by Sonya Genel
If you are like most people then you don’t like to feel fear, anxiety, or sadness. But what if there is nothing wrong with having these feelings? What if these feelings are actually the keys to your most radical freedom and happiness? There is no way out, but there is a way through! It is a difficult way, but it is also indescribably beautiful, and well worth the walk.
There was a time in my life where I felt like a failure if I wasn’t happy, energetic, and productive constantly. I realize now that it is ridiculous to expect such an existence, and in fact, it would be boring even if it could be attained. The truth is we need our lows just as much as we need our highs. We need to contract before we expand. We need to die before we can be re-born. We need contrast and texture in our lives. It is the fertile ground from which our souls can blossom. And yet simply knowing the hidden value of difficult emotions is not enough. Many people, myself included, have struggled with the reality of actually encountering and transmuting them.
The practices of yoga have risen up to support me in the most difficult moments of my life. I am deeply grateful for the teachers and for the mysterious turns of fate which brought me to yoga. I am honored now to serve as a teacher and guide for others today. Yogic practices give us very real tools for navigating the inner landscape of our consciousness. This body and mind doesn’t come with a driver’s manual, and many of us get through life by coping, not by thriving. Yoga connects us to a greater sense of self, aligns us with our natural rhythms, and gives us the strength and courage to move through our most frightening inner shadows.
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
In the very center of our pain is the key to our liberation. If we listen carefully and patiently to our difficult emotions, we will recognize them as allies on the spiritual path.
The Wisdom Voice Inside:
Let’s take for example, the difficult emotion of anxiety. Who likes to feel anxiety?? Not me! But try this… think of anxiety as a crying baby, and approach it with patience and love, rather than shame or anger. Listen to it, and as the crying slows down, the anxiety reveals an important message. The first time I heard the wise voice of my anxiety was in meditation. Instead of running around trying to fix my external life in a hopeless effort to calm my fears, I finally just sat down and began to meditate. And then my anxiety said this to me: “the earth is calling you to come down”. My eyes popped open in astonishment. Who said that? The message rang clear and true like a voice from heaven. I went outside and laid belly down on the earth. I breathed in the smell of dirt and grass. I allowed my bones to be heavy. A flood of connection and relief washed over me. I could once again feel my place in the family of all things. I knew what i had to do, and my anxiety lifted with a gentle sweetness.
What I learned is how to move energy through my subtle and physical body. When all your energy is in your head, your mind and emotions spin to the point of exhaustion. This leads us to feeling scattered, disconnected, restless, tired… The sense of anxiety which occurs in this state, is actually your body calling you to come home. When you feel anxious it means you quite literally need to ground! Getting into your body by connecting with the breath is an easy and extremely powerful way to “come down to earth”. Slow mindful breath soothes the mind and allows the parasympathetic nervous system to turn on. It is in this space that all deep healing and restoration happen. But how would we ever enter this state if their was nothing calling us down?
Thank you, anxiety. I promise to always honor you and all my feelings.
Fear becomes an indispensable friend who tells us to pay attention. Sadness teaches us about compassion. Worry shows us where we are leaking energy. Envy reminds us to stop giving away our power. Depression may just be asking us to grieve or process and unfelt loss. There is great wisdom in your shadows. Yoga can help you uncover it.
This post originally appeared on Sonya Genel’s personal website.
Sonya Genel, ERYT500, joyfully embraces the power of yoga not only to heal and transform the body but also to heighten human consciousness and to create a radiant life. In her classes, Sonya weaves precise anatomical alignment with flowing movement. Always approaching her students with authenticity and humor. Sonya’s intention is to hold space for a direct embodied connection with Spirit. When she is not teaching yoga, Sonya can often be found drawing or painting. As an artist, she notices the profound effects yoga has on her creativity, and she has dedicated herself to enthusiastically guiding others toward enhancing their own unique life path through yoga.
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