I used to believe that I was the controller of my life; that I was the only power within it. If I wanted something, it was up to me to make it happen.
To me, life was a physical game that tested my bodily limitations; a gymnast through my teen years, and then a gym rat in adulthood. I ran, I swam, I lifted weights. I stretched and soared to my highest corporeal limits, yet also managed to have a significant injury on a regular basis; many injuries that even required surgery.
I played this game at work and at home as well. Pushing to excel at my marriage, motherhood, and career – I lived my life full force, making things happen to meet the expectations others had for me. On the outside, I was a rock star, but on the inside, I was burning out.
I lived in a constant state of fear and anxiety. Never feeling good enough, smart enough, or what others expected me to be. I kept believing in the power of just me and pushing forward to meet the expectations I allowed to be put on me.
When my husband and I purchased our house, the master bedroom sealed the “perfect house” deal. In a town where walk-in closets were very unusual, this house had two. That’s all I needed to see, and the house was perfect for a soon-to-be-growing family.
The master closets became his and hers. We each had our designated space for our array of materialistic items and eventually a hide-and-seek place for our two young daughters.
With the purchase of this house, my life continued to be a push of being the best wife, mother, and employee that I could, leaving very little room for myself. The burnout ensued.
And then one day to my complete shock and distress, my husband left. My life began to fall completely apart; I was now a single mom, I required yet another surgery for a newly torn tendon, I was overworked and depleted.
As someone who always had it “all under control”, I emotionally and physically hit rock bottom.
But, in my nature, I numbed and ignored the emotional and physical pain and pushed on. I had another surgery, took up yoga, and had my best year ever at work.
Yet every day, I had the physical reminder of “his” closet in my bedroom. It became a painful void to look at.
The closet I once cherished became a constant and physical reminder of failure; The loss of what was “supposed” to be our perfect house for our perfect family. It’s sadness and hurt filling me with hatred and disgust for its empty, haunting memories.
To keep forcing my perceived stability, I started to fill the empty closet with material objects; random boxes, clothes from impulse shopping, even old kids toys. It became a cavity of crap; and a constant physical manifestation of my emotional pain on the inside.
Outside, I continued to press on, committing to a 40-day program focusing on yoga, meditation, and mindful eating. The physical asana practice 6 days a week was easy; it just another place for me numb and put my pain into physical movement.
However, I ignore the teacher’s requests to sit in meditation. Whenever I tried, it was if there was a war going on in my head of fear, frustration, and anxiety. I wanted to avoid it at all costs.
At the same time, the single-mom-kids-go-to-bed-leave-me-alone-I’m-exhausted struggle was real. The kids were suffering from terrible separation anxiety and would not stay in bed unless I was nearby (upstairs, in my room) and close to them. They wanted me in my bedroom, and I hated being in there; with the space that was so painful to me.
And then one day, I had a huge shift.
I was in a group meditation at a yoga, listening to an audio meditation being played by the teacher. The words of the meditation shook me to my core. All of a sudden there was this entirely new way of being that shifted my mindset in a 180. It changed everything about what I thought I knew. (Note: the audio was a portion of the book, The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz).
I began to put what I heard into practice, I felt less hard on the outside and softer on the inside. I learned to use my breath to relax me and at the same time fulfill me. I could close my eyes and be still both on the outside and within.
In this transition, I started to clean out the extra bedroom closet. I pulled out the shelves, plastered and painted. I made space for something new.
This new space, which I called the Yoga Closet, became a dedicated sanctuary to find calm and peace. I laid out a yoga mat on the floor along with a meditation pillow.
This once painful space transformed into a place of healing.
I began to spend more and more time in the Yoga Closet. I implemented what I learned in class and applied it at home; every morning when I woke up and every evening when my children were settling down to bed I came back to my breath and being still.
Slowly, I released the expectation that I am the only one in power and reduced my need to try to control the world around me.
My anxiety and panic lessened, my physical and emotional body hurt less.
The more time I spent in the Yoga Closet, the more it felt safe. The Yoga Closet became a warm, and fuzzy blanket, like a cocoon for my soul. I began to feel my emotions again on the inside as well as in my physical body. I didn’t need to numb or force things anymore. Friends said I looked happy again.
Through meditation, I have learned to catch my thoughts and shift them into a new way. I can reflect on past events and offer gratitude to them for their lessons. I don’t have fear or panic the way I used to; now I use meditation to help me manage my feelings. I have complete trust in what is happening in my life because of my willingness to show up for it.
Lindsay Kirsch is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.