I’m not really a subtle person when it comes to speaking my mind. In fact, I’ve been told on many occasions that I inherited my bluntness from my mother. It’s taken me years to find a way to finesse my words and still more often than not my foot ends up in my mouth.
When I’m teaching a yoga class those moments of bluntness make my students laugh but in my personal relationships it can be a sticking point. When I think I’m being tactful, it’s the opposite, major faceplant!
In spite of my inability to be subtle when speaking my mind, physically I’m the opposite. I’m super sensitive. It’s like the filter I don’t have when I speak fails me when I’m out interacting in the world.
Being super sensitive though is not the end of the world. In fact, when I sit down to do my yoga practice it’s a gift. I find it easy to settle in to a quiet space and sense the subtle changes in internal energy. It helps me to feel when I am either in or out of balance, so I can feel more focused throughout the day.
As a yoga teacher I love sharing with my students how to access the subtle body. We think of ourselves as our physical bodies but who we are is actually the subtlest of the subtlest.
Put simply if we can comprehend that a human body is made up of cells, which when observed in minute detail become invisible vibrating particles, it stands to reason that what appears as solid and real, might not be.
It’s what we can’t see, feel or even understand which is informing everything. Luckily the yoga tradition has specific Sanskrit words to describe the unseen. Words like Prana (life force) and Nadi (energy channel) to name two.
When we start to grasp the finer aspects of experience, i.e that we are made up of vibration and that energy is not confined to one body, one mind etc. there is a possibility for greater compassion and acceptance. And this where I segway into my life with diabetes.
The most challenging part of living with diabetes for me is its subtlety.
I cannot see the problem. i.e. it’s not a condition where I can look inside my pancreas locate those non-functioning beta-cells and restart the motor. Ironically someone asked me if there wasn’t some way I could do this just last week.
So being a subtle, invisible condition that I have actually no clue how to truly manage I have had to find ways to accept and be kind to myself. I find that simply sitting quietly before and after my physical postural practice is a great time to do this.
It might be just a few minutes where I recognise that the whole process of existence is out of my hands. Understanding that diabetes isn’t personal so why not let existence carry the burden? A few moments of stillness gives me an immense sense of freedom.
Another beautiful way to be self-compassionate is by practicing the “Inner Smile” meditation. This was shared with me by my teacher Alan Finger and sweetly offered recently on Facebook by one of his teachers in Perth, Tamara Graham .
I thought I would share her guidance here too as when we smile and laugh we drop all our stress and worry. I mean who do you have to be when you’re laughing?
To begin the practice…
“It starts with a smile. Just think of something that naturally brings your smile. Feel the smile’s sensations.
Resting your eyes, let them gently close.
Feel how when you smile it’s more than just your mouth. Feel how it feels on your face.
Experience the sensations of the smile on your lips and your tongue, in your jaw, in the roof of your mouth, your cheeks, cheekbones, temples, your eyes, around your eyes, your forehead. How does it feel in your skull, your temples?
And just like magic now, move the feeling of the smile into your throat and upper body. Let it sparkle down your neck, shoulders, arms, hands and fingers.
Feel the gentle smile spreading in your chest and upper back, down through your torso, your spine, into your abdomen and lower back, move the smile into your pelvis, your hips, your two legs, your two feet and all ten toes.
Smiling even deeper inside you, visualise the smile moving through your nostrils, down into your lungs and into your heart.
Feel the sensation of the smile into your oesophagus, belly laughing its way into your stomach, into your liver, to your navel and your small intestines. Move the smile around your belly so your large intestines are smiling, so your whole abdomen’s smiling, move the smile into your reproductive organs and into your pelvic floor.
As you breathe, feel the smile sliding through all your organs and all of your nerves into your skin. Feel your whole self-smiling. Everything smiling together.
Sense your skin from inside and as you notice there’s no sharp boundary between your skin and the air around you, feel the smile glowing through you and all around you, into an aura of joy.
Sit as long as you like in the radiant aura of the smile.” –Tamara Graham
With great respect…