I’ve been working on my “issues” of late.
My issues/baggage/neuroses/problems/mental clutter/obsessions/afflictions have been constant companions throughout my adult life. I am so comfortable with most of them, that I’m not even sure who I would be if they went away (and isn’t that the problem we all have?).
Despite the fact that they caused me upset, grief, resentment and anger I carried on, persisting with these emotional patterns, over and over.
Something has happened though. Well, a combination of things.
My recent miscarriage, of all things, seems to have grounded me. And in the tender, impressionable days following my loss I read two books: Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin and Sacred Fire by Kino MacGregor.
This seemingly innocent trio has started an avalanche. First came the realisation of how negative and bitter my thoughts had become. Then the revelation that my thoughts (and consequent high levels of stress) could be affecting my health. Then the slow belief that we can change our thoughts because they are just thoughts.
The morning I woke up in the hospital, I started keeping a list of gratitudes. The first thing I wrote was:
That I am alive.
I’ve added many, many things to that list since then.
Being grateful really does make me more inclined to notice the good. It helps me see the things that I should be appreciating.
But not only that.
I’ve been working, practicing seeing old hurts in a different light. In the light of forgiveness.
At first it felt wrong, and strange, like something terrible might actually happen if I let go and accepted things for how they were.
But as the days have drawn on and I’ve kept up that openness inside me, things have stared to shift. I have been meditating, just quietly being in my own body, almost every night. I have started practicing yoga – something I had always dismissed, but which seems to have opened up a new path for me. I have even held a small private ceremony where I burnt pieces of paper that contained old hurtful thoughts (yes, even for me that’s a little weird, but hell, you should have seen those papers burn).
I always thought that getting over emotional issues was something that just happened one day, when you were ready, or when life was right, or when cosmic justice dished out an appropriate punishment for the offender.
It doesn’t. You get over an emotional issue when you are ready to let it go.
No one else can help you, or do it for you.
Letting go is not easy. Sometimes I have a moment of fear or doubt, that somehow I am weak or gullible for not having that hurt inside me to remind me of the pain of trusting the wrong person. But then I realise that releasing old hurts and moving on doesn’t have to erase the lessons I have learnt from them.
I can still be me, but without the pain.
So each day, I step a little further into the light.
It is terrifying and wonderful all at the same time. Who am I if I am not who I think I am?
I know I could, at the drop of a hat, run back into the darkness. If I stop being mindful of my emotional state, it will slip back into old habits. Ingrained patterns of thinking do not disappear overnight.
So I will keep writing my gratitudes each day, and I will keep giving myself the gift of mental quietness, and I will keep my heart open, because with practice, emotional peace will eventually settle. It will become a habit. A habit that will change everything on the inside.
And for that, and the realisation that change is directly within my reach and under my control, I am also grateful.
Kino MacGregor posted this on Instagram today:
“Practice Santosha, contentment, and learn to be at peace with yourself and the world around you. After many years of practice you will get saumanasya, the cheerful, joyful yogi’s mind. Cultivating love for all aspects of your life is the essence of yoga and when it is perfected you will have a happiness that shines forth regardless of what lies out on the horizon. I didn’t invent this, it’s straight out of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Book II 😊“
Emotional peace really does take practice.