Sunday, September 11, 2011

Meditating: On 9-11

Every year, on 9-11, I have strong emotions.  Every year, I try to work through them with my students in some sort of meaningful way.  This year has been the hardest because, while it should be more meaningful than ever on this 10th anniversary, my students are younger than ever.  They don't remember it.  They were in diapers.

Perhaps that's why I've been so sad and so tired these past few days? I'm internalizing the sadness and despair that I think everyone else should be feeling? I'm trying to figure out a way to help my students understand how this tragedy can still affect/connect to them even if they don't have personal memories of it?  (Which I tried my best to do-- check out my classroom blog to see what I mean)

Regardless-- I haven't been myself.  I've been sad and "meh" for no apparent reason.

Mary (aka super yoga instructor) at my studio must have read this in my and everyone else's faces (or maybe she was responding to her own feelings), but for the past three days of practice (including a double yesterday), she's been focusing on hip openers.  "We carry our stress in our shoulders, but we carry our emotion in our hips."  Wonderful-- me and hip openers are arch enemies.  My hips are tighter than tight, and with 10 practices in the past 7 days, multiply that exponentially.  At first I was just frustrated, which didn't help me fall into my poses.  Then I got angry-- why couldn't we just do regular yoga?

But, she was right. (She's always right when it comes to yoga)  In between my two practices yesterday, my emotions came pouring out.  A song came on in the lobby that had played at our wedding reception, and I started thinking back to that day and how happy I was to cut my cake and kiss my husband, and I just started crying.  Ridiculous, right? Those dang hip openers.

Happened again this morning.  This 30 day challenge has been working my motivation, determination, and physical well-being hard, and I was struggling through some basic poses this morning.  Mary came by, adjusted my arms, and said, "Smile-- it's only yoga."  Yup...there were those tears again.  Again, I blame it on the hip openers.

My point is this.  If we're dealing with emotions we can't explain, or if we're faced with a particularly emotional day and we're anxious about the emotions we might feel, why not aim your yoga practice in the direction of some hip openers?  Even when following the sequence of Baptiste, Mary was able to take each flow in the direction of the hips.  Challenge yourself to incorporate hip openers into your practice and release some of the emotions that might be bottled up.

We also did some breath meditating today (hence the post title).  Ojai breathing (deep breaths in through the nose, out through the nose) paired with meditation words or mantras.  After discussing some ancient traditions, yogic philosophy, and old testament scripture, all in the light of today's significance...I focused my meditation on the words "repair" and "love."  We were focusing on the idea of nonviolence, and I thought those two words spoke volumes to the emotions I was feeling on 9-11.

I inhaled the word "repair"-- inhaling my responsibility to repair all I could by educating others and not adding to the pain of the world around me.  I exhaled the word "love"-- acknowledging my responsibility to speak, act, and think with loving kindness.  For ten minutes, I sat quietly, breathed deeply, and set my intentions for the days ahead of me.

Whatever emotions you feel on 9-11, or any other day in your life that invokes similar emotional responses, how do you handle it? Do you acknowledge and experience those emotions? Or, do you try to hide them away, bury them inside, and move on?  Perhaps through your practice, a few hip openers...or through finding a quiet place to sit and can appreciate those emotions as part of the you that you are right now.


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