Ruby’s eyes were smiling as she watched me doing my yoga, on the mat beside her. Ruby became my dog companion 6 years ago. She was very traumatized her bodily reactions told me her story. Her eyes have softend and she is beginning to trust me and her own personal dogness. Ruby could feel that my dark night of the soul was passing.
I could feel my body again from the inside, as I moved and breathed into each yoga pose. I have a great teacher, Mike from Astanga yoga studio in Wellington. While I practice I hear his voice in my ear, “go soft.”
Go soft, such a different approach from the Western way. I began yoga to strengthen and stretch my body. My body was telling me about places that needed yoga. It was time. However, Western Society was telling me, “this is old age, get ready for a rest home” My answer to that is “I couldn’t eat the food in those places, I would get sick and die.”
I made a commitment 36 years ago to face my inner pain. It felt it an important reason for being here. I wanted to live with inner peace. It is a journey I am still on and no doubt will be when I embrace death.
2017 brought with it some deep change. I had a feeling this would happen after my travel to the Israel attending the Dead Sea Aikido seminar the year before. By the time October arrived in 2017 I thought I had made the changes. However, by then what is generally called depression was slowly creeping into my thinking. I recognized it when I had thoughts of “I don’t fit in this world .” For me in the past those thoughts, led to suicidal thinking or planning. This time, I was alert to them. My body was already slowing down. I had gone to my personal dark night of the soul.
This blog is my own personal experience and views from my own journey and many years of listening to others. I have different views on physical and mental health from the mainstream. For myself it is making sense of my reactions so I can grow.
When I began my search for meaning in 1981, there was not much around. I had worked in mental health and saw the effects of medications, isolation and shock treatment. However, even as a young 18 year old I could see the patients were rather like myself, human beings that had a story of sorrow. One of my addictions was caring for others because doing that eased my own pain.
I met Krisnamurti when I was 23 years old, attending his talks and I will never forget the feeling I got from him. When he held my hand, his eyes met mine and there was something very different about this man. I realized years later it was pure love. I believe that meeting kick started my journey. Ten years later in 1981 I began to read and over the years I have evolved into reading Pema Chodron, Thomas More, Eckhart Tolle, Gabor Mate, Dr Kaye Gersch and many others who have helped me make sense of my personal journey.
However, after 17 years of relative inner peace, I found myself back in the dark night of the soul. Although this time was different. When I couldn’t sleep one night, I was weeping. When I went to meditate I wept. I began to let myself weep without trying to work out why. Looking back that was good for me. My conditioning as Scottish, Shetland, Nordic was to be stoic. I grew up in the 50’s when everyone had deep sorrow and loss from the war. I had been trained well in pick yourself up, stop moaning and carry on.
2017 had serious events for me which began to stack up behind my daily practices. My meditation, Aikido, my healthy living. ( I was doing all the right things) However, I knew yoga was releasing deep grief in my bones. I could feel it changing me physically. My mantra is ; old dogs can learn new tricks.
I spent time with a dear friend today. We have different sorrow stories but one thing we have in common. We both understand the pain and the journey. She left me a book, Invisible Heroes- survivors of trauma and how they heal, a very good read. As Gabor Mate says, trauma leaves us disconnected and the healing is finding connection with our -selves and others.
My thoughts of not fitting in, were that disconnection. Many folk who have come to sit with me tell they felt that they never fitted in. I get that and today I feel why would I want to fit into the ‘norm.’ I often encourage others to be the beautiful self that they are.
For me I am a nature based human. I do not fit into a competitive, patriarchal society, even as a child I disliked sport. Chellis Clendinning wrote a book called “I am in Recovery from Western Civilization my copy is well thumbed, falling apart, with many words and sentences underlined. It was my friend for years. If there had been a 12 step group for that I would have joined.
My struggle was to find meaning, to find my place, to be the unique woman I am. I grew up when being defined as a female was very much restrained by patriarchal conventions. Even within music and the arts. I eventually found Joni Mitchell’s music while on my adventure to Los Angeles in 1974. In those days a woman traveling by herself was not common. Joni’s music warmed my heart and helped me feel connected in a way that some of the music produced by males of the time never did.
Sometimes people say “why is there so much depression and anxiety just now ?” My view is, that at last, we in the Western world are allowing feelings to be expressed.
When I was raising my babies I got told off for carrying them and demand feeding them. In a phycologists report, for the family court it stated, I was breast feeding overly long and creating unhealthy dependency with my children. Today it is called baby wearing or attachment parenting. People often refer to me as an old Hippy. Hippy-dom was the only group that didn’t think me strange when I was younger, although I didn’t fit there either.
This time I have not become stuck while I visited the dark night of my soul.
I can congratulate myself, all the facing my personal addictions and being with the pain/grief is my path. Aikido has taught me to go with my internal conflict. I understand what the founder Morihei Ueshiba means when he said; Aikido is victory over oneself.