My arms are crossed in front of me, straitjacket-style. I grasp the wrists of my chiropractor friend, H, as we position ourselves back-to-back, preparing for the second in a series of three adjustments. Slowly we each lean forward, away from each other, and the clatter of wooden blocks sounds out as my vertebrae align.
“That was easy!” he says. “You must really be ready to let go.”
You’re not kidding! I’ve been tossing stuff out of the plane for miles – a good five years, I’d say. Someone once told me we carry our fears, symbolically, around with us, so I break out my map-reading skills and turn to the topography of my corporeal landscape. While the runway has seen lift-off, there are still dammed up rivers, buckling frost heaves, and muscular peaks crying out to be climbed. Taking flight requires the lightest load possible, and I’ve already let go in substantial ways: Goodwill, my real estate agent and the zoo that houses former boyfriends have all benefited from my housecleaning efforts. Flying’s been a long time coming. My whole life has been rife with falling/flying dreams and now that I’m finally airborne, cutting cords and gaining altitude, clarity emerges like a 747 coming out of the clouds. But wouldn’t you know that the more I ditch, the more that pops up. It’s like I stashed multiple carry-ons under every single seat and now I’m on cleanup crew. Someone please deploy the slide and toss a couple of beers my way!
This unfettering process isn’t confined to bone-cracking, closet-purging or journaling; yoga has also been integral. Pranayamic breathing into joints and muscles bound tight like the foot of an 18th century Chinese woman highlights my avoidance tendencies and thankfully, their growing obsolescence. Headlining as Houdini in many relationships, I mastered the art of unshackling (not in a good way) but what I fled from usually switchbacked and burrowed deep into commissural crannies, latching on like a stubborn Lyme-ridden deer tick. In private session, I explain to my yoga instructor, Rachel, the quest to stop skipping over what I didn’t want to feel, and together we face the cave dwellers, those emotional Sleestacks hidden in my shoulders, hips, and spine. Plank to Baby Cobra is near impossible without my shoulders wincing, so I rush the pose with no precision or grace. Complete lack of presence. But I know it’s possible if only I stop dodging the strain and flow through each micro moment. It’s the anticipation of pain, more than the actual pain that freaks me out.
My nemesis, anger – always a knotty one to metabolize – has been most toxic in dark and forgotten corners of my body, sabotaging with putrid, silent stealth. Now that I’m hushing my mind, quieting my environment, and quelling stimuli, I see the wreckage and teach my inner fires to warm more and inflame less. Like receding winter snow, any sense of feeling wronged has nowhere left to cling and transforms the ground beneath. Now when ire spikes, I let it sting. Really feel the power surge, and breath. Then I investigate and almost always when another is involved, I imagine what it must be like on the other side and compassion instantly washes over me. It’s hard to stay angry at someone when you realize there is no ‘other.’ We’re all in this together, and besides, do any of us really know what the hell we’re doing anyway?
Which was easier? The letting go, of course. Yes, I know, it’s easier to do when you’re ready, it’s the getting ready that’s difficult. It’s taken me years. It’s been gradual, uncomfortable, and replete with pitfalls and backsliding, but I’m traveling atmospherically these days and I hunger to go higher and faster, still. So I’m dedicating this month to boot camp-level exorcism. I’m calling upon all therapies – Feng Shui-ing, digestive sand-blasting, African drumming, sitting at the altar of Ganesh, marathon-training. April is spring cleaning month and I’m giving myself a psychic colonic. Ready? Set. GO!