Meditation and yoga. A rambling post…

I spent the weekend at a retreat led by the amazing Sarah and Ty Powers. Sarah is one of the founding yin teachers, and both her and her husband are Buddhists, and they merge Buddhist meditation with yoga. They are unbelievably amazing and inspiring and kind.

The retreat had me fly to BC and then drive 2 hours on my own. That alone is big for me. I never used to like driving…but I drove through a fire and my perspective has changed. I can do hard things. THis wasn’t hard.

Anyway. We spent Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday exploring the ideas of chi, cleansing breath, stillness meditation, relaxation and physical practice. I have never spent so much time I’m silent, sitting meditation, and I loved it.

During one of the earlier meditations we were encouraged to ask who was sitting. I allowed the though to come and I freaked out. Inside I found a scared and sad version of me, a me that was tired and scared and really wanted someone to hold me and tell me things are going to be ok. All the thoughts and fears of the past 6 weeks flooded in. Perhaps without my children around I was able to let go of the armour and be frightened.

It really shook me. I cried. It felt very relieving, but dragged down. It was hard.

 We followed the meditation with a physical practice, but I couldn’t get out of the poor me mindset. It was like my whole body was suddenly so heavy and tired. I wanted to go home.

After we were done I found Sarah and Ty and told them how I felt. They were very helpful, and encouraged me to make a plan to see my therapist when I got home, and to make a deal with myself that I would investigate and allow these thoughts their space. But that maybe in the mean time I could reassure my self I would be ok.

Later that day we performed the same meditation. This time I could still feel that sad and scared me, but I wrapped her up in a blanket and told her we would make sure she was cares for, but that we were going to find a way to explore today. I wouldn’t forget her.

It worked. I was able to find myself back in my mindful day. To find some of my inner stillness. And I will see my therapist tomorrow.

These are big things for me. I really struggle with identifying my emotions. It felt like a release. A bit of a letting go. A cracking open of a door I am sacred to look behind.

I didn’t know anyone at the retreat. Of course, everyone I met asked me about the fire, my house, etc. I think part of this experience was just a bit of rebound. At one point I thought, I wish my house had burnt down, then I would be deserving of sympathy.

That’s crazy. I don’t wish that, as many of my dear friends have lost their homes and it is devastating, but I am deserving of kindness and support, like everyone else. Why is it so hard to believe I am worthy of compassion? Or allowed to be weak?

Lots of thoughts this weekend. And I still go back to the realization that sobriety has been the launching pad from where I live. It was the decision to choose life over enduring that has given me the opportunity to find enlightenment. To be able to feel that stillness and know everything is as it should be. Even if it sucks.

As an aside, I though about becoming a Buddhist a lot and this weekend made me think about it again. But it takes a lot of time and work. Instead, I have found my own inner stillness and peace in my own way. I am already free. And yet still human. I guess that’s how it goes!

Stillness and peace


31 thoughts on “Meditation and yoga. A rambling post…

  1. Awww sweetie, I get that. Staying strong for the family. Then finally cracking in a safe place… good job. That’s how we role model strength. And then show our kids the tools to get through. I think of your daughter and hope she is caring for new animals in a shelter. Many cyber hugs!! Lori

  2. Oh Anne…
    I am so happy for you, that you were able to go to that retreat (I so badly want to go to one of Sarah’s insight yoga trainings!) and get in touch with that inner you.

    I have been racing and exploring and going to Buddhist meditations lately…i am really drawn to it; i guess we’ll see.

    There s a guy called Michael Stone, he is Canadian actually, and i have been practicing some of his guided meditations and listening to his recorded retreat talks…you might like him. He is ZEN, and I think that is a “harder”branch of buddhism. Check him out tho.

    that allowing yourself to be worthy of compassion and weakness is such an ingrained belief…you are not alone, certainly and ever, and recognizing it is so important.
    Sounds like the weekend was perfect for you (and I am awed by the silent part…that really scares me!)

  3. Wow Anne – you look after so many ( and here I include all of us struggling to be sober) you need to allow yourself to be cared for.. so glad you went on this retreat and felt the benefit. Sending you much love, Red xx

  4. Anne, as I was reading I wanted to give you a big hug. Finding those locked up emotions is tough. And it’s hard to see the scared part of yourself when you’re always so capable. But you’re loved, and lovely, even when you’re small and sad and scared. This sounds like a real breakthrough. Kudos to you for having the courage to do this, and the generosity to share it. xo

  5. It sounds like a wonderful retreat, something I would enjoy. I am hoping to attend something similar this year.
    I love the practice of meditation, mindfulness and stillness. I am not a Buddhist, I have my own faith, but enjoy the practical nature of these spiritual practices.
    It is good to be in touch with the inner you. I feel like you are breaking free from emotions that have tied you up for so long. Scary but freeing at the same time xx

  6. Perhaps it is not what you will become but who you already are that’s important right now. You do so much for so many – don’t discount that – you deserve more than you realise. I’m glad you found that blanket. xxx

  7. Thank you for the beautiful post. I particularly found your experience with meditation most helpful. Many of us have that scared little girl inside. We’re frightened for her; we feel for her. But, your thought of wrapping her up in a blanket was the perfect solution. Telling her everything will be alright is just what she needs to hear. Namaste.

  8. Anne thank you for sharing this. I can relate to much of it but for different reasons of course. I hope I don’t sound too crazy when I say this…for several years now I’ve hated feeling like I have to explain that my children’s father is a perfectly able, nearly-wealthy man who is just an ass who doesn’t see or raise his children…and at times I’ve wished he had died (I feel so horrible typing that) so that we could just have this clean simple reason that he’s not here, and then people would give us sympathy, instead of saying things like “well, at least he has to pay child support” and things like that.
    Reading your post just now inspired me to be honest about my thoughts like this…and helped me to realize that I too have a lot to grieve, but I often tell myself to “shut up and be grateful for what I have”…in doing this I know that I deny myself the space to really feel and grieve the loss of the marriage, life and family that I thought I would have when I got married and had kids…and honestly being sober and present has made that loss more apparent.
    Anne, I’m so sorry you’ve had to endure the losses of the past few months. I’m here anytime you want to talk.
    Thank you for sharing this post, it’s helped me more than you know.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that.
      I often back away from the concept of gratitude because people often use it as a reason to nullify their own or others problems.

      It’s isn’t that I am not grateful. I am thankful and appreciative of life, whatever it brings. But I don’t think it’s fair to feel compare myself to others. It’s a slippery slope.

      It sounds like you know what I mean. When we feel pressured to justify ourselves it creates a defensive shield. I haven’t found defensive shields very helpful in life. Too much hiding…

      Thanks Jenn

  9. I also find that going really deep and letting raw honesty come forth can be so transformative, with that warmth toward the terrified kid an essential part. It’s often about a terrified kid — wouldn’t it be nice if our culture gave us that idea, that we all are terrified kids inside and parents and the world can only do so much (and often they actually increase the terror), and one task of being a human being is getting the comfort elsewhere. From inside ourselves as well as outside ourselves. And, I also am drawn to Buddhist ideas and feel that it’s a fine route to go to borrow what’s useful and what we have time to figure out (though card-carrying Buddhists may disagree). Though FWIW I find the “should” in “everything is as it should be” unhelpful. (Must be a lousy translation of something.) I go with “everything is.”

  10. I loved the post. I have a hard time letting go, even in a setting with meditation, etc. I have this sense of propriety that’s hard to crack — one doesn’t cry in public. ; ) I also am drawn to Buddhism, and found the perfect blend of Christian/Buddhist thinking in A Course in Miracles. The best intro is “A Return to Love,” Oprah’s choice for “book that most changed her life.” Am I an evangelist or what?

  11. Anne! I am happy for you! โค
    And, not sure if the 'Why is it so hard to believe I am worthy of compassion?' Really is a question but what I sometimes do is make this a question and then start writing as if I had a conversation with my mother/father whomever I think has influenced my feelings/ideas about the subject. It is a practise in becoming aware of projections / finding out how I have experienced things / finding out how I think people are towards me. I am thinking, with what you wrote earlier, this practise could be informative. Not fun though, but informative. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    xx, Feeling

  12. What a great experiece you had! And while I know how hard that feeling all that you were was, it was also a cleansing. It seems that things are so much easier to deal with when brought to the light from the darkness. You have been through such a challenging time-with every opportunity -and some would say good reason-to drink. But you didn’t. To me you have handled it with Grace, Courage and Integrity. I too, at times am aware of a very scared child living deep within. I have to remind myself to tell her that I will take care of her at all costs-that I will keep her safe.
    Bowing to you with love!

  13. I am so glad you are writing about all of this. Thank you for sharing. I have been following you for awhile and amazed at your resilience in all of this. Your weekend retreat sounds amazing. Sometimes being alone and just allowing those feelings to come forth is all that is needed.

  14. A few weeks ago Haplesshomsteader did the Big Baby (the post I most recommend to others) post and mentioned the Buddist monk who welcomed the feelings “One monk I love says, welcome it with open arms. Give it a hug, and say, oh, your poor dear” and that is what you did with the scared and sad you. You accepted that part of you and gave it space. a long time ago I was scared to let my emotions out because I felt I would break open and never be able to put the pieces back together and I needed to be able to hold myself together. Hopefully you can return to that sad scared you to give comfort now you know it is manageable. Wishing you strength and peace Anne

    1. That is exactly how I feel, and have felt for years.
      Like if I let it out I will fall apart forever.

      This was a little bit of it, and I see that I didn’t fall apart. I have a good therapist who is helping me with the rest.

      I’ll go back and find that post!

      1. This really resonates with me. I have always been afraid to let it out for fear it will consume me. I have recently learned that I am capable of letting it out and then re-gaining composure fairly quickly actually. There is a natural rise and fall to these strong emotions. My therapist is also helping me see that I can also give myself time with these emotions- to carve out some time to care for myself in those moments. it sounded really weird at first but actually it really helps. much love to you!

  15. There is so much here that I want to respond to! You are so, so worthy of compassion, support, and love, and what you have been through and are still working through is devastating, regardless of whether your house burned or not. You drove through flames, in the middle of the night, with your family, unsure of what would happen, and you continue to live precariously with daily uncertainties that others can’t imagine. Of course you are worthy of support! I am sending huge hugs to you. If I was there, I’d wrap you up in a blanket and give you a great, big hug.

    When you described finding your inner, hurt, scared self who wanted to be held and reassured that everything would be ok, I thought of my own self. I’ve faced my own little, scared, wounded little self honestly and face-to-face a few times in my recovery, and it was shattering. I was back there again today. Work is just a bit overwhelming right now, and life has been in an upheaval for awhile, but I go about so focused and trying to just DO what I have to do that I don’t notice myself becoming harder and edgier, less compromising with myself, less tolerant of imperfections, less able to let things go, less self-affirming, increasingly rooted in negative thinking underlying which I’m pretty sure is my broken record of “not good enough,” “bad person,” “not working hard enough,” “undeserving.” This morning, I walked into my office, closed the door, and just broke down in tears. I couldn’t get this Pink song out of my head. “Just give me a reason, just a little bit’s enough. Just a second we’re not broken, just bent, and we can learn to love again.” Sometimes, I think of my life and my recovery as a relationship with myself. Almost a sort of love affair in an unromantic but protective and nurturing way. When I left my partial hospitalization program, I promised that I would take care of the hurt, broken girl who had been using an eating disorder to numb and avoid. I actually wrote her a letter. Today, it felt like I was suddenly realizing that for awhile now, I haven’t been doing that. I haven’t been showing her the compassion that she needs. That was more upsetting than the external stressors of work and life. I’m still trying to figure out how to move forward from this point, with my therapist’s help.

    I’m so glad that you have support around you, that you found support at the retreat, that you were able to find mindfulness, stillness, and peace, and that you are seeing your therapist and moving through wherever this phase in your journey is leading you. The growth comes through the hard stuff. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers! โค

  16. I am glad you went to the retreat Anne. You so deserved it. And thank you for sharing your feelings. It must be hard having to be the strong one all the time. But you have to take care of YOU as well. I wish I could let out my emotions like that. I have always bottled up my feelings and sometimes feel like I have a brick wall surrounding my heart. It’s painful. You need to keep an eye out for PTSD. What you have been through was so difficult and life changing, it is bound to affect you for a long time. Your yoga sounds wonderful and sounds like it is helping. Big hugs. A x

    1. I’m seeing a new calgary therapist who wants to do hypnotherapy.
      I have felt just that way for a long time.
      I feel I have Alexithymia. And it turned out this therapist is an expert on that.
      This retreat was a bit of a breakthrough. It took me a long time to get to here.

      You will too. A huge life changing event like getting sober leads us down the path of living an enlightened life.

  17. Anne, there is so much to say here, I’m not even sure where to start. Wait, yes I do, in your comment above you wrote a word I had to look up… alexithymia. Holy mackerel! As many times as you and I have commented on our shared concern about not being able to name feelings, I NEVER KNEW there was a name for it! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I cannot wait for you to start therapy, so I can learn stuff about myself ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love your experience about feeling those feelings, how they dragged you down, and how you worked through them. I have said aloud to a therapist, “One of the reasons I don’t want to tap into old painful feelings is the fear they will never leave.” You experience here shows a (fairly) clear-cut solution to that, and I love it! Incidentally, that experience is, more or less, the same advice my therapist gave to my dilemma… treat the feelings as you would the feelings of your small children… so the wrapping in a blanket made perfect sense to me! The fact that you were able to do it gives me inspiration.

    Finally, thanks for labelling this a “long, rambly” post. I just put one out a couple of days ago, and it had been a while since I did that. I had a bit of apprehension over it, probably because I am out of practice… who wants to read my stupid stuff? People will get bored with the length, confused with the stream of consciousness, yadda yadda yadda. Then I read yours, labelled the same, and I was entranced the whole way through. So you helped me to see that likely the harshest job of my work is me (hopefully, anyway!).

    Thanks for all of this, a great way to start our first official day of summer vacation ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Being a fond of a waffle and a ramble myself I always am delighted to see long posts and those streams of consciousness could just be what people need to see to relate. Our job (so to speak) is to put it out there and let everyone take from it what they will. Even if people don’t relate or enjoy it they very seldom will comment so. So bring on the long convoluted, rambling, meandering posts, you never know it could just change someone’s life. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  18. I love your post and am thinking of you….you are definitely an inspiration to us who are just in the beginning of this journey. Keep going and know that you have LOTS of support and are very, very worthy of love, compassion and many hugs ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Keeping feelings in to protect the feelings of others is exhausting, I’m not surprised you found someone scared and sad inside. Like others have written, it’s so important to give those feelings space and I’m glad you have a therapist who can work with you on that. I think this is one of those situations where you can keep saying to yourself ‘at least we have the house, our lives etc’ but it doesn’t make what you’ve been through any less terrifying or destabilising. Every time I see your name somewhere I think about giving yoga a try. I must just bloody do it! xx

  20. The retreat sounds great. Believe my you deserve the sympathy, it’s something I think a lot of people do. Think they don’t deserve sympathy as there are always others worse off, but you have been displaced from your home, that would be very stressful. I hope you can get back home soon. Sending positive thoughts from one side of the world to the other PDTG

  21. Anne, I am sorry you had a hard experience, but grateful it was with some safe instructors.
    I had to look up that word too.
    Is this partly due to being raised with a narcissistic mother?
    In any case, you help so many people, and I am glad you are getting help!

  22. Hi Anne, I’ve just read your blog and am totally blown away. There’s so much here that I don’t know where to start… Thank you so much for sharing this – I love your honesty and generosity. I’ve always thought I wouldn’t be able to meditate because my thoughts are all over the place and that’s really draining but you’ve inspired me to think again. Please, please know that you are worthy of compassion, love and support and look how much you’ve freely given to the rest of us through what you’ve written. On what is going to be a tough day, this was very moving for me to read, so thank you again for inspiring me. Please be kind to yourself and know that you are loved. Billie xx

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