Entry #2

Eliminate Stress

In the last blog I invited you to take a vow and go on a journey with me. I mentioned that this journey, starts with a breath. “Every new life starts with an in breath, as it’s an invitation to life to fill us.”

But what if we feel full already?  And empty at the same time?

Trying to have a baby can fill us with doubt, pain and sadness.  We have a reminder every month that we are falling short of our goal, and with it comes a whole slew of insults to ourselves because we have another failed cycle or the economy is not helping us plan for IVF and our clock is ticking, or we just plain feel overwhelmed with the choices or for some, the apparent lack of choices.  It’s hard to know how to start to manage our emotions when they pull us in so many directions at once. Not having what we desire can leave us feeling empty and filled with anxiety at the same time.

The only thing we can really manage is our reaction to what is happening.  The old adage, “stress is not what happens to you, it’s your reaction to what happening to you” is true.  What you need, is to be able to create some “breathing room” between what’s happening to you and YOU.

When I was a new Yoga student I would be in the middle of a really hard pose, sweating, in excruciating pain, my face would be contorted, my breath came in grunts and I was fighting what I was going through to the point that I was struggling.  The teacher would say ”if you resist what’s happening you are going to suffer, scrunching up your face is not going to make the pose any easier!  Breathe, watch, observe what’s happening and don’t attach to it.”  All of a sudden the concept of breathing became a lifeline between having the experience and watching the experience.  If I focused on my breath, the only moment that was real, that I had to deal with, was this moment, this breath.  And one breath at a time, 90 minutes would go by, my body would open, my mind would quiet and I would make it.  Was my body still filled with the discomfort of stretching beyond where I was comfortable? Yes.  Was I suffering anymore? No.

In Yoga we call this “equanimity.” It is the ability to experience something that is causing us a lot of discomfort physically, mentally and emotionally and not react to it.  Learning to breathe into what is happening to us releases the tension and stress of the experience.  Go ahead-give it a try!  The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll breathe a little deeper.

We talked about the word “equanimity” in the last blog.  Having the ability to not react to what is happening to us, but watch it. Having a little distance between what is happening to you and YOU is healthy.

When I was little and came home crying because life was unfair and things weren’t going my way, I remember my mother asking me to go to my room and get my Yo-Yo.   Not understanding why, but trusting my mother, I did.  She had me put it on my finger and asked me to make it go up and down.  She had me do this for a few minutes and then she said, “Brenda, life is like a Yo-Yo, it is constantly going up and down; one minute things will be going your way and the next they won’t.  The nature of life is ever changing.  Now, you can go on the ride like that Yo-Yo in your hand and be happy when things are going your way, and sad when they aren’t and be a victim to the ups and downs, OR you can be the finger holding the Yo-Yo and simply watch it go up and down because that’s what a Yo-Yo does.”  It was her way of teaching me about equanimity and accepting the ups and downs as part of the ever- changing nature of life.  The fertility journey is filled with ups and downs, its just part of the journey.

Start to notice when you are resisting this process, where you are adding your own judgment, feelings of anger or inadequacy to the information you are getting.   Notice where you are attaching to the outcome and allowing yourself to be devastated when it doesn’t work the way you think it should. See if you can take yourself off the Yo-Yo and become the finger, by watching the process without judgment.

Like my Yoga class where I stopped reacting to the discomfort of the pose and started to breathe into the discomfort and watch it, see if you can give yourself a little “breathing room” when you are stressed or overwhelmed.

When you feel out of control like the up and down Yo-Yo, close your eyes and watch your breath.  When you inhale, let yourself be filled from the bottom of your tailbone up to the top of your collarbones.  When you exhale, keep the space you created inside and just soften any tension in your body around this space, releasing your need to grip and hold yourself safe.  Allow yourself to breathe, and watch your breath, like the Yo-Yo going up and down inside your body.  Become the finger holding the string and notice how much more able you are to “be with” the changes inside and outside as you breathe.  This is the beginning of being able to manage life’s ups and downs and learn how to cultivate “equanimity.”

Next time, we will learn the ancient Yogic “Breath of Victory” or “Conquerors Breath” which will help empower you to manage your stress.