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How I Found Healing in Yoga

*Trigger warning: domestic abuse, mental health issues


Bamboo forest

It’s hard to explain the power of a consistent yoga practice without sounding cliché.


The practice of yoga has played a massive role in my transformation and awakening. It has made me face my deepest wounds and touched my very core. It has been fully there in moments when I have forgotten my own name.


I want to share my origin story with you because I was able to find meaning in loss and trauma through the path of yoga. I hope in sharing my story, you can also discover your strengths and awakening.




Fighting and Surviving

“You live through that little piece of time that is yours, but that piece of time is not only your own life, it is the summing-up of all the other lives that are simultaneous with yours…. What you are is an expression of History” - Robert Penn Warren, World Enough and Time
Gurudwara Sahib Rishikesh

My home environment growing up was a source of pain and suffering. My father was emotionally and physically abusive toward my mother and me. By the age of twelve, my rage and a sense of justice pushed me to gather years of medical reports, police reports, and rehearsed witness reports so we could put him in jail.


After some painful realizations, my mother eventually left him. When we thought everything was finally over, my mother fell into a deep depression. That’s when I learned to keep my feelings and needs to myself because there was someone else more worth fighting for. I stopped asking about life. I blamed and judged the world for not being there for me.



The Loss of Self

“The monsters were never under your bed. Because the monsters were inside your head. You fear you see monsters everywhere. Because all this time, the monster has been you.”- Unknown Author

In my teenage years, I moved through the world with a dark filter, lacking self-esteem and a sense of worth. I questioned my own existence. I built a strong wall. I never showed vulnerability because I believed I had none. I learned to hide behind my mask. I learned to avoid questions by not initiating any deep connection.


I attempted to fit into an ever-shifting world of people and things. At times my rage was so great that I had very little room for anything else. The pain in me was always there.

There was no peace within myself.


The nature of anger is resentment, an integral part of the armoring around the heart. A form of grief, a response to loss, to not getting what we want. The thoughts were so seductive that they nursed themselves into a flame. At the heart of hatred is blaming. Fire consumes what is. Water thirsts for more.


Untying the Knots

“The universe is not trying to break you, my dear. It’s trying to wake you up.” - Unknown Author

Years later, I tumbled into a quiet room at a gym, where the light was dim. Some people were sitting on the floor, waiting for something to happen. I thought this was a great place to get a workout while I hide in the dark. It was perfect. I started going there every day, sometimes twice a day.

My beloved studio in Taipei

A few weeks later, someone asked me what I had been doing at the gym.

Me: " Oh, I don't know. It's the back room."

Her: " Maybe you should know the name of the class?"

Me: “Oh, right, that's the normal thing to do. I guess I’ll ask the front desk tomorrow.”


You guessed it. It was yoga.



In this room, I didn't have to face anyone. It was just me. The voices and images in my head were silenced. I learned to witness the pure being that is me without any baggage or filter.


This is where I learned to accept myself. Acceptance is magic. Acceptance is gentle. It helped me acknowledge the depth of the potential for suffering as well as joy. There was room in my heart to be curious. This curiosity guided me to authentically be myself, even when my heart may not always be open and my mind may not always be clear.



Making Sense of Suffering

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” - Tagore

I couldn't understand the world around me for a long time because I continuously fell into the black hole of my own hurt and pain. The recurrent flashbacks of my father's violence, demands, and anger haunted me.


I was never truly happy. Deep down, I wanted a reset button. I wanted revenge. Compassion and forgiveness were obscure concepts for me. I thought they were what allowed people like my father to get away with what they did.


The beauty of yoga is that it opens up not just my body, but my mind. The more I fixate, the tighter the grip. The more I let go, the more spacious and light I feel. I finally stopped overthinking and started to feel my way through things.


The spacious ease that yoga created invited compassion to be felt within me. In yoga, I learned that to love, you must grow up. Love isn’t somewhere else. It doesn’t need to be taught. It was in me all along.



Rescripting My Life

“Now it’s time to compensate for those years of loss. What remains that cannot be destroyed is, and forever mine.” - Unknown Author

The greatest reward from yoga was that each time I became a little more confident and a little more in tune with my feelings and emotions. In my practice, I can truly be myself and be with myself. I felt like I was actually living. My past no longer haunted me, and it no longer had any power over me.


In the infinite space of possibility, I found freedom in the practice of yoga. I finally met myself. I sharpened the importance of digging deeper and really listening to my inner thoughts, habits, reactions, and even the silence.


On my first trip to India, I learned the concept of Maya (Sanskrit). Maya is the reality we create- the illusion in life. It is how we label things and give meaning to the world around us. It was eye-opening to realize that I was experiencing the world through the lens of my past.


Ganga Ji

Once I knew the ignorance created by Maya, I was able to see the reality that I was no longer in danger. I'm safe now. I'm not weak and small anymore. I'm strong and can create the life that I deserve. By not forgiving my father, I had imprisoned myself in the past. My anger against him was a punishment for myself. I finally understood the power of paying attention to what's present.


I was holding onto who I thought I was rather than allowing myself to evolve into who I was meant to be. This fear held me back from fully embracing the beautiful, complex being I am becoming. Once I embrace the ways, I'm always changing. I'm creating a world where change is not feared, but celebrated as a natural part of our journey toward becoming our best selves.



Finding Peace

" Yoga allows us to reach the goal of life that is to live worthily." - B.K.S. Iyengar
Mom and I dancing

It’s been over ten years since I first stepped into that dim little room. I now live in a reality entirely created by me. Things I couldn’t dream of in the past are now my reality. If I’m experiencing something, it means I created it. If I don’t like what I’m experiencing, it means I need to look at myself, recognize how I created it, and take actions that are in alignment with what I want to be experiencing instead.


I am able to touch fear and pain with mercy and awareness because of yoga. I focus on growing, daily. Every day I’m growing into my greater potential. All I have to do is stop resisting it and receive the love available to me, right now.

I have begun to trust my capacity for wholeness. Meeting life in a fuller way, moment to moment.


I’m able to be open with myself and explore my resistances and long-held aversions. This has allowed the possibility of touching other people's pain with compassion, meeting another as I meet myself with a little more clarity and tenderness.

When I no longer recreate the problem, I reaffirm the solution. The healing we do for ourselves is healing for all.


I can still detect pain beyond the everyday mask I wear, but if I continue to look, I can see how the patterns of pain hold that very mask in place. As I investigate further, I can see that even the patterns shift and rearrange themselves. I see how my reactions to my emotions can keep me at a distance from myself.


As I continue to watch with the mind’s eye, I connect with a source that breathes awareness into every layer of my being. I see myself as I am, not at first glance through the filters of my habitual assumptions and emotional patterns.


Mika and I serving bread at Namgyal Monastery

For the past few years, I’ve been feeling a deep change within myself. As I journey through this life, I'm constantly evolving and transforming. I believe that growth is a vital aspect of our journey in life, a beautiful dance of change, a constant unfolding. I am so grateful for the lessons learned; the growth experienced, and the new possibilities that arise with each transformation.


With all my heart, thank you all for reading. As you journey through life, I hope that you can find the best approach that can guide you through your own unique complexities.


I hope that you find the freedom to allow yourself to fully immerse in this experiment of life. I hope you remember that the journey is just as precious as the destination. The experiences we have along the way are exquisitely valuable in the lessons they leave imprinted within us. It is in the journey where we find true growth and transformation.





love,

Patti




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