Vulnerability is the state of being vulnerable or exposed. I ask you to sit back, delve into that feeling and your yoga practice. My first experience within an asana(pose) was like being naked, literally stripped of everything, there was no hiding anymore from what I was really feeling. I was not yet with a teacher to guide me during this overwhelming moment, so from that day forward – I skipped THAT pose in my practice…there was no way I was going there again – that shit was scary, raw, and unidentifiable.
What pose you ask? Savasana – the famous relaxation pose!
Yes, thee one pose that everyone loves and ultimately goes back to class for. Who doesn’t love to work hard and be told to relax for 5 amazing minutes, guided by your teacher inviting you to “let go”.
A few years later, still without a teacher beyond all my favorite master teachers via VHS – Guru Tej Khalsa, Patricia Walden and Rodney Yee, vulnerability creeped into my practice again. At that time my kids were 1 and 3, we had just settled into our new home at the beach, and I started a new job. Life looked grand in everyone’s eyes, although I felt as if I had been thrown into a tornado, absolute chaos. You see not soon after we got into this new life space, 3 immediate family members were diagnosed with breast cancer. My mom being one of them. All of them experiencing different stages of this beast called cancer and none of it felt better than the other; like stage 1 or even precancerous cells are supposed to feel better than stage 4.
It all sucks!
Then it happened, I found a lump.
It was surreal, almost like life was put in a slow frame by frame movie. The mammograms, the ultrasounds, the decisions, the praying, the list goes on and on for my family and myself. I needed my practice to ground me, allow me to feel sure about the safety of the kids and Danny, my amazing partner in this life. I am not scared of death; however, fear lies within the moments after I am gone. I rolled out my mat and just after a few rounds of moving breath with body within Surya Namaskar (sun salutation) that freaking vulnerability bullshit rose like a freight train…
nope not doing it, can’t do it, won’t do it.
And that was it, I rolled up my mat and my asana practice for several months. This train was like a stab in the heart, an ache that I wasn’t prepared to feel or “deal” with. I couldn’t, because I wasn’t ready.
To this day my kids ground me just seeing their big beautiful eyes. I needed to be strong for them and I knew my biggest fears, worries, and anxieties would be unleashed if I got on my mat. My yoga practice took on a different shape, walking by myself every day for an hour became my new space to ground. It wasn’t fast, but it was intentional, meditational, or contemplative in essence. As I walked my mind and heart were fed what they needed; breath, one foot in front of the other, ground beneath me, and the sun above me. It wasn’t like I was in the middle of the forest, sand beneath my toes, beautiful sunrise or sunset…it was me moving forward, one step in front of the other –
“I am good”.
This journey was excruciating, because after having that benign lump removed, thank God, another lump was discovered just a few months later, and then another…WTF, right?!
These lumps, a total of 3, made me face my impermanence even more. Made me dig a bit deeper asking who am I, why am I here, how do I want to be remembered. I was not done in this body and I was determined to move forward. You know that BIG coffee company? Well I worked for them for 10 years and they have incredible health insurance, so I did some digging. I was eligible for the BRAC gene test. If you recall 3 immediate family members were going through treatment for breast cancer at that time, so I was fortunately/unfortunately qualified to take the test.
For those of you who are unaware, the BRAC gene test will tell you if you are more likely to have breast or ovarian cancer. If I did have it – I was going to have a radical mastectomy, no questions asked – DONE. I have never had breasts, I have no attachment to them, and their purpose was served, so let’s move on.
This test should only take 2 weeks. Pretty simple, standard procedure you would think; blood drawn, sent to lab, test results sent to doctor, and doctor calls you with the results. Well, 3 tests later they finally get it right – seriously, how could they could f*ck it up, but they did. A 2-week process ended up being 6 turtle paced weeks – my patience was nonexistent, Danny was furious, and my amazing doctor stepped in to save the day.
I DO NOT have the BRAC gene! Thank you God. What I did discover was I am very sensitive to the food and beverages I take in which can cause me to be very dense and cystic. With that information, I can prevent unnecessary squishing, anxiety, and stress for myself and family. Remember mammograms are never comfortable for anyone. Try having only muscle and nipples, it hurts like a SOB.
Vulnerability is being exposed to what is going on within you.
Ladies and gentlemen, know your body, touch yourself often, and once you know – DO NOT IGNORE IT!
Our bodies are constantly giving us signals of when we are stressed, anxious, worried, not being heard, not being seen – that is a workshop in itself. I am not a pro at reading my own body, but I definitely have gotten better at it. When you are on your mat feeling vulnerable, allow yourself to FEEL IT!!!
I know this now and I allow myself to melt into my tears, smile in delight, and laugh as it rises. Give yourself permission to feel empowered, not any less. I know this body has an expiration, an impermanence. I know being a mother and a wife will not expire…my time, my purpose is to be vulnerable to everything happening around me is of importance.
This is a gift I can share with both my girls and my Danny. I want to feel the air, see the butterflies, hear my girl’s laughter, and share in love, community. I cannot do that if I am not living in truth from within. My family sees me cry, hears me swear like a truck driver (sorry, not sorry, mom), joins me in laughing until I have to run to the bathroom to pee, and even recognizes I need solitude to be steady, grounded to feel the sure and the unsure moments. Give yourself permission to be vulnerable on and off the mat, to live and love boldly for yourSELF and to serve those around you!
PS. Mom is good. I am good too!