“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.