Have you ever felt backed into a corner? Maybe you have come to a place in your professional career where you would like to move on but your family situation constricts you to stay where you are. Maybe you are in a relationship that has become toxic and both the ideas of leaving or moving towards health with the other person seems simply undoable.
These feelings come up for me a lot, and it is not always about big life decisions either. Sometimes if my husband asks me what I want for dinner, the world suddenly seems like an impossible universe to exist in and I begin to shut down. In professional situations, when a coworker or boss has asked for something as simple as an opinion of mine, I have watched myself become awkward and indecisive.
In my journey towards a connected and healthy mind, body and spirit, I have learned a lot about the ideas surrounding empowerment. I have been able to put words to the past experiences and wounds that have disempowered me but during the last class of G.R.A.C.E. Yoga, I felt like I was given a whole new set of tools to work with. I felt empowered.
During the practice, what resonated with me the most was the reminder that we get to choose how we respond to the voices in our head. Michael A. Singer, in his work The Untethered Soul, wrote “you are not the voice of your mind- you are the one who hears it.” I know this. I love this quote. However, like most people who have committed to a mindful journey towards health, I need reminders. I need new tools as the situations and relationships in my life grow and morph and change and become.
As we began practice, Betsy reminded us to notice what thoughts were circling in our minds. For me, it was a lot of worry-thoughts.
Did I remember to lock my car?!?
Are these pants flattering- ugh I need to be better about doing laundry so that I don’t have to wear these pants again!!!
What if I knock this water over and it gets on my neighbors mat- ugh I need to make sure I don’t do that!
As I was honest with myself and took note of my thoughts, I could recognize that these were worries that didn’t need my attention. Then, Betsy offered us ways to notice our thoughts. The response that really aligned with me the most was “thank you________”. She reminded us that we could thank the voice airing concern followed by whatever we want.
So, the mother in my head that really doesn’t want things in my car to be stolen is saying, make sure to keep the doors locked. And I can say back, thank you for that reminder, I am going to focus on my breath right now. Wow. No repressing, no dismissing, no stewing in anxiety, just- thank you.
Additionally, Betsy reminded us that an empowered decision is one that we make while taking the responsibility to live with the consequences of that decision. That means, I can say to the voice thank you, I am going to go check on my car right now, but then I also have to take responsibility for disrupting class. Since I did not want the responsibility of disturbing the class, I chose to focus on my breath and, instead, give grace to myself to check the car when class was over!
This all may seem minute and laborious to parse out thoughts and feelings in this way, but understanding empowerment at such a micro level, for me, really helps ease the tension I feel within myself for bigger decisions. These days, I feel as though I am emotionally satisfied. I am working on projects that are life-giving to me, I am invested in relationships that are healthy and moving towards wholeness. But, it is so easy to forget these conversations and dis-empower myself by simply letting whatever voice grab my attention and have the center stage of my thoughts. That being said, I found this class to be very fitting for anyone in their health journey and hope to take this class again in August!