Room to Breathe

On this day, the Bell Let’s Talk day for mental health, I encourage you to do 2 things:

1. Nourish yourself

Even if that means all you can do today is take a bath or a shower and get dressed. Do that. And know that it is enough. I never expected to spend a good deal of my life managing physical pain. It does things to my mental health. The gift is that it has also taught me what is enough. And sometimes getting myself a nutritious meal or a hot shower is enough.

2. Seek support

Whether it’s tea with a close friend or 3 months with a therapist, find someone to support you. It might be something… nature, music, yoga, art, writing, gardening, cooking, uplifting movies. When something works for you, write it down and tape it to your wall, so that the next time life feels heavy, you remember that there is support.

Mental health is not a one-time fix. Mental health is something we cultivate over a lifetime. Like physical, emotional and spiritual health, we need to tend it well and often.

“What school didn’t teach me, what the workplace couldn’t offer me, was what my heart was trying to reveal: I was out of sync, and the way to harmonize was to stop. Stop moving. Stop busying my brain and my life. Stop preoccupying myself with what I thought would be the answer. Stop, and drop everything I was holding onto. Drop it all like the weight and burden it was. Some of it so old, I could hardly believe I had carried it all that way. No wonder my spine had crumbled under the weight.

Put it down. With every exhale, I let go: the busyness, the importance, the pain, the doubt, the victim, the healer, the guilt, the shame, the blame, the security blanket of approval. The emotional dam finally burst and tears flowed with the exhales, pooling on my mat. Some breaths, broken up by sobs, revealed details of the load: my immense expectations of myself and my life.

I needed to be the source of love and value in my life. No man, client, child, certification, achievement, or career could give me what I needed. I needed to forgive myself. Full stop.

Other breaths brought overwhelming relief and release from years of emotional debris. I tried not to grasp at details or force a revisiting of the stories. The flood gates were open wide and I let the water run fast and full. I continued in that way for the duration of my asana practice. My breath flowed, my emotions flowed, my tears flowed and my life began, once again, to flow.” ~ Excerpted from An Accidental Awakening: It’s not about yoga; It’s about family

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