“Seeds of unhappiness, sources of fear, cause conflict and strife. Roast them with the flame of awareness and clearly hear, the inner essence of life” ~Nicolai Bachman
My friend Andy said to me one day, when I became emotional in the TRX class, “Bury your emotions deep with a shovel, and then bury the shovel.” Needless to say, my response to him was less yogic and more like a sailor. Unlike what Andy suggested that I do, I have decided that I didn’t want to be ignorant, or avidya, to my emotions. I wanted to create an acute sense of awareness as a better way to deal with my roller coaster of emotions rather than having a lack of understanding for why I was experiencing them. The roller coaster in the present moment is less dramatic than it once was and is more like a kiddy ride than the Wild Thing, that large roller coaster at Valley Fair.
The roller coaster of emotions that I ride today revert back to the last two years of avoidance and neglect based on assumptions that everything is okay. I find myself feeling a particular emotion and reflecting back to the experience that may have caused the initial negative response. Some of the emotions that arise are positive while some trigger a negative response. These negative responses are called kleshas, afflictions and mental factors that create states of mental torment both immediately and long term, and there are five of them.
I have been observing my reactions and exploring when and why they began. I ask myself: “Why am I afraid to be in the present moment? What am I afraid of, when so many doors of possibilities have opened up?” It sounds so easy right? The present moment should be home base for life. But is it?
Every emotion that I have creates an impression that I store either consciously or subconsciously. The more that the emotion reoccurs, the stronger the impression and my reaction. My mental baggage drives my roller coaster of emotions and results in a reaction that reinforces unhealthy behavior patterns. I have past emotions that I buried deep, and in order to eliminate these kleshas, I need to better understand where they stem from and how they were created. My past experiences with my ex-husband caused an obvious trigger for my previous negative patterns. I am working on finding the reasons for these repeating behavioral patterns and then a better more affective why to process them for my future relationships.
Monday was one of those days that I was able to truly experience my habitual patterns and process the link between the known and unknown. I was talking with a friend about how I want to make sure that what happened with my ex-husband doesn’t dictate my future relationships. I found myself that day having anxiety as I thought about the “what ifs” in my life. This brought me out of the present moment and worried me about the future. This started the roller coaster of emotions and spiraled into bits of panic. “Seriously, why now?” I asked myself as I walked my dog at the park by the yoga studio.
My mind flashed back to a beautiful sunny day back in October 2015. I was walking both of my furry children at the Anoka Community College ball fields and, like a hot flash, a wave of anxiety hit. And then another. And then another. I dropped to me knees. My heart was racing, my vision starting to go dark, and I thought to myself, “Am I having a heart-attack?”
Thankfully it wasn’t. I took deep labored breaths with my face in the green grass. I could hear my dogs whimpering at my side. This was not the first time in the last few months that they had seen me have a panic attack. I was able to use deep breaths to bring myself back to reality and slow my heart down. I cried, gathered myself back to my feet, and started walking again.
I again felt the waves of anxiety flow through me, the “what ifs” and the worry of the unknown racing in my mind. I send a text to my friend and told him I was having some intense anxiety. He asked why, and I explained that I felt anxiety about money, the divorce, the studio, and future relationships.
He replied, “Does your anxiety relate to your hopes?”
I had to think about it. It was not just the emotions that pulled me under but also the emotions that allowed me fly high. I was having anxiety because of the unknown and the lack of control over my situation. I asked myself why I needed to control it. I needed to be present to all emotions and fully experience each of them as they came to the surface. I only have control over my perception of the experience and my reaction to it, not the future stations that may or may not ever happen. Why would I allow the kleshas to run my life? My life has already taken a turn for the better. There are so many wonderful things that have gone on in the recent weeks, and I have found contentment in many aspects of my life.
Moving forward, I plan to focus my energy on practices that use svadhyaya, or self-observation, to create a positive change and surrender to faith, isvara-pranidhana, that life has a way of supporting my growth. I know that by essentially changing my patterns, I can stop the roller coaster of afflictions that bring me to my knees, gasping for breath. I have used my mediation practice to reduce my thoughts of negativity and continue to use my personal yoga and ayurvedic practice for discipline, depending on my friends for council and prayer so that my avidya does not control my future. I can continue to move on to freedom.