Let Go or Be Dragged: What It Means to Be Strong


Beautiful humans! A shorter version of this ole article was just published on elephant journal! Check it out and share if you care! xoxo

Loves! It’s been a loooooooooong time since we ever chatted about the illness that started it all: the illness that threw me for a loop and forced me to change more than just a few things about what I ate, what I did every day, and what I thought.

I’ve been reflecting on it lately, mostly because I feel…well, great. And if anyone had told me one, two, or three years ago what my life would look like now, I would have had a hard time believing them because what my life looked like then was a hell of a lot different.

I was living a life in chronic, mysterious pain. Pain in my body, and pain in my heart. In hindsight, I can now see these two things were obviously related (in fact, they really are the same thing). But at the time, I refused to admit that I was hurting on any level that wasn’t physical. Sure, I was stressed and scared that no one seemed to know what was going on in my body, or how to fix it. But when people expressed their worry to me, or would tell me how terrible, tiny, or tired I looked, I would always say this:

Yeah, but I’m so strong. 

And then I’d usually follow that up with a handstand pushup or some other cool yoga trick I could pull off to prove my point in case there was any doubt.

It was so important for me to be strong during that time of illness. But the truth is, I had a really distorted view of what strength actually was. I thought that going to super balls-to-the-wall vinyasa classes or running 5 miles a day would prove that I was strong and undefeatable in the face of an illness that seemed to be going nowhere…but my body was wasting away. I thought I was doing “the right thing,” but I felt terrible. I wasn’t just running on empty, I was running on empty and there wasn’t any gas left on the Earth. I don’t know how I managed to get through that point. I wasn’t tricking my body into being healthy, I was getting in the way of its healing.

In short, I had a lot of letting go to do. I was very unwilling to admit at the time, even though it was very obvious, that I had a lot of blockages in my lower chakras: root, sacral, and solar plexus. All my symptoms (digestive, immune, and emotional) were stemming from the vice grip I had on these areas of my body. And while my study of yoga, energy, and TCM made me aware of this at the time, it was the scariest thing in the world to even think about working through those blocks to the point of actually letting go.

And then I developed a new motto: Let go or be dragged.

And that little phrase turned it around. The turnaround didn’t happen anywhere near overnight, but it did happen. Slowly but surely, as my body gave me stronger signals, I listened. I needed to slow down, heal my heart, and be okay with letting things the f*** go and I realized this:

Sooner or later you just have to let go. Because the load gets too heavy.

I was trying to build strength to carry a heavier load, when what I could have done was just let it all go. I went to extreme measures to avoid letting go; I got really, really, really sick. And I pushed way too hard without even realizing I was pushing. If I had carried on for much longer, I don’t know how much more my body would have tolerated. I consider myself extremely lucky that I had the tools available to me to heal when I was ready. I had my teachers and healers. I had my yoga practice (both vinyasa and Kundalini), my meditation, my acupuncture, and knowledge of Reiki and energy healing. And when I was ready to use these tools in the way that truly benefited me, I had to answer a lot of really confronting questions, like “does this chaturanga serve me?” or “do I need to take a handstand?” And God forbid, should I go to a Yin class instead of Forrest?

And while, at the time, I was terrified that somehow these choices would mean I was no longer strong, I knew my real strength was in the following:

My willingness to live through pain and my faith that one day I would heal.

I had to embrace the yogic principle of sthira sukham asanam, the quality of being strong and steady while also comfortable and at ease. I was still learning how to truly care for myself, but I truly wanted to heal. And even more than my own healing, I wanted to be able to use my experience as information to help others heal as well.

And in order to that, I had to get better. And in order to get better… I had to let go.

As a dear friend from teacher training told me recently, “It is no accident that you were healing as you were learning to teach.”

The illness, the healing, all that letting go….what brings them together is my ability to share my experiences with you.

So that you may heal.

So that you may let go.

So that you may love.

That is my wish for you.

{ sat nam + namaste }



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