by Erica Viedma, Yoga with Erica
As a yoga teacher, I am aware of the delicate somatic connection between our physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions. In yoga we often instruct people to stay high and widen their chest, opening the heart area. We ask people to open up to areas that may have been monitored and held. Sometimes I have observed myself and others struggling with the emotions that this kind of movement can provoke.
With that in mind, I chose to study for a Mindful Based Stress Reduction certification with the Mindfulness Training Institute Australia and New Zealand. I want to learn more about creating security for myself and my students. I don’t just think of the adults who come into my classes with their tensions, traumas, and incalculable great life events. I’m also thinking about the kids my partner and I have been sitting with during our 6 years of teaching mindfulness in schools. Young children who endure the daily pressures of poverty, addiction, suicide, domestic violence, pandemics, sexual abuse, violent shootings, racism, school bullying, earthquakes and disease.
They are not stories of a distant country, they are the children who sit in our classes here in Ōtautahi.
Facing the reality that as human beings, we are all hurt in one way or another, has driven my desire to learn more about how we relate to our mind, body, and wairua. Below are my thoughts after completing the first mindfulness training module with MTI. It’s just a piece of wisdom that came up, with deep gratitude to my teachers and classmates.
As you read this, keep in mind that suffering comes in all shapes and sizes in our world. Sometimes I feel like dismissing my suffering because it seems less than the experiences of others, but there is no need to measure. We are all human and your suffering, no matter how big or small, is also worthy of care and attention.
Mindfulness learning for the wounded.
There are times in my life when I suffer. My body endures this suffering, not just the pain of today, but of my life so far and the lives of those around me. As a friend of mine and as a teacher, you sometimes respond to my emotional suffering by offering me your solutions. I see that your heart is in the right place, so please be sure to offer your kindness and knowledge of your practice. But understand this:
When I’m suffering, I don’t need your advice. What I need is help to find mine. Please don’t try to fix me because it just makes me feel less than; it makes me feel broken.
When you impose on me your model of care, your solutions, and your values, you assume that you and I are living the same life. Unless you come to sit in my kitchen and share kai with me, unless you walk in my shoes for more than a mile, then it’s not me and you’re not my savior. In the face of my emotional pain, it may make you feel better to offer me tips, techniques, and learnings that have worked for you in your life, culture, and whanau. But when it comes to how I feel, deep change can only come from the deepest part of me.
Instead of listening, sit with me, lend me your courage as I feel my pain, as I feel my way to my own joy, not your aspirations for me, but mine. You can value the feelings of peace and tranquility and wish them well, but you dare not shut me up. Allow me space to find stillness and stillness in my time. I will sit on the edges of the deep hole where I am, I will feel the hands of those who are willing to be with me in this hell, and we will hold on until the light comes.
In the meantime, I will not apologize for my cries disturbing your peace, for we all deserve our place in this world. I am human like you and remember that you are human like me, and one day you will cry from the bottom of your wounded soul, and I will hold your hand because I have also suffered. I will not pretend to understand your personal pain or offer you my solutions, because I have spent the dark night and I know that healing comes from within.
If you’re willing, I’ll bring a mirror for you, listen, and keep room for everything: the good, the bad, the embarrassing, and everything we prefer to hide. Together we will find this burst of hope that is buried. The strength of our union will kindle this embers in a flame large enough to find our own feet. Our tūrangawaewae: our place to be. You in your land, I in mine, but both firmly together in this land. The smile that comes when we look at each other will be one of sincere gratitude, gratitude and understanding.
So remember, please do not try to fix me with your solutions because you can learn as much from my inner wisdom as I can from yours.
We have always been one.
I write this for myself as well as for anyone else who needs it. During the years I was meditating struggling to feel loving kindness, thinking that this meditation meant moving away from the wounds that felt so deep that they would overwhelm me.
I write this to remind myself that loving kindness is not a specific way of feeling at the expense of everything else; loving goodness is the polar star by which to guide our practice.
I am writing this to remind me that our suffering has a powerful well of compassion, aroha and union. That my scars are a sign of my strength. That I have ancient and amazing survival mechanisms for their power and that they also belong to this heart of mine.
I write this to remind myself that sometimes the person I need to stop fixing and start making friends with is myself.
“When tears and mucus fall, death is avenged”
‘In mourning the death of a loved one, one would openly express the extreme sadness, loss, and despair that the grieving family felt. This whakataukī recognizes the healing that takes place when one is able to express these emotions without restrictions.‘
Font “It’s an inner disorder. A selection of Whakataukī related to Maori emotions”
L. Pihama, H. Greensill, H. Manuirirangi, and N.Simmonds (pp. 44-45)
If you have any ideas, questions, I will be happy to contact you email@example.com.
I also highly recommend “Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness” by David Treleaven. It explains in depth the ubiquity of trauma in our population. Her book explores the “risks and rewards of mindfulness in trauma” pg.xxiii https://davidtreleaven.com/
Erica Viedma is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher specializing in conscious movement. Erica has been teaching since 2004. Her classes were initially somatic and dance based and evolved into a practice of yoga and mindfulness. Erica graduated with a bachelor’s degree in performing arts and film with a specialization in dance with the status of a senior scholar. Some of her ongoing professional developments have included Mindful Schools, CAPPA doula training and regular yoga training. Erica is currently in teacher training at the Mindfulness Training Institute. His regular classes are held in Otautahi and online. They are a reflection of his ongoing yoga and mindfulness studies www.yogawitherica.nz.
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