There are few things that excite me more than the infinite possibilities contained in one single blank page. The page is a mirror, reflecting the soul and mind of the writer manipulating its contents. Most importantly for me, the page is a tool through which I communicate everything from my deepest thoughts to simple one-line messages to a lover or friend. The process of writing is spiritual for me, surrounded by its own set of rituals and meticulous workflow. Step one, clear the mind, breathe, and focus on the task at hand. Step two, set your intention. Step three, flow.
This is how I think of so many things in my life now, in yogis terms. Seven months ago, I wouldn’t have been able to hear the background sound of a room I was sitting in, much less focus on a task for more than a few minutes. My mind was so loud it drowned out everything around me.
I had my first panic attack one night in early March. I woke up so convinced I was having a heart attack that I made my then-partner call an ambulance. I had another at lunch the next day. The following four months were a blue of anxious thoughts, change, daily panic attacks, and a complete disassembly of my identity. I couldn’t sleep or calm down, nor would I fathom how and why my body had suddenly decided to revolt against all logic. I’d always been a fairly laid-back person, but this new me had found something to be anxious about every hour of the day.
The only thing that allowed me some semblance of peace was following along to Yoga with Adriene videos, so I embarked on the well-known and oft unfinished Thirty Days of Yoga. By the end of the videos, I’d caught the yoga bug. I’d never remotely been a flexible person before. I was always the one girl that failed the flexibility portion of the Presidential fitness tests in elementary school. But the day I discovered that the key to the forward fold was to let your head hang down freely, I felt as though I’d won a sort of bodily lottery.
I moved back to Akron in may to stay with my parents for awhile after a pretty messy break up. Though I’d been in therapy for a few months, the panic attacks and anxiety hadn’t really ceased. I’d just found ways to cope. I biked constantly, and when I wasn’t biking I was still doing my yoga videos with Adriene. In June, although I felt pretty nervous about it, I thought it was time to take my practice to the next level and join a studio. One of the first classes I attended was Vin + Yin with Elizabeth. The music was exactly the kind I loved to listen to, and she started the class with the lesson of how the caterpillar becomes a butterfly by existing in, then forcing its way out of a cocoon. That resonated with me and I began to envision myself in a cocoon- the darkness of my anxiety- preparing to break out as a more fully-formed, more at peace person.
Yoga has shown me how to take care of myself. When in practice, you let your body guide you through pose after pose, you teach yourself an agency you might not otherwise have known. I’ve learned over the past few months how to use what I learn on the mat to guide my life. Yoga is an effervescent teacher, worming its many lessons into the intricacies of its practitioners’ lives gradually and completely. When I sit down to write, I set my intention, clear my mind, and flow. When I wake up, I give thanks. I breathe. I listen to my body and when it tells me to rest, I rest. I am present (at least I try to be). When I’m not present, learning to be kind to my distracted mind becomes part of my overall practice.
I’m learning that my body isn’t a cage, it is instead my refuge. The panic attacks have mostly stopped, and most days I feel a freedom I couldn’t have imagined earlier in the year. More than that, I’ve found this beautiful community that I feel blessed to be a part of. I hope to keep growing with ya’ll both in class and outside of it.