There is a reason to stop holding your breath

Posted by Kiran in , ,


So there is a delicious rhythm called ease, which some might even recognize as happiness, or joy. It feels very soft and spacious, yet somehow grounded. It’s the opposite rhythm of how most of us live: with effort.

And my goodness, there are a lot of teachers and coaches that go on and on and on about how to get it, get more of it, embody it, etc. However, if you have had a life of trauma, violence, chronic depression, repressed rage, and so on, you’re going to find it hard to really hold onto ease. You can put on a happy face—like literally ‘turn your frown upside-down’—but that emotional equilibrium doesn’t really stick. You have to put in a lot of effort to hold on to that ease.

And to further complicate matters, it’s really hard to trust that smile you’re forcing. If you have any kind of integrity, you’ll always be aware of what is under it. You can feel the struggle, the years and years of repression, compromised boundaries, and rage…

So then, when genuine moments of this ease show up, it becomes very hard to trust those moments. For most people with a challenging past, their system is constantly tracking for what might go wrong. Vigilance is running in the background for where it’s all going to fall apart. Traumatized humans live in a chronic brace against the unknown. It feels very perilous to relax into ease; it feels so undefended, so alarmingly open. It takes some real amount of courage to actually breathe and relax into the spacious softness.

However, life is a mirror. Everything in your life—like your body, your work, your friends and family—is all a mirror of your internal core beliefs, or what I call your core wiring. And if you are in a chronic cringe, bracing against the unknown, you get that reflected back to you in the mirror. You get a life filled with all kinds of instances where it suddenly falls apart and you need to cringe. If you chronically brace, you get all kinds of unexpected things thrown at you, you get “brace yourself” reflected back in the mirror.

Same goes for having years of repressed rage building up in your system. (Side note: Trauma and rage are deeply interwoven, and you don’t get one without the other. With trauma, you usually get a shockingly intense and quick-fire rage. Makes sense right? Your system is going to rage against the trauma.) So, let’s say this rage, which is totally justified and well-earned from what I can see, is building up in your system. If you keep focusing on the positive, and you keep putting on a smile, and you get that reflected back to you in the mirror called your life. You get a life of things that are compromised, and painful, but kinda seem nice if you just squint with a quick surface glance. Things seem to be okay, but if you scratch the surface you get chaos and instability. But if you keep a lid on it, keep busy and on the move, it all appears relatively fine. Like a vintage carnival ride, that looks rickety but if you don’t look too close, and ignore the cocaine smile on the attendant in charge of the ride, it might be fun. So you hold your breath, cross your fingers and hope for the best. And this is how most traumatized humans live. And this is the great majority of the worlds population.


However, if you manage to do the real work around healing, and manage to transform that repressed rage, you will get some genuine real moments of clear, open ease. That will start to get reflected back to you in the mirror of your life. These moments where, suddenly, everything works out. Where there is suddenly peace, and it feels so real, deeply peaceful for real. Life unfolds these crystallized moments of clear, open ease.  And your job is to relax into them so more peace can get reflected. But you will need some really ballsy courage to relax into it.  It’s going to take some courage to stop holding your breath, tracking for where the next crisis will come from.

And speaking from personal experience… that is not so easy to do.

Not easy at all.

So, to really inhabit the true ease that you may have legitimately put in the healing time for, you will have to find the big balls, or big ovaries, to now expand into the deep exhale unfolding.

I’m talking about this because every one of my students lives this. About 3-6 months in, everything in their life is different. And nobody ever tells you how much courage it takes to actually live the peace you earned. Ask the teachers, the ones that go on and on and on, they just give you inspirational sayings, very few words on the courage you will need to relax the internal brace and fall into the unknown as if it were a good buddy.

I think it helps to remember that life is a mirror, and if everything really is different you really have  transformed. Then those sweet spots of change will be spaces you genuinely can relax. And if you relax, life will mirror some more opportunities to relax.

It also helps to be aware of that vigilance chronic tracking. That is fear running in the background, not clarity. Fear is NOT clarity.

But even with these helpful markers, you are going to need your courage. It takes a whole lotta courage to stand inside the real moments of peace that will unfold. Courage to not disconnect, indulge habitual fear, hide, when your life has been hard, and suddenly, it is not.  It takes a lot of courage to heal, but it takes more again to land firmly in that peaceful place and hold ground.

So if you made it this far in the first place, you have the courage… and it’s an ongoing practice, but it’s really, really worth it!

Of course, if you need a hand, some support. Join us for class in January.



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