As a sensitive and expressive young girl I thought it was normal to shriek when you were happy, wail when you were sad, and shout when you were angry. Why wouldn’t I want to communicate every emotion from the bottom of my heart and share it with everyone in my life?
I learned at an early age however that my desire to express myself was far too much for everyone to handle, which directly translated to the message: I was too much. I was too happy, too sad, too mushy, too dramatic – and the kicker – too emotional. Which resulted in me continuously feeling shh’d.
By early adolescence I learned that to be accepted, popular and loved meant that I should be laid back and eager to please. “Forgive! Forgive! Forgive!” said my Sunday school teacher. Anger? Hurt? Irritation? “Keep it to yourself”, chimed generations of fellow shh’ed girlfriends. “No one needs to know what is going on inside.” More importantly, “no one wants to know”. At age fifteen I was a pro at the “shut up and swallow it” game.
So there I was – an adult – about to embark on a 4-month yoga teacher training at Octopus Garden. It had been almost an entire year since I had shed a tear and at the time I was pleased. Obviously, well on my way to becoming a yogi master. Samadhi, I’ve got my eye on you.
I entered the program with high expectations. I had heard whispers of Pat meditating your leg around your head and Scott’s ability to put you into a peace coma with one zen-like smile. I was ready to learn anatomy like a champ, soak up Sanskrit, meditate with Pat, chant alongside Scott, and bond with my fellow students.
I began by reading books that sung like poetry to the soul and inspired the heart to connect to the body and then I started to – whoa, – wait – what – Cry?! Ugh. It began in class. Travelled with me on the subway. Took me over at work. Don’t even get me started on what the walls of my bedroom must have heard. Everywhere! I’m not talking a gentle Natalie Portman tear resting on a clear, lightly freckled cheek. I’m talking big fat tears, snot, saliva, and the fetal position. My face contorted to the likes of Munch’s infamous scream painting.
Not exactly how I pictured a wise old yogi sage spending his Friday nights. Not at all what I had expected. Mind blowing. At first I thought maybe I just really sucked at the whole yoga thing. Then I realized something really cool happened…
There was nothing blocking my breath (aka Prana) anymore. I could feel my breath from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Cleansing, clearing, and washing away all the hurt and “shut ups” that had been stuck in my body for years. Feelings and emotions that I had never had the courage to feel before appeared as if from nowhere! Joy, confidence, peace and a total lightness pervaded my existence. As cliché as it sounds, I felt very much alive. And it was pretty awesome.
Not only did Pat and Scott turbo charge my brain with extensive asana and pranayama knowledge, but they also gave me the space, compassion and strength to learn one of the most important lessons of my life: there is nothing more powerful than allowing yourself to be truly affected by things. Don’t hide your tender, precious heart. Don’t turn away from your anger. Don’t swallow your fear or belittle your pain. It is all worth it. It deserves to be mourned. It deserves to be known. You are worth it.
No longer be shh’d. Courageously shine your beautiful, authentic, weird and wacky light for everyone to see. You owe it to yourself. We owe it to each other. By opening our hearts up to another, by being authentic and real, we give each other the courage to walk in the light of our own true being. And I promise you, it rocks.
– Written by 200hr graduate Kate Vincent