How many old stories do you tell yourself that are just no longer true? Seriously think about them because I know I’m sick of the ones I’ve been telling myself for years. At best these stories were once how I survived the reality of my life. At worst now, they feel like delusional sabotage.
My most recent case in point? Last month I signed up for a TRE, Tension Releasing Exercise workshop at my yoga studio on Sunday, Sept. 20th. I thought I could use with some tension releasing. The facilitator, Tracy, says the body stores traumas and unreleased tension/bad experiences in the psoas muscle (Google it folks because I’m not going into a long drawn out explanation). The TRE is a set of exercises designed to hyper arouse the psoas muscle into LOTS of intense shakings and trembling which releases emotions stored there for years in a lot of cases. I had already experienced a small version of it in my first 5-6 yoga classes so I thought I could handle it with no problem. Well the story that began working on me started with propaganda or misinformation. The TRE workshop is from 1 pm to 2 pm, but for some reason in my head I thought it was from 1 pm to 3 pm! I went to a lecture the week before about the heart chakra (Anahata) and that was 2 hours, but all of the posts about the TRE workshop say it’s from 1 pm to 2 pm. Telling myself the workshop is 2 hours long was the beginning of dreading it. Could I even sustain that kind of physicality and emotion for two hours? I woke up this past Sunday morning not feeling so great. Nothing major, but it didn’t help thinking I had a 2-hour exercise workshop that was supposed to help release stored negative emotions or trauma. When I arrived there were a few women who had already set up their yoga mats, so I set mine up accordingly. I was assured by the owner of the studio that I was going to be fine when I admitted I was nervous. I laid down on my mat and did some deep breathing. My head was telling me I was crazy for doing this now that the workshop was here, it wasn’t safe(old story)! I continued to breathe and thought about how wrong the story was. This studio was safe for me because as I wrote earlier, I’d been having emotions come up during yoga classes, from the beginning in that very room. The teacher arrived and there was a lot of activity getting everyone’s mats comfortable with blankets and keeping them away from the walls because we would be using the walls for our exercises. From the start of the workshop, my head would not shut up, and that is not a good thing. It was telling me I was too heavy to do the warm-up exercises. I started to feel like the voice in my head was right and I couldn’t do this. Then we did the first exercise and I did not handle it well. My head kept telling me I couldn’t do this until I felt like it was right. We were to hold a certain pose with our backs and head against the wall in a squatted position, the deeper the better. We were not supposed to straighten our legs or take our backs off the wall and come out of the pose (I did, many times). By this time, I was actively fighting the urge to roll up my mat and run from the studio. I couldn’t breathe deeply and rhythmically either. I was fighting this with all I had. Geez. My teacher went around the room checking in with everyone, mind you, we’re still supposed to be in this pose! When she got to me and asked how I was doing, tears flooded from my tightly clenched eyes and I whispered to her that I couldn’t do this. She assured me that I could and asked me if I could squat a little deeper and widen my stance. She was so calm and reassuring about my tremblings and shaking. She got me breathing even though I was really doing deep sobbing by this time. It seems either my psoas muscle was activated despite my best efforts at resisting or I was just an emotional mess. Either way the tears and tension were releasing. We ended up holding that pose for twenty (20!) minutes! A lot less for me but I did keep going back into the pose and holding it as long as I could with my thighs screaming and my low back/hip area quaking. Next we moved to the mat and did a more familiar exercise and the quaking involved with that is beyond intense. Again the emotions came up, spilling over in tears and clenched fists. When the teacher came around, she gentled my fists until I relaxed them, all the while deep breathing through the quaking and crying. After that exercise came the soothing stretching and Savasana (resting corpse pose). It was over before my head could get back to squawking. I thanked my teacher while hugging her and confessed that I wanted to leave earlier. She quietly said she knew and thanked me for staying. The reality is that despite the vicious conflict within myself, I stayed for that damn workshop and did the best I was capable of. I am capable.
I also need to be careful with taking on other people’s stories as part of my own experience. My parents split when I was seven years old. My mom raised my sister, Michelle and I as a single mother. She held a lot of resentment against my father for not helping to raise us and for not helping with financial support. I’m sure his drinking didn’t help. She had a right to feel the way she did, but she also passed along that resentment to me with her stories about him. The resentment passed on to me never kept me from loving my Dad, but they were there because of someone else’s story. The reality was I grew up to develop my own resentments of him based on my personal relationship with him, but he loved my sister and me. He was entitled to our love and resentments based on our own experiences with him.
I just know that I’m exhausted. Not just from the TRE workshop, which worked despite my best (worst) efforts to sabotage it. I’m exhausted from the awareness and presence of my old stories. My old fear based, restrictive messages designed to isolate and keep me from the growth God has in store for me. It’s time to replace the stories with the reality of life. A reality faced with curiosity, willingness, trust, and faith. Shit, let’s not forget to put some humor in there too!