Last week on the first really sunny day we’ve had for what felt like a very long time I sat outside enjoying the sound of birdsong and the neighbours busy in their garden. I had taken several photos of blossom and spring buds when I had been walking my dog, Rolo, and I felt prompted to consider the following questions?
- What in me is ready to come out of hibernation?
- What is blossoming in my life?
- Which parts are still tightly furled, saying “too soon?”
These questions are good ones to ask at any point, but felt particularly timely ones for me. I have been back at home now for just over two months after my wonderful break in New Zealand. Life moves on and I have been exploring how to reintegrate myself into life more fully, while still being mindful of the self care and pacing necessary to avoid the boom and bust nature of ME/CFS.
What in me is ready to come out of hibernation?
The first question felt relatively easy for me to answer. I stopped all yoga teaching in May 2016 and was very clear that this was the right decision for me to take. Not only did I not have the physical energy to run classes, but I also felt a real need to withdraw, to draw inwards – to literally hibernate – spending time in a dormant state. Over the past few weeks as the sap has been beginning to rise in nature around me, I have found myself beginnning to explore ideas about how I could come out of this state of hibernation myself and find new ways of coming back to my role as a yoga teacher.
Any illness or life event which like ME/CFS forces us to stop what we’ve been doing in our lives and to reflect deeply can also bring with it what are sometimes referred to as ‘dark gifts’ . I see these as byproducts of the situation or illness that could bring about positive changes. For me these include a radical reevaluation of many different aspects of my life to see how I can simplify, conserve my energy, or make my way of living more nurturing. But in addition, I believe that my experiences of the discomfort, frustration, bone-aching weariness and loneliness that is the nature of CFS has given me some immensely valuable material that I could usefully bring to a new way of teaching.
So – for the first time in many months it feels as if the teacher part of me is ready to begin to come out of hibernation. Following the example of nature I will be taking it very slowly – the seed of the idea has been germinated and over the coming months I will be preparing myself to slowly emerge and blossom into my new way of teaching. My vision is to teach small group and individual sessions from my beautiful home studio, specialising in gentle, relaxing and restorative yoga for those who are exhausted, burnt out, or simply in need of stopping the world for a while. Keeping it small I’ll be able to keep my own work & life in much better balance, but I will also be able to create the kind of sanctuary that I believe will encourage deep rest and renewal for my students.
What is blossoming in my life?
A great deal has been blossoming in my life recently. Returning to England feeling well rested and content after my trip to New Zealand has ensured that I have, for the most part, been in a good place. I have been able to reconnect on a one to one basis with much-loved friends, enjoying their company and listening to their wisdom. I have begun a slow process of reclaiming my home and garden. Years of feeling tired and overwhelmed with life has meant that there has been a build of up ‘stuff’; but last month we cleared, redecorated and reclaimed the first (of many!) rooms and I am getting huge pleasure of sitting in my new, calm, ordered and beautiful dining room. So some new additions of calm and order have been blossoming. Storm Doris took a rather more dramatic approach in the garden, blowing over trees and fences, literally clearing away the dead wood – but I do believe it’s all part of the cleansing process and making way for new things and new ways of being.
Which parts are still tightly furled, saying “too soon?”
Despite all the areas of growth and blossoming, there are still some aspects of my life that are saying firmly “too soon!”. One of the most marked and difficult areas for me is that of socialising. Those who have been in my life for many years will know that I’m someone who has always thrived on playing to an audience. I’ve always been somebody to talks rather too much with perhaps a bit too much animation. And the difficulty is that old habits die hard. These familiar ways of behaving and interacting with others are easy to slip into – but I don’t have the energy to sustain them. Unfortunately, instead of venturing out and sitting quietly, I have found that simply being with a group of people seems to encourage my body to release adrenaline and I can find myself becoming highly animated and talkative. I often enjoy the process – feeling a sense of being ‘my old self’ but then when I return to quietness and stillness I recognise that I’ve been running on empty and I often crash. If it’s a one-off I can normally cope, but this past week has included a combination of a (joyful) family occasion and a few formal appointments as well as my wonderful weekly Creative Writing class. As the week wore on I was becoming more tired, but each time I attended one of these events I found myself becoming even more animated. And then I crashed. Exhausted. Unable to do the ‘normal’ things that I usually do in a day. Needing to rest. Not reading, not watching anything, just being still and quiet and riding the waves of frustration and sadness that once more I’m back feeling levels of fatigue I thought that I’d moved past. This, I know, is a feature of this illness and a clear message that I’ve
” …travelled too fast over false ground;” as John O’Donahue puts it so beautifully.
So this is where I am remaining tightly furled and saying “too soon” – the realms of social activity. I shall continue to do things – but limit my interactions to one to one conversations where possible and my engagements so that I have time to recover between one event and another.
And who knows, perhaps in time I will become the strong silent one in any group setting!