Do You See What I See?
“Yoga allows you to find a new kind of freedom that you may not have known even existed.” BKS Iyengar
It was the coldest day of the year. Only hours earlier I was out in my garden preparing for the immanent storm. The smell in the air was pungent with pine and the sudden change in temperature was shocking for my insides. The bird’s chirps became more like forceful screams, and the strength of each gust of wind increased, picking up and swirling the fallen leaves around, foreshadowing what was to come. I began to feel overwhelmed by the suggested precautions we were to take. The fear the media was broadcasting was anxiety filled, as if we were preparing for war and not just a seasonal snowstorm.
If yoga has only taught me one thing, it would be how to manage being a highly sensitive person or “sensory-processing sensitive”. Highly sensitive people (HSP) make up about 20% of our population, and if you know anyone like this or perhaps you identify with triggers like loud or constant noises, subtle and pungent smells, or textures that can ignite instant heat, pain or irritation, you might consider yourself lucky! HSP’s are often intensely moved by music or visual art because they feel so deeply. They exude extreme empathy that often leads to becoming strong attractors for others. Yoga is a discipline you can trust and rely on to help you find balance between your sensory emotional state and your physical world.
I remember as a kid, how much I hated Halloween! I realize now, it wasn’t that I was spirit-less, it was the overstimulation and unruliness that penetrated every nerve ending I had. The intensity of the children around me and their chaotic energy, the freeness and ability to knock on strangers’ doors and shout, “trick-or-treat” felt more like shock treatment than fun to me. I would tremor with shyness, shaking under the ghost costume I made from an old sheet with cut out eyes. My friends lacked inhibitions, while I wished I could just wait under my mother’s fur coat in the front hall closet and secretly observe Halloween instead of partake.
As these hypersensitivities manifested and continued to knock on my door, I was searching for relief. With many tears I found myself on my mat in desperation for true happiness and liberation from always feeling so much. As HSP’s tend to experience emotions on extreme levels, I was no different resulting in irritable bowels, anxiety, and in severe cases, depression. I wondered why I just couldn’t remember, smell, taste, hear or recall happy, the same way my body would so ferociously find discomfort?
An aha-moment couldn’t have come at a better time on my yoga journey. It was when I truly learned how to link my breath to emotion that I finally found my truest, calmest, quietest, HSP self. It was my breath that could now talk to my quadriceps, whisper to my core to stabilize, call on my spine to rotate. It was my mind that cultivated the connection between breath and intellect that allowed me to isolate my body from emotion. This use of body-mind connection provides me with space in my own body. With this space, I am able to emotionally disconnect from media propaganda, overstimulation, and anxiety. With space I am no longer suffocated under a sheet pretending. With space, I am confident and secure. Yoga is my space.