The history of my life is recorded not only in my brain but in my body.
Reflecting on the increasing amount of body-awareness I’m developing from yoga along with the increasing understanding of my emotional past, I’ve realized that the semi-permanent tension in my upper back and neck (that affects things as far away as legs, one of which is just a few millimeters shorter than the other, and my left arm, which can’t arc back past my shoulder) is a physical “wall” designed to both to shield myself from the violence of the world and the world from the violence of my mind.
When I was younger, I used to imagine myself in a little walled cell. Far from feeling trapped, I felt protected by the walls. And when I really felt angry at people, I felt like these walls protected them from what I thought was my natural reaction: intense and potentially violent anger.
Little did I know that while I imagined that wall, a very real one was being built in my body, in effect cementing the dualism of my mind and my physical self. How has this separation manifested itself in my current life?
I tend to need the security of outside things: I like to have a set schedule at work, because I find it extremely stressful not to know when my days off will be. I don’t look for new work right now because I know I can count on my current job even if it’s not the ideal work for me.
I’ve often had difficulty paying attention to the details of everyday living: paying bills, keeping enough money in my pocket, getting the oil changed, etc. Over time, that’s improved, simply out of necessity. But I still don’t feel any urgency to these tasks, not in the same way I feel an urgency to follow this spiritual path.
Even in my path, I look toward tradition as an indicator of security upon which to build faith. Looking eastward gives me the roots of my faith, and I see in my interpretation the tendency to take it in my head and give it a different direction. Looking westward, to me, seems rootless. To abandon myself within the framework of New Age spirituality feels completely rootless and dangerous.
I’m beginning to wonder now what I would feel like if my torso wasn’t so constricted, if the muscles relaxed, if my spine returned to its proper state, and lightness, not tightness, filled my back and neck.