By Amber Favaregh
Yoga saved me, but not in the way a white knight saves the day. It’s a bit more like how learning to swim saves you when you find yourself capsized in open water. In 2003, I found myself in a desperate and broken position following a violent rape. My PTSD from the attack was so severe I was unable to function well in everyday life. I was in constant fight or flight mode and my ability to calm myself down was impaired to a point that it substantially decreased my quality of life. Driving my car was difficult as fast-moving things just on the edge of my vision would cause very extreme physical reactions in my body.
Mindfulness and present moment awareness stepped on the scene by way of a counselor I was seeing. She guided me through meditations and at the most basic level she taught me how to always check in to see what was really happening in any given moment. This is the basis of mindfulness and yoga. I had a crash course in that present moment awareness just trying to make it through my everyday life.
Under extreme conditions I was forced to learn and relearn, a thousand times a day, just how important it is to know what is actually happening in a given moment. This was the beginning of yoga saving me. It’s not a white knight but a toolbox of skills that we must work hard to master and continually use in order to save ourselves. Like any master of difficult work, we must continually be working on how best to use those skills. We must trust that they are only as powerful as our willingness to use them.
When my husband died suddenly 10 years after the rape, I experienced the second major trauma of my life. At first, I was very angry and sad that I would have to do all this recovery work again. I doubted my ability to move through this without him. I was misunderstanding where the healing I had already seen had come from. It wasn’t from outside of me. I was my own white knight.
One of the powerful gifts of that loss was that I was able to clearly see how incredibly powerful it is to have a skill set for mindfulness. My journey hasn’t been easy. My mind roams to self-pity and victimhood often, like any other person, but I am able to more clearly see the options I have to choose another perspective.
When we can create the space required to see what is true here now, we almost always have the space to choose a better way of perceiving what is happening. As I miss my husband’s physical presence, I can make space for the tremendous gift it is to have known and been loved by him. To have so enjoyed our relationship that my heart does feel a profound sense of sadness and loss, but more than anything else my heart if full of gratitude and joy for what we had.
It’s my hope that anyone who reads this will understand that this applies to all of the difficult things that we go through as humans. Our journeys are all different and all equally as difficult. Never underestimate your difficulty or your ability to work through it. Remember that what is true here now, is the most powerful way to end your own suffering.
The fact is, so few moments in life have actual suffering involved. How we experience the moments that follow is up to us to choose.