On being in the waves

Waves. They are part of the cycles of life. Water, sound, light, energy. There are swells, crests and dissolutions, chaos, troughs and stillness in every aspect of our lives.  And it seems that different people fear and embrace different parts of the wave cycle. It is stillness that scares the crap out of me. Historically, I have feared that stillness is a step toward stagnation. Stagnation leads to suffocation. And that slope (which I have always thought of as very slippery) sends me into flight mode so easily.

Growing up, I had a strong sense that things did not change, that I was destined for a life of stagnation. I was scared of not having experiences, of not being different from the young girl I was then. I feared missing out on some unknown that I knew, but didn’t know, existed somewhere in the world. I was scared to death of suffocating in something that never changed.

I rebelled in many typical teenager ways. I resisted routines. I swore I’d never repeat anything that I grew up with. I hated anything that seemed remotely still or felt stagnant. I solicited chaos, just to be sure that things would not settle. I always worked more than one job. I kept busy. Too busy. Because to settle was the first step to suffocation.

As anyone with migraine knows, having a routine is important. Establishing and documenting patterns is important in becoming healthy, and being consistent is a key ingredient to management. And sure enough, my migraines were part of my chaos. I have tried hundreds of remedies over the years, documented off and on (more off) my migraine cycle, but my resistance to being still remained a constant. At my most chaotic periods in life, it is no surprise that my migraines were at their most crushing and painful. Certainly, they were like waves, crushing my head, my energy, and sometimes my life. Over the years I used many things to live through that chaos of crushing waves in of head and body, but mostly I used pain killers. My body used depression, and anxiety to help me weather it. Not at all reasonable or healthy choices,  but my fear of stillness was still deeper than my fear of ill-health. So I kept on.

Then our family home burned. I left my job (where I overworked in too much chaos). I took care of my husband and son, and the re-building of our home. And during that time, I sat with stillness. The house sat empty for more than a month, burned. Pieces of the roof flapped in the winter winds and bits of the house blew across the open space. It simply sat there while the insurance company went through its process. In that chaos of a house-fire, there was stillness. And it was heartbreaking, don’t get me wrong. It was gut wrenching to experience our charred home and belongings. But I sat, and waited. And processed with my family the change that was before us. And for the first time in my life (I’m pretty sure) I  did nothing. I hugged my kid. I cried with my husband.

Those six months, while we rebuilt our home, were not stagnate. But I was at a stand still. And that stillness, while scary as hell, did not make me stagnate. It did not suffocate me. It did not make me less of a person. And that is how I became acquainted with stillness.

On my yoga mat, I still try to cultivate that feeling in me, that stillness even in discomfort. To settle deep into a pose that is not so comfortable and find a place of peace with it. Because yoga is the waves. It is the highs, lows, crests and dissolution. It is the momentum building anticipation, and the resting on the other side. It is the discomfort and the comfort. And it has helped me to remember the necessity of all the bits of the waves, and even go deeper, to where the swells are bigger and clearer because the water is deeper and bluer.

And yoga has encouraged me to seek a truce with myself and my migraine. To go deeper with myself and understand the more subtle energies that affect my neurology, and give them space to be within me. It has encouraged me to have faith in all parts of the waves and experiment with settling into those parts too find out if they support my health. I continue to learn that I have some interaction with the frequency of waves depending on how deep or shallow I choose to be in my life. And that really changes everything.

Ups and downs happen. There is no changing that. But how and where I interact with those waves is a choice I can make. I can also accept and embrace the waves as they are, knowing that it is the routine of life. Downs are part of ups, and crests are part of dissolution. Frequency changes with depth. Mostly. The swells, the crests, the chaos, the troughs and the journey between them all begets fullness. And to fear or deny yourself any part of the wave is to deny the entire experience of being.

Without contraries there is no progression. — William Blake, Marriage of Heaven and Hell


One comment

  1. I write a migraine blog too! I can’t wait to read more about mindfulness and yoga with dealing with chronic migraines. I look forward to more!!

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