As our soul resides in these bodies, our consciousness is consistently threatened by our autonomic system’s response to fear. When a body perceives a threat, its mind is overtaken by only one idea: survival. Since we as humans have long evolved into intellectual beings with most of their physical needs comfortably tended to, we aren’t always able to identify when this response is being triggered within ourselves. Consequently, we don’t give it the attention it needs, causing tension to build within ourselves and disrupting our relationship with our true self and potential. Our limbic system, the primitive part of our brain that controls the “fight or flight” reaction, takes control and drags the mind through relentless thought, keeping us from purely experiencing the now.
Every body carries with it some kind of fear, and mine has always been a brutal fear of judgment. I’ve never been one to think of myself as significant; I was always just there, trying my hardest to remain as unobtrusive as possible so that no one would ever even get the opportunity to judge me. When I would briefly emerge from my fears, I sought validation at every turn, something no one could ever adequately satisfy me with, leaving me running back to hide. Now, I have realized that you have to learn to love yourself before you can accept others’ love; true love can only come from within.
To accomplish this, I am learning to become my own best friend through self compassion, a practice that allows you to separate your emotions from yourself and not be overcome by them. By showing kindness to yourself throughout your struggles, you become able to retain your consciousness and the awareness of your true self while experiencing your suffering. You also learn how to take care of your body by listening and then responding to its needs.
Through starting this process for myself, I now recognize the depth of the wounds my anxiety carved into my psyche and so have begun various practices to strengthen and protect my body, mind and soul. As a supplement to my frequent energy medicine, meditation, ayurveda, and breathing routines intended to release energy tension within the body that has built up from day-to-day limbic threats, I practice inversion yoga to peak my consciousness and improve circulation, concentration, memory and processing abilities by reversing blood flow. The increased energy in the brain also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which produces balanced and calm feelings. Mentally, the practice requires concentration, forcing me to live in the moment and experience the now while enjoying myself with a whimsical yet challenging activity.
Inversions require a lot of practice (particularly in my case, since I have never been athletically inclined), which serves as a humble reminder that the greatest things in life come slowly with enormous patience, perseverance, and practice. Metaphorically, inversions represent the mastery of balancing the heart over the head and finding your true self outside of the ruthless mind. They also represent the importance of knowing how to look at life and obstacles with a new and unexpected perspective, even though it may take more effort and time. The practice demands emotional, mental, and physical strength but provides understanding and control in return.