Saturday, May 23, 2009

Soul Yoga

BlissChick wrote a post about moving through depression that Svasti has been talking about, too. In her post BlissChick identified something I have been working on, and explained it really well. It has to do with unpacking the stories of one’s life.

I have had some old stories packed away inside myself and during these last several years I have been unpacking these treasures in every way I can.

One thing I think it’s important to understand about this process is that you can control the flow. In fact it might be unhealthy to do this too much or too quickly. We have the rest of our lives to unpack our baggage so there is really no rush. Working too fast can be overwhelming. It is of vital importance to move forward compassionately, and it can be helpful to include other people that you trust.

The benefits of defining your story are enormous. Unrecognized past trauma festers under the surface like a psychological boil. And when it is released we are free to heal from it. Otherwise, our reactions in everyday life can come from this unresolved stuff, resulting in unintended consequences that we do not want.

There are a number of ways to do this. As BlissChick said in her post, journaling is one—a good one. There can be fears around telling (even a piece of paper) your darkest moments. So you have to find a way that feels safe.

A student once voiced a fear of the evidence a journal might leave, and said there might be situations where a journal might be used in the court of law (perhaps, in a divorce). If this is the case, I recommend opening up a blank file on the computer, write your story and don’t save it. Just trash it at the end of the session. To be psychologically free of something we have to define it. Otherwise we can become like marionettes controlled by the unconscious machinations of repressed trauma. And there is no reason to go back to these words. Once it is done, it’s done. So I think it’s okay to throw away old journals. The benefit comes from understanding your self better, not from having a bunch of old books.

This being said, I realize that it could seem funny coming from me. After all, I write this public blog where I write personally. However, as you might imagine, I do consider what I want to share. I find a way to share the personal story if I feel that it serves the purpose of this blog. That being said, I have experienced incredible healing benefit from keeping this blog. My commitment to it has kept me moving with writing in an incredibly satisfying way. And knowing that I am sharing it with others forces me to communicate an idea fully—so someone else can get what I’m talking about. So keeping this blog has helped my growth tremendously. Another thing I consider is how these words might affect someone else. And I hope that this work is helpful to others.

Another way to define your personal story (besides journaling) is to tell it to someone else. You must trust this person, so your truth can flow freely. And this person must listen and show that they understand. It is crucial that you get a caring and non-judgmental ear for these revelations about your self.

You can also find the support of a group. I have found some of the techniques taught by Woman Within to be helpful. And I meet with a group of supportive women every two weeks.

There are also other psychological techniques where people get to experience or act out their stories. Find a way that suits you, if it suits you to do so. As I say this a mama-bear aspect of myself comes up and says: Do not allow someone else tell you that they know the answer for you, because they can’t. At this level of personal, soul work we are each on our own. What another person can teach you is a helpful technique. You must find your own understanding.

This is soul yoga—another level of integration. When we are repressing our stories to show the world an unblemished face, we (perhaps unknowingly) are also cutting ourselves off from our life force and our personal treasure. And when we become more integrated and accepting of ourselves, we also become happier and able to live more fully. Loving your self enough to define those dark bits by expressing what happened AND how you felt about it, with words written or said (possibly also with other arts like music, painting, dance, etc.) has the power to take you out of despair. I know this through my experience. It is ongoing work. It is worthwhile work. It also becomes joyful work. I dance on the bones of my past trauma. I know it might sound macabre, but this is a strange world where there is wisdom and insight to be found in birth and death.


Eco Yogini said...

I really like this idea of "unpacking our stories". I like that you (and blisschick) refer to them as stories. :)

elderyogini said...

Hi Brooks...sorry it's been so long since I've commented...
This post is incredibly meaningful and touches many layers for me.

I have railed against "face" for so long...a friend who have covered up severe self-injury for many years, another colleague who kept her heroin addiction a secret from her closest buds, the husband of a very dear friend who suicided completely unexpectedly...

AND YET, when I look into my past, there is my own "Face" staring back at me.

My motto has been What you see is What you get from me...BUT...I know from writing, that there is a continual process of picking and choosing what I share with the world. I am in a constant state of creating my personality. Blog writers can really see that in a physical way. WE know that each page or post creates another dimension to the online persona.

And then the questions arise, Is this who I want to be? Is this the persona which will benefit my readers? Then I almost always end up asking,- and this is the one the monkeys get hold of way too often: Is there something else I should be doing that would use my time, talents, and energy in a more beneficial manner?

It all begins and ends with accepting WHO I AM, blood, guts, obnoxious laughter and all.

I have to spend a fair amount of effort practicing faith and unattachment with my blog as well as with my SELF.

As you say, looking at oneself frankly and with as much honesty as one can muster, can be totally overwhelming. So DEVELOPING FRIENDSHIP with myself becomes #1 priority and I try to take the process a tad more slowly.

"I dance on the bones of my past trauma." Ahhh, love this. Shiva is smiling a funny cockeyed grin deep inside as well.

Anonymous said...

I write rather personally as well, and yet don't include all the things I need to write on myy blog. That much is becoming more and more apparent.

I really like your term 'Soul Yoga' as well. Seems very appropriate...

Amanda said...

Hi Brooks,

I've struggled with how much of my own journey through depression and the inappropriate relationships I had (see my latest post) to share on my blog.

Anyone who wanted to find me could find me, I live in a small town (although it's considered a large country town by Australian standards), and the circles I move in are tight and incestuous. It would be easy to identify the other characters in 'my story', and their ex-significant others still live here.

Then there's the issue that my partner might read my blog - and re-experience the hurtful beginning to our relationship.

But sometime, I am going to have to tell the whole shameful story on paper (or computer screen) to get it out of my head and heart and soul.

Which is where your posts hits the nail on the head. It is about choosing how much to share, and when. I do have a whole lifetime (well, whatever is left when you're already 42!) to work through it. Even the ugliest bit of all that I've never shared or written about.

In trying to deal with depression that just would not let go, I found that my journal and a few exercises from self-help books worked for me. Being a writer meant that I could glide easily over the page, fully express myself and make progress. Working with a psychologist and then a life coach also helped me immensely.

Anyway, I've dribbled on too much again! Thanks for your post and thanks as always for visiting my blog

YogaforCynics said...

I've recently been doing some writing by hand every day...which is notable because I NEVER write by hand if I can help it (other than little notes here and there). I've found myself letting loose with some painfully personal stuff I've never let out onto the page before. And, it occurs to me, the reason for this may be precisely the reason that I don't normally write by hand--what comes out is illegible to anyone but me (and, often, to me, as well). Thus, without even realizing it, I found a way around the "evidence" problem you bring up that satisfies my internal censors...

Note: the word verification for this comment is "facks," which is fitting, since getting the facks down is just what we're talking about here....

RB said...

I've always thought that if you are repressing something, you are "lying" to the world. When you know you're not being yourself, it shows through in all relationships. Your stories don't have to be something you tell to everyone you have relationships with, but you have to know what they are in order to interact at your greatest capacity.