Have you ever considered where you hold your grief? The heart, obviously…our soul, most certainly, though it isn’t locate-able in our bodies. Our shoulders that are up around our ears. Hands that clench.
Our bodies hold our grief.
I ask because I’ve become more and more aware that I’m holding a major amount of my grief in my knees, of all places. It became noticeable to me in the last few months, whether I’m standing or sitting or prone. My knees are always tight with stress.
Recently, I looked at pictures of Chuck’s memorial service. I gave him full military honors, and that moment when the Honor Guard Captain was given the folded flag, and did an about face to march over to me, to present that flag….all I remember saying was Stand straighter. Stand straighter. Stand straighter. Somewhere in my mind, I suspect I’m still chanting that, resulting in my knees continually being locked unless I consciously relax them.
Yoga. My daughter teaches it and you’d think I’d take advantage of her practice and take classes from her continually. I don’t because I’m not really a yoga person but I know I need to be and she knows I need to do it too, so she got out her mats the other day for a daughter/mom yoga session.
She knew about my knees, she knows about my breathing (or lack thereof). She knows about all of my grief because we speak honestly to one another. So, yeah, I went through the beginning poses and it was okay, but then we got down to do floor poses and I could feel grief rising up in me, but I continued on for the full hour. The end of practice consisted of me laying on my back, eyes closed, in the so-called corpse pose. Total relaxation, right? At which point, my daughter, who brings her beautiful spirit to her practice, lowered the lights, turned the hypnotic music very low, came over to me and pressed gently on the tops of my feet. Pressed gently on my knees. Butterfly touches. Then came around behind my head, and pressed gently into my shoulders. I could feel it all rising in me, and I finally lost it when she cupped her hands under my neck, arching it very slightly, removing tension.
What did me in was her touch. I get lots of hugs as I travel, and I love every hug I get. But, and I know you’ll all understand when I say this, I don’t get touched any more. Chuck and I touched all the time; holding hands, hugging, sleeping entwined, my hand massaging his neck as he drove, his hand on my knee. We touched, touched, touched, for 24 years and then he died and touch disappeared. It’s a killer, the lack of touch, and so my daughter touching my feet and my knees and my shoulders and so gently under my neck…undid me, and I sobbed and my starvation rose up in me until it could no longer be restrained. It put me over the edge.
I don’t do yoga for a reason. And it’s because I know damned well that it opens me up. Yoga forces me into a place beyond survival. It takes me into the world where I used to dwell with Chuck; one of self-care, one of gentle-ness, one of relaxation and self-awareness.
My focus until now has been Warrior Training, which is basically a cross-fit program. It’s a good and healthy exercise program and I needed it to make me strong. I fully intend to return to it again because I do need to be physically strong. But after that yoga class I’m also aware that there is more to it than that. I have layers of grief deep down inside that haven’t yet seen the light of day, as impossible as that is for me to believe, and I must tend to those layers, find the soft edges and allow the tears to spill and flood through me, through conscious, slow, movement, becoming more in tune with my own body.
Grief. It’s an holistic experience that invades and influences every aspect of our bodies and souls and hearts and minds. It goes to our knees so that we can keep standing, it charges through our blood vessels and constricts our breathing. Our minds over think it and we get headaches, and even in sleep, our fists can be clenched tightly.
Two and a half years later, here I am. Taking as deep a breath as I can and committing myself to a practice that will take me more deeply into my body…so that I can move from.
Not willingly necessarily, but consciously….