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  • Ashley Brown

Summer Update

As the weeks have rolled by I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. Why did I disappear into crisis mode where only one thing mattered? My husband is going through a medical emergency. All of my priorities and responsibilities went to the weigh side and they still feel like they are. Turning my focus into being a caregiver: I didn’t know what that meant (really) or how to do it.

Soon after finding out the news of my husband’s brain cancer and after his surgery I attended a workshop with celebrity yoga teacher Seane Corn, Yoga of Transformation. I didn’t think I needed it; I thought, “My husband he needs me and I am taking care of myself, this is wrong.” Oh no! It was so needed and so right in this part of my life. As I dive deeper into the world of trauma and healing I forget how much I still need to heal as human being. Let alone when we are going through our own traumas and tensions of everyday life. The first night I was questioning if I would get anything from the workshop, and if I should be there instead of with my husband. Seane walked into the room and I thought, wow she’s really here, the diva celebrity of social justice is here. I was SUPER nervous because of that idea of who I thought she was. We gathered closer to her in a small circle and talked about the weekend and within the first 20 minutes I was in tears, not of fear or anger, but of “Holy crap, how did Seane know what I have been going through these few weeks?” That’s when I realized I got my money’s worth and the day wasn’t even over! Seane has been very open about her life and her experiences as being a human. Her own father went through his journey with cancer. At the end of the night and more crying I waited to talk with her and let her know what was going on and the one thing from that conversation is I have to be strong, loving and my emotional stuff is not as important as my husband’s, and what he is going through, through HIS own journey. That was/is difficult since my whole life has been about ME! A true narcissist, but with a bit more humility, I hope. To be on the silent supportive side is very difficult especially when you think your way of doing things is better or safer. All you can do is live that truth and hope those who love you will see it in time and will also follow a path of safer and more compassionate way of doing things.

The weekend was split up to talk a little bit about trauma and where it might reside in the body. The first night was all about the first two chakras (pronounced CHA-k- rA), which I still work on and through; these are the most primal emotions and experiences of all the chakras. Family, sensuality, sexuality, security, relationships, emotions they all are directly related to your pelvic floor and sacrum area. One thing I tend to teach is breathing in a mindful way. Throughout my classes, I take the student’s back into their breath especially when they feel like they want to give up and get out of the pose. Instead of avoiding the pose and what it might bring up, you can breath into, listen and learn from that particular experience. To all of my students and students of yoga in general, sooner or later you will have to face yourself (and the baggage that you have been hiding in the depths of your subconsciousness) and it might not be pretty, but you can learn and grow from those experiences. In this 2 hour practice we focused on the lower 2 chakras, I felt a sense of grounding, opening and relief of what I had been holding onto, not only for the past few weeks at the hospital with my husband, but for the past 20 years: stuff from my mother’s kidney transplant (at the tender age of two I was apart from her for about a month); my brother’s 10 year battle with drug addiction which eventually lead to his death; to my own own physical and emotional traumas. All of these are just the superficial experiences of being a human, where we can learn to grow. But once these experiences are re-triggered, relived, or as Seane put it, time traveled, how do we heal from that experience?

With love, forgiveness and compassion. Love the element we are all made up of and all desire as being a human and forgiveness of those “mistakes” or lessons (still working heavily on this one). Finally, Compassion or Ahimsa (which means non-harmfulness), the first restraint, from the 8 limbs of yoga explained in the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, the first limb in the tree of yoga. Where does this all reside? In the heart chakra or thymus gland which is in the middle of your sternum and off the left (or right depending on your own physiology). The second day of the workshop we worked solely on the heart chakra and the idea of forgiveness.

Love. Love will save us from our desires, our pain and our suffering. Love is what connects us as humans. Love is the vibration that resonates throughout all of us, our connectedness. One beautiful thing I have experienced in this life is the unconditional love that we all seek. I have a wonderful relationship with my mother and through thick or thin she has shown to me unconditional love. Mothers everywhere might know about this. When the child doesn’t get their way and they yell that you’re the worst and they hate you; 20minutes later they are back in your arms apologizing and saying how much they love you. My mother was a rock in those situations. In the face of anger and hate she still showed love. She would be there to let me crawl into her lap after the fight and apologize and let her know how much I did love her. Sometimes, unconditional love is not so easy to find; we search sometimes in the wrong places or the wrong people show up when we are vulnerable and willing. That is not the love we are truly seeking. We must first look within to find the love outside of us, the unconditional love that resides in all of us.

We ended that weekend on an elevated place with the last 3 upper chakras: throat (Thyroid/Parathyroid gland) third eye(Pituitary gland) and crown (Pineal gland). Sunday was ironically a prayer and spiritual based class. Coming into the yoga my body, bones and breath knew this was the physical to spiritual practice for me. Yet with the Hindu religion, colonization and simply being a Westerner I felt this was a difficult place for me to learn and grow in a spiritual realm. But lets put god in this aspect they are the eternal vibrational charge that connects us all at the deepest level in the form of truth and love. How simple yet so real. First the class was for you to re-ground and re-center from the early work we did and then we sent that energy to those that we wanted to forgive, thank, and to those who needed some protection and love. All of the asanas (poses) became something more than what we are. We were surrendering ourselves over to the higher power/creator to become a vessel for the work we needed to do in social justice, caretaking, etc., thus reframing why we do yoga, why we need to do yoga and how can we make yoga an offering to those who might need some extra love and positivity.

Being a caretaker isn’t easy, because you are everything but the patient. You are not the one going through the journey, yet you are there for pretty much everything else. You have to take care of yourself, love, accept, be compassionate and forgive (often), and then you have to be able to share with those closest to you.

Being a teacher isn’t easy. I am there falling and failing in front of my students, yet trying to support them in their practice of learning, falling, failing and finding the compassion in hard stuff, holding the emotions and experiences that come up and finally notice why and do we need that energy anymore. Can we breath and let that emotional tension or trauma or stress go?

Before this blog turns into a short story I will leave you with a bit of love and strength given to us through these times being a human from The Bhagavad Gita:

“This is an hour of crisis. Why such weakness of heart? It is inappropriate. Stand up…Do not grieve for the loss of the body or the rebirth of the soul. You are a warrior fighting a just cause. There is no need to hesitate.”

Chapter2 Verses2-3 and 25-31 from Gita Wisdom by Joshua M. Greene

Peace be with you.

#Yoga #Trauma #caretaking #workshops #chakras #love

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