I've lived with chronic pain since the age of 14.
At first it was my knees, thought to be growing pains.
At age 17 it was my shoulder, thought to be from baseball. At age 22 came my wrists, thought to be from long hours at the computer.
At age 24 my lower back joined in the fun, thought to be from stress.
By age 28, my shoulder always hurt, my wrists and fingertips would go cold and numb for weeks at a time and I was essentially bedridden with back spasms every couple of months.
What I was doing clearly wasn't working. I had to change urgently...
I've dabbled in yoga since 2004 (with Gaim home DVD's!), but it wasn't until 2009 that I committed myself to a daily practice. WAY too inflexible and ashamed to go to a yoga class, I did a home practice aided by Rodney Ye's book.
By 2011 I was doing Ashtanga yoga six days a week at home aided by David Swenson's book. Still unable to touch my toes (let alone engage "bandas"), I had no business doing such a rigorous practice. It goes without saying, I injured myself a ton (literally everywhere!).
In 2013 after an MRI revealed three slipped disks, I toned things down by doing led yoga at the gym to build flexibility, strength and confidence.
In 2015 I started doing hot yoga (including Bikram). In many ways, this was the miracle practice I'd been searching for, helping me to greatly reduce pain and increase concentration.
In 2020 I was finally strong and flexible enough to rekindle my Ashtanga romance, which I balance with Bikram and a weekly vinyasa class.
I've been blessed with an incredibly strong will. From a very early age, it's been aimed at the ever-illusive promise of a "better" tomorrow.
The Genie (my will) has granted me everything I've truly wanted. I attended the college of my dreams, landed a job at a prestigious accounting firm, lived abroad in London for five years and in Manhattan for two more, travelled the world with a glamorous advertising firm, rose up the ranks to financial success, bought a house and started an amazing family.
Yet, no matter how "big" my life became, the way I felt about it never changed. In my undisciplined pursuit of more, I was too enmeshed in my endless desires to see that little of real substance had changed. As they say, "No matter where you go, there you are."
By lucky chance, I came upon Joe Dispenza's self-inquiry / meditation program outlined his book Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself. By book's end, I'd been ejected from the wheel to nowhere and propelled into the unknown toward a life I actually enjoyed living.
My first exposure to yoga philosophy came in 2009 with Donna Farhi and BKS Iyengar's amazing books. The philosophy went in one ear and out the other. I liked doing yoga asana for my back, but had no interest in the other seven limbs. I mean, what's the point of entering "samadhi" (yogic bliss) if you have to reduce youself to zero to get there?
Following the Joe Dispenza experience a decade later, I was finally open to explore the inner (spiritual) dimension as long as it was stripped of religious dogma. It was around this time I discovered the Self Realization Fellowship lessons which are filled with wisdom and practical guidance on deepening all eight limbs of my yoga practice.
I like to supplement with daily introspection (I use these: AM Pages, 5 min) and breath-work (I use these: subscription, free weekly zoom). I find both to be extraordinary tools in unlocking my creativity.
All this work has delivered me to the biggest test yet. I know what I must do, but find it excruciatingly difficult to do so.
Can I completely surrender to the flow of life without trying to control it?
I am certain true freedom lies here, in the place where judgement, desire and fear are no longer allowed to wreak havoc in my subconscious and drive my compulsive thoughts and actions.
I look for myself in what I'm judging, I separate myself from the numb of desire with fasting and habit management and free myself from the grip of fear by pulling it up from the depths and looking at it. I know I will not be completely free until I leave them nothing left to hang onto by becoming a nobody.