Yesterday I watched Bridget Jones’ Diary, which I haven’t seen since it came out years ago. I was impressed yet again with Renee Zellweger’s acting–realizing the depth of her comedic genius in her ability to make us laugh and also make us care so deeply about her character. But what I was left thinking about was the scene in the publishing house when Renee’s Bridget stands up to ex-boyfriend character played by Hugh Grant and quits her job to move on to something better, moments after he breaks up with her by telling her she was just a space filler in his life and he is engaged to another woman…just days after she said “I love you” and he said she was useless at her job as well. Hugh Grant begs and pleads for Renee to stay–but just when her resolve is weakening her elder colleague Petunia stands up behind her and says that Renee must quit…or Petunia will fire her herself.
I thought of the courage of Renee’s character to leave a situation where she was being played by someone who does not value her in a job that does not value her, a situation that was toxic and negative and only going to get worse. Thinking of the love Petunia showed in standing up for Renee’s character and supporting her in making the right choice when Renee’s character begins to be swayed by the noise of Grant’s words. Thinking how we all need a Petunia to stand behind us and strengthen our backbone–to tell us yes we are making the right decision when those around us try to tear down our resolve and get us to act in their best interests, which are usually directly contradictory to our own best interests. Thinking how, for those of us who are not lucky to have the wise voices of elders who have lived through this to support and advise us, how do we create our own Petunia and hold her close to stiffen our resolve–to support us in these situations and help us to do what we know we must do?
the difference between fear, caution, and awareness…why this matters.
You can live the amazing life you have always wanted.
the importance of the act of acknowledgement, of articulation. admitting when one has fallen short…
the importance of compassion, kindness, forgiveness…
what is the relationship to boundaries and limits, the learning from past mistakes to not repeat them, to not allow the energies and situations that are toxic or destructive to return, even when one has forgiven, one is wanting to show compassion, kindness…
the necessity to protect self. the desire to be open, give. the attainment of the balance.
What is the prize?
What is your focus, why, what that means….how everything else must shift then, in accordance. The nature of energy and balance.
Last year, around this time, I was hit and dragged by a taxi in New York City a couple of blocks, and spent most of 2011 in hospitals and recovering. At the time, I felt the right side of my body–from hip to through back, should neck, face–twist and collapse, compress and tense and spasm.
I used to do vinyasa and more athletic styles of yoga, but only recently have I begun to move from physical therapy to viniyoga, as I recover. Slowly, I begin to feel parts of my body wake, begin to move into alignment, begin to balance and heal.
Today’s class made me think about my neck, about the release of pressure when lowering chin and realizing the release along that line of taxi hit-and-drag injury…how any anxiety or fear now seems directed along that line, the most recent and severe example in my life of fear and anxiety…how, in yoga class today, when feeling a very toxic and dangerous energy rise up within the man practicing to the right beside me…being present next to that, his heavy pulling energy, pulling me, pulling my spirit, to align with his destruction…feeling the right side of my body begin to turn inward, twisting along that line, recoiling from the dangerous energy in instinct, to protect…my whole being very aware of the twisting and pain along that side of injury…how for so long this is why I resisted practicing yoga in class setting even though I knew I needed to learn more: the danger of toxic energies, the necessity to protect and defend myself from that.
Thoughts moving to where that tension first became present in my life, when young and a girl becoming a woman, unused to the new watching and desiring eyes of men…the fear of being seen…because when I am seen people have always had very strong reactions to me and the energy of others is often very strong and toxic…how part of my nature is to feel, intensely, to retain constant presence and access to close connection to feeling and sensing…to care for others, to love, to discern, to create….
But then what to do with the press of this feeling of the weight of others…when benign or helpful I am alright but toxic energy is more damaging for me than most…meditating on how you don’t have to hold this energy from others, how to create a shield from toxic energy…the necessity to protect and defend yourself…where this need comes from…but what to do when you can’t?
How do you protect and defend yourself?
“Open your eyes,” she says to me, all through class today. “Open your eyes.”
I like this teacher’s energy because she is strong. There are two older female teachers–one flowing soft in female femininity, one confident in female strength. I alternate, depending upon which energy I feel the need to be apprehending, which one I feel the need to draw around me or draw into my life at that moment.
These teachers are both a generation or a generation and a half ahead of me, which I appreciate. There is a different energy from women my age–still peers, concerned with competition and striving of the 20 and 30 something life that women double my age do not have; there is a settledness, a knowing, a wisdom. I feel comfortable that I can trust in these older women, in what they have learned….they are past any point where ego or self-interest of competitition in similar worlds seem to matter. But not having had a mother, it took me several years of after yoga practice to discern this, feel the understanding echo outwards, into my life.
This teacher, alive in female confidence and strength, is saying to me again: “Open your eyes. Open your eyes.”
And I realize that I have spent the first seven years of my yoga practice doing yoga with my eyes closed.
I have been looking inward, needing to get to know and understand myself, say hello. You are okay. I love you just the way you are. I understand why now, becuase of how I was raised–in a very strict repressed African culture where communication, like Asian cultures, is non-verbal and very indirect…raised by genocide survivors fleeing Idi Amin’s holocaust, refugees wrapped so deep in fear and Post Traumatic Shock that feeling was frozen to survive….feeling which further shut down as this legacy and the pressure of survival in an alien land broke my parent’s marriage into abuse and violence until, in the wake of their divorce, my aunt–my true mother figure–was forced to leave…feeling which shut down still further after unknowingly allowing the dynamics of abuse within my parent’s house to be recreated in the relationship with my first boyfriend–so terrifying he was, that was…feeling which shut down as I was unable to break up with him, unable to end the cycle of violence and abuse.
I was numb. I was ice. I could not feel.
Only each day, instinct, intuition, as I did my yoga practice, eyes closed to see deep inside to feel and understand…marking afterwards on paper did I begin to understand life, love; myself. And be.
I had to do this then. But do I have to do this now?
This is what I am thinking as she says to me: “Open your eyes.”
And when I do open my eyes, I realize that the alignment of my eyes change, my mouth. I see clearly, eyes wide and undistorted in squinting. My mouth opens to want to speak, to say. And my arm and shoulder, compressed since being dragged down the street by a taxi exactly a year ago to this day, begin to open slightly. I feel a tingling down my shoulder, through my right arm and fingers, a desire to write.
I find myself thinking about where am I going.
I must be open, to seeing it. To know. To see what is in front of my face….the outside world, in its truth…able to see through the illusions becuase of this long time of looking inward, to know self and discern. The neccesity to be unafraid.
Open your eyes. And see.