Feeling Deeply & Letting Go – Guest Post by Diana Duane

** Enjoy this honest, real, raw guest post by BR 200-hr Teacher Training Graduate Diana Duane. Diana also subs at BR from time to time – like this incredible post, her classes are a gift. **

On feeling deeply, and letting go.

I have a wild imagination. I can make-believe like a boss. I have unbelievably vivid and exciting (and sometimes terrifying) dreams. I laugh and cry and love and grieve the hardest. I’ve come to love these qualities, to be myself, but it hasn’t been easy.

My whole life has been spent planting my feet and bracing myself, as if the sky would crush me flat if I wasn’t actively resisting it. To put it simply: I have always felt overwhelmed. What is the G-D meaning of it all?!?! Why is there pain, violence, and on the opposite side, beauty and happiness? How can I feel this much joy without exploding? How can I go on with this sadness?

As a small child, I would get lost for hours at a time, wandering the woods, listening to the wind through the trees. Observing, meditating, feeling. Feeling so much, taking it ALL in, and holding on to everything. The good and the bad. As time went by, so did a series of traumas and struggles. Everyone has their sh*t, right? Except I wasn’t letting it go. How could I? My traumas were mine, my experiences and feelings, who would I be without them? I’m a feeler!

It happened when I was in my late twenties, and had started to experience the symptoms of my autoimmune disease. One of my best friends had just died in a tragic accident. I felt like crap. There was an event that I “needed” to wear heels at, and I kept falling over, unable to orient myself or balance. I couldn’t breathe well, and was winded and injured after a flight of stairs. My shoulders ached from holding them up so high in defensiveness. I was in pain, and I didn’t like or want it anymore. I couldn’t keep holding on to everything! That was it, the catalyst I needed, the diving board. I got online and started to search for yoga videos on YouTube, somehow knowing that it was what I needed. Luckily, my yogi friends were helpful and supportive.

It didn’t happen overnight. It’s still happening. The first forward fold gave me vertigo so bad I ended up on the floor. The first downward facing dog had me sweating and in tears. A twisting lunge? Impossible.

But it wasn’t. A little practice at home and at the studio (okay, a few years), and things started to….. It’s hard to explain, things just didn’t affect me so much. The crap started to slough away. The anger started to dissolve, and I began to forgive (even now, my inner critic is rolling her eyes at that, I’ll have to meditate on it later).

All cliches aside, It’s amazing, and it works. I step onto my mat, and the overwhelming world blurs, becomes background. And opportunities begin to present themselves. Opportunities to be in my body, to be honest with myself. To breathe into whatever’s on my mind, and release it on the exhale. To be allowed to feel my huge spectrum of emotions but not to dwell on them.

There have been losses that I’ve experienced since I began this journey, and having yoga as a coping tool has saved my ass from the asylum, I’m sure! I have found myself sobbing in savasana, being held in a pose by someone, or just by their words, and feeling like I finally had permission to let something/someone go. Last fall, I found myself in Warrior 2 in a workshop, on a bad, bad day. I was a hot mess. But I got to my mat, and the kind, patient, lovely assistant to the teacher lightly touched the space between my shoulder blades and whispered “it’s not your responsibility”. Let me tell ya, I sobbed like a baby but I dropped those shoulders down and they’ve been looser ever since.

Letting go displays your wounds, makes you vulnerable. It’s not for sissies. To heal your heart, you must be incredibly strong, and you have to want it. To show yourself crying and hurt is much more difficult than showing a snarl and throwing a punch. But, damn. It’s so freaking cool to get rid of baggage, live in your body rather than trying to escape it all the time. To find new abilities, explore my balance, feel the ground beneath my feet or hands or back. To breathe deeply, truly, until you can take a real breath that isn’t followed by a choking sob. Believe me, it’s something I work on daily. This (true) story has taken some time to get together, because I still have to work on my fear of vulnerability. But I do the work, I speak with sometimes painful honesty, so I can live my life like I did as a small child. Observing and feeling the bittersweet beauty of it all, no longer overwhelmed, and able to breathe.