An unbelievable thing happened to me that woke me up to the truth about healing. I broke my leg at Burning Man – in the middle of the desert, in a place I had been working hard to get back to for the past 365 days, and I was 3 hours from the nearest hospital. Breaking my leg meant that I had to leave Burning Man and there was potential to not be able to go back. Needless to say, I broke my leg at the worst possible time and I was ANGRY.
My truth is that the healing started even before I broke my leg.
As a student of yoga, I am constantly looking at myself and seeing where my limitations are physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually and attempting to overcome them. In the months leading up to BM, I actually had been working on the emotion of anger.
It is not about the anger itself as I believe all emotion is healthy and hold lessons within them, but what am I doing with the energy behind anger?
We have anger for all sorts of reasons, from being hard on ourselves and our pasts to global anger about the state of current affairs. What usually happens is that instead of using our emotions as tools and harness the energy, it accumulates as stress and can direct our world view towards more despairing and pessimistic.
What I had started to realize is that the only way I was going to harness this anger was by LOVING the challenge it was offering me. In the Yoga Sutras, Pantanjali explains that the result of practicing asana (yogic postures and seated meditation) is that opposites will cease to have an impact. I have sensed over the years how this has worked in my own life. I am no longer as deeply effected by either hot or cold temperatures. I no longer get stressed out when things don’t go my way (e.g. car repair, parking tickets, my iPhone glass breaks, etc.). I am rarely caught up in the “this is good, this is bad” judgement game. By now a lot of things in life that could be considered a curve ball no longer throw me from my center.
A common metaphor for yoga is it’s like peeling back the layers of an onion. There is nothing easy about introspection and transformation. In the onion each layer is very similar to the layer around it, just slightly more condensed and potent. As I continue to study myself (svadyaya), I realize that a lot of the conditions I am attempting to untie myself from have a much stronger hold on me than I thought. You remove a layer (i.e. how I react to things that make me angry) thinking it is gone for good and then years later it shows up again simply with a different outfit on.
After years of practicing the art of transformation, the component that seems the hardest to me is what Patanjali describes as “Sukha”. We define it as ease, comfort, good space. As I get older, what it has come to mean besides being spacious in my asana practice, as well as easy and softer on myself without judgment, is to love all of myself. and to surrender. Was it not grace itself that granted me this opportunity to heal more than just a broken leg?
Yoga invites us to see the challenges and the easy times the same way. It gives us an opportunity to learn, to grow, and ultimately see the beauty in the play between the light times and the dark times. With the latest layer I was peeling back, I was MISSING THE BEAUTY.
You can recognizes beauty with the feeling of love and grace. Beauty – that magic and effortlessness – is everywhere even in the challenges.
Something shifted in me drastically when I broke my leg.This journey showed me what needed to be done to heal my relationship to anger – it taught me to see the beauty.
The thing is we don’t just change, heal, forgive, detach, and so on. We only create the right conditions so that they can happen. Creating those right conditions is the journey. Yoga, let alone life, has never been about the Goal. It is always about being present, alive, awake, in love with, and surrendering to each moment. The Journey is the goal. We always have the choice – either resist the challenge or see it immediately as another path to greater awareness and understanding.
I made the choice to return to Burning Man, back to unfamiliar surroundings, in conditions that invited me to sit with myself for hours on end and open up to the Grace of healing. I awoke to the understanding that if I am going to heal my leg, I must create the right conditions- I must be present, be soft, be in love and surrender – I must see the beauty in the journey.
If I am going to harness my anger, I must create the right conditions – I must first honor it, accept it, love it, surrender to my humanity by being Present, Soft, and Loving with myself and trust that the journey is always beautiful.
About the Author: Brenna Geehan
Brenna began her journey with Yoga, Tantra, and Ayurveda in 1998. Originally from New York, then Chicago and now San Francisco, Brenna Geehan, ERYT, is a Level II Certified ParaYoga® Instructor. She currently assists Yogarupa Rod Stryker in ParaYoga® teacher trainings and travels nationally offering Yoga seminars. She has over 700 hrs of training and over 7 years of full time teaching. Over the past 10 years, Brenna has had the great fortune of learning from other master teachers including Pandit Rajmani Tigunait , Yogiraj Alan Finger, David Life, Shiva Rea, Doug Keller, Beryl Bender Birch, Tias Little, Ana Forrest, Tim Miller, Gary Kraftsow, Andrey Lappa, Gabriel Halpern, and Judith Lasater.
Brenna believes that we all have the right and capacity to realize a life brimming with joy, meaning and purpose. In her classes, she offers a Tantric- Vinyasa practice that encourages an “inner listening”. Her mission is to help transform students’ bodies to be stronger and more flexible and also aid in removing mental and emotional obstructions so they may have a more balanced and healthy energy flow. Her classes include pranayama and meditation practices that encourage students to find clarity of mind and peaceful dispositions. View her full class schedule at Yoga Tree here.