"Come as you are, as you were As I want you to be As a friend, as a friend As an known enemy"
These Nirvana lyrics have been circling around and around in my head for so many weeks now. Initially I had thought (being a product of this era) - growing up in the 80s and 90s means I have random automatic recall of American rock band tunes (good and bad, hard and soft). After a few weeks I realised that this was not the case, in fact these lyrics were a message, a signal, a sign from the greater powers that are.
The month of March/April for me has been a big month. It has been a month where I have pushed myself professionally to a point that is quite close to the moon.
I have spent the best part of the last month working in the IDP camps in Myanmar's Rakhine state for the Danish Refugee Council. I have been working with muslim women in the DRC's centres teaching them how to breathe and also mentoring the DRC local staff to mentor these women. Those of you that have spent time in refugee camps (wherever in the world) will know that there aren't really any words that can describe what you witness. So I am not going to try.
It is my final morning in the conflict zone as I sit and write this blog. I am yet to really process the work, the experience, the response, the future of this work, or the future of this country to be honest. But what I am sure of is that I am so glad that I have begun - I am so grateful to my guides, my hunches, my persistence and sponsors.
I had not felt ready to start. The morning I flew to Sittwe I nearly didn't get on the plane. But I couldn't procrastinate any longer.
And then there I was.
Doing it anyway.
Pulled and pushed by excitement, fear, confusion. (Evacuation on afternoon one due to fighting didn't help add to the fear.)
Pulled and pushed by the mind, by the thoughts (oh the thoughts!)
Am I qualified enough to do this? Am I capable enough to do this? Have I prepared enough? What else could I have done? Am I, by coming in with an offering for these women, somehow making things worse for them?
"Come as you are, as you were As I want you to be As a friend, as a friend"
If you are working on something that is really important, something that you see as vital in your life, in your journey - then you will never feel ready right?
As human beings we are cloaked by these feelings and thoughts. We literally are. We are covered in malas (small balls of "dust" that sit on our energetic body) - these mala prevent us from seeing and experiencing our true selves - they are the result of maya, illusion. They make us procrastinate. They tell us we are not ready to begin. They tell us that everything has to be perfect before we start. They tell us we are not good enough.
There are three different types of mala but it is the anava mala, which sit over the heart space, that are associated with feelings of not being good enough, with that feeling of unworthiness.
Reach for cleaning products, get out the hoover, buy a new broom!
Get on your mat, move the blood around your body, allow the practices to increase the flow of consciousness through your system. (I would write "allow the flow of magic to move through your system" but after the last few weeks I need to redefine magic for myself before I write that).
To help with my work in the camps, my practice has been composed very much of postures to release the superficial muscles that sit around my chest and shoulder area, particularly my pec major and my lats. These techniques help to prevent constriction around the rib cage, allowing a deeper breath to transform my system and in turn allow my heart to stay buoyant and bold even when challenged.
I have put together this short 15 minute sequence for anyone that wants to try... for anyone that is cramped by anava mala... for anyone who wants to begin but is frozen. I hope it helps.... let me know.
1. Start on your back spend the first 3/4 minutes lying supine just breathing - as you do consciously relax the muscles around the shoulder and chest area work front/back/side/under the armpit/outer arm/inner arm/shoulder blade.
2. Roll onto your belly so you are prone and with one arm to the side (bent or straight) gently roll slightly to your side and bend the knees on top of each other. Try and hold like this from 2 minutes if you can. Make sure you do both sides.
3. Roll onto your right hip, using your right elbow and forearm to prop your torso up. Slide your yoga block on its middle height under the right side of your rib cage or a bit further up in under your armpit, positioning it so that one block edge is just below your armpit crease and the other edge is further down your side ribs (I think the block in this picture is placed a tad high so a bit lower than this). Find an area that is tender, but where you can relax enough to stay a while. If the whole area feels too sensitive, pad the block with a towel or blanket and try again. Once you’ve found a trigger spot, allow your right hand to support your head. Take a few slow and steady breaths, and then roll slightly back until the edge of the block presses into the latissimus muscle on the back side of the armpit. Take a few deep breaths there, and then roll forward - moving forward and back super slowly for about 2 minutes each side and then press the floor away with your left hand and come up to sit. Do both sides.
4. Puppy pose as normal and then bring the arms up in prayer above the head - elbows can be on the floor or on a brick try and hold here if you can 1 minute + a bit then try and walk the elbows left and right for side puppy and hold on each side again for about 1 minute.
5. Savasana - rest 2/3 minutes - feel.....
Begin with this sequence and then begin anything that you have been procrastinating on.....
You have everything you need to begin - and now is a great time. It is the New Year in South East Asia, and spring in Europe.... a perfect time to start.
If you are still frozen, ask yourself, what is it that is holding you back?
Ask for help.
Call on a friend.
Allow for an exchange or skills or advice.
And then show up - just as you are. Because that person that you are is enough, and has all the skills that she needs to start.
Come as you are!