massage at the weekend, but still suffer with stress, a sense of hopelessness and an eerie discontentment that cannot be filled with relationships, sex, drugs, alcohol or food (for example)…
So, what is this void that needs filling? What is the undercurrent that flows beneath your inability to make decisions, or find fulfillment in all these complementary services that your refer to?
What is really going on?
Firstly, before we get into some practices that may help, I feel it is important to take a moment to consider the healing jigsaw puzzle.
I am a great advocate for ‘healing’ and much of my own journey has involved studying (for instance) herbs or foods that soothe the scars of my own physical or emotional suffering.
But, let’s start our conversation by considering how the definition of healing, which implies the process of making healthy again, can become problematic when it comes to emotional, rather than physical, states.
Often the back-story behind the desire to ‘heal’ is accompanied by feelings associated with needing to be different, to fit in, to look or feel like someone else, to change who we actually are.
While we may at some stage in our life need to explore healing modalities (physical, emotionally, psychologically – complementary or orthodox.), I believe that the principle foundation to all of this is the need to (re)connect with our true nature, which is at all times whole, even when we are experiencing illness, separation, anxiety, fear, loss, guilt, pain, and all the other conditions that make up the world of experience. In other words, nothing about our true nature needs to change, we are perfect, just as we are, even with all our perceived failings and life events.
My own ‘healing’ only really shifted once I realized this. Before this, it didn’t matter what I did, or where I travelled, I believed that I was imperfect. I felt that I was not enough, lesser than what I should be!
I felt lost and incomplete.
And, within this turmoil I created a veil between my true nature and my perceived sense of self - one that blurred my vision, and led me into a dream of separation and aloneness.
So, what was it that caused this duality? It was my mind - the stories I told myself, based upon my past experiences, and social conditioning.
And, no amount of complementary medicine could change this. Yes, they helped, alleviated, and even provided physical ‘healing.’ But, the inner drama only ceased once I sat still long enough to move beyond my thinking, to turn my gaze upon my true self – that which is whole - right now – even when life appears otherwise.
Within all aspects of life is your ‘divine’ light, and it shines bright even when you choose to look away, or you are too full of anguish to feel its vibration.
So, if this ‘divine’ spark of wholeness exists at all times within us, why is it so hard to access?
We live in a society that tends to make us feel uncomfortable with pain and suffering. We push these experiences away, try to change them and even live in denial. A symptom of this avoidance is that we run toward experiences that we feel alleviates our suffering (even instagram, oils and all the other things mentioned in your opening question).
In yoga we practice becoming more intimate with all that we are. We do not push our pain aside. We bring it closer. We shower it with compassion and sit in grace until its energy transforms and is released.
So my dearest Julie, I invite you to start by accepting yourself as you are right now:
First. Meet yourself.
Second. Accept everything about yourself without judgment.
Third. Transcendence. Awaken to your wholeness – your ‘divine’ self.
Fourth. Integration. Live Your Life. Trust. Follow your Golden Thread.
Consider what it may feel like to release all the judgments & expectations that you seem to be placing upon yourself. You are perfect right NOW - with all your stress, work, thyroid – weight –etc… You are beautiful, graceful, kind & loving – right now!
In addition Julie, much of the ‘things’ that you refer to in your letter may be of some use, although I would always advise seeing a qualified practitioner to establish this. However, – in my view – these complementary approaches need to be part of a regular practice that enables you to break through the illusionary separation that is embedding stress, anxiety, and a sense of lack of fulfillment in your life.
I feel that it is important for you to just sit with yourself and reconnect with your true nature… and let your energy express itself in the moment and guide you to the next moment– and the next.
From this point onward, decisions will unfold more easily.
A PRACTICE THAT YOU MAY FIND USEFUL:
We have a tendency to experience our lives through our vision and mind (our centre-point of consciousness).
Physically, this feels like it is just behind the eyes.
A really powerful yoga practice is to bring your focus down into your heart centre (not over your physical heart, but just below your breastbone – sternum – to the soft little bit under the bone).
Take a few minutes sitting in meditation. Become aware of your feet if you are standing, or your sit bones if you are sitting.
Drop your awareness into your body and sense how you feel. Pay attention to your thoughts, feelings and any sensations that ebb and flow through your body. Just let them move, if possible without attachment, but, if you do feel attached - do so without judgment. Just experience!
Then, slowly and gently bring awareness to the character, texture, length and quality of your breath.
Relax the jaw and facial muscles, let the breath move deeper and drop the sense of self from the head down into the heart centre.
Remain here for as long as it feels comfortable. Go to the edge of your comfort zone and pause here. Never force yourself to go further. Extend your meditation comfort zone slowly, over time.
If thoughts wander or become too claustrophobic, re-focus upon your breath and bring yourself back to the practice without pushing any feelings away, but neither becoming preoccupied with the stories. Let them move through your consciousness, unhindered.
Finally, reconnect with your feet or sit bones, while being aware of your connection to the earth, and gently drop your chin slightly to the chest as you slowly open your eyes and realign with the light of the room or surroundings.
Do not rush out of the practice. Integration is essential. The transition from meditation to daily life is the key to integrating the experience into your daily life.
Reflect for a few moments on how you now feel.
See if anything feels different?
What does the world feel like when the ‘centre of you’ is deep in your heart chakra, rather than in your head?
How does your body feel?
Consider what it may be like if your heart becomes the place from which you engage with the world and your life?
You may become aware of some uncomfortable feelings when you focus upon your heart centre.
And this is okay. Be present. Trust your innate intelligence to unfold in whatever way is ‘right’ for you at this present moment in time.
Try engaging with your heart in every area of your life. The key is trust – trust in yourself.
Thank you so much Julie for sharing your inner world with me. I am honored & I hope that these reflections may be of some use to you.
With all my love, Anna
Would you like me to answer your 2019 health & well-being question? Then sign up to our newsletter (form at the very bottom of this page) and send in your query. I look forward to hearing from you. xx