Homeward bound


“Every moment of our life is important.” —Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

by Jenny Hannah

Since beginning my studies in Psychology, I’ve been taking trips down the road of my childhood. I had always thought revisiting my past to be a waste of time, or somehow self-indulgent—like some masturbatory sense of neurosis. Interestingly, I realize my way of dismissing reality comes in the form of bypassing discomfort, which in this case, are my childhood memories. Just that word—-childhood—-like a knot in my stomach. I wanted to believe that my optimism and go-getter spirit would serve me til the end, but it looks like something is unraveling because I’m realizing it’s pretty “bound-up” up in here. Thus, the pose that beckons me is baddha tri-kon-asana (bound tri-angle-pose). The triangle to me, is the quality of time as past, future, and present.

During my current process of being in a psychology program as well as undergoing my personal  psychotherapy in Jungian analysis, I’ve been noticing more of my memories. I will open my refrigerator to find hummus to fill my belly (and my boredom),  and booom! Out of the blue I remember my mother telling me in her filipina voice “tssst…quiet! Queye—ettte you keeds!! You are making me mad!” I contemplate this memory with a light touch. I learned something from it. That moment in between the hummus and the filipina voice, right there in the door of the refrigerator, I realized that in my childhood I learned a habit— that being mad isn’t okay, and that I should try to avoid making other people mad, and definitely that this mad thing is a bad thing. Flash forward twenty five years later…I’m a yoga teacher. This is a role which is definitely out of bounds for aggression, as transcendence is the big ticket in my preconception of what a yoga teacher is.

Even my first seven years of my relationship was amazingly smooth, which is highly suspect. My poor husband never saw me angry, but instead, if my nerves ended up firing, I would just freeze— unwilling to get tangled in the heat of anger, and totally stuck between emotions that I wasn’t willing to explore. Since I’m a highly visual and image-loving person, I imagine my moments of stuckedness to be a long corridor of doors; each door is an entrance to an emotion, a room. There I was, pacing up and down the long narrow hall, whistling a familiar tune (fear) and telling myself I was “choosing” not to get “locked in” because emotions are oceans of suffering. Yet, the moment I began to gently put my ear to the door, to listen, to slowly turn the knob, and open the door to poke my head in— there was this great vastness. And to step inside and look behind me, there was no door, and there is no room. (Yes, meanwhile my patient husband is alone waiting for me to come back down from analogy land).

I can hear in the Shambhala chants “…knowing what to accept and what to reject.” This line makes me think of Shiva’s mudra in his form of the Nataraj. Maybe even acceptance and rejection can change, like Shiva’s fluid dance (afterall, he is expressing both mudras simultaneously). Maybe what I once rejected (exploring my childhood) served me in my life, because I regarded it as a straight up battleground of chaos and pain, yet now, I truly do have the choice to accept in order to move through. Sometimes, I have to get bound up, knotted, twisted, and explore what it feels like to breathe in that tight, claustrophobic, web of a place. As I accept my experience, I also reject facade.

Who on earth would choose to dwell in an uncomfortable yoga pose? Those who see that it’s not just about doing poses. As yogis, we embody the poses, just as the poses embody our psychic themes. They embrace eachother, and are bound to eachother in this life. The yogi joins them.

Working with memories has brought me vivid dreams when I sleep, and a more expansive view of my waking world. Bigger doesn’t always feel better, but it certainly feels, which I now see isn’t a weakness at all, but a very precious and delicate gift of being human.