For a good part of my adult life, I was on high alert: a state of being that I characterize as succumbing to adverse reactive and habitual patterns. The most prominent manifestation of such a state was anger.
High-alertness followed me like an obedient pet into parenthood; I yelled at messy rooms, unfinished plates at mealtime, and dilly-dallying during bedtime routines. Each time this state arrived, a residue of regret, shame, and helplessness lingered.
Fortunately, yoga and I found each other when our girls were young. Unbeknownst to me, it would become my first gateway for dismantling the years of accumulated tension that suffocated my musculature and locked me into a cycle of poor choices. Through the additional vehicles of meditation and life coaching, I began to understand that this state of high alert was a necessary form of protection. It kept certain situations, people, and even my own consciousness at bay, affording me time to catch up to the fullness of my being. My slow, devotional route to dissolve my anger eventually led to a wealth of sadness. I began to realize that the twitches and tears discharged during what seemed like simple stretches early in my yoga practice was alchemy in motion. The door to my sadness continued to open, and I communed with the rawness of it. At its core, I found a well of primitive energy, the pulse of my inner world. It was an illuminate, flowing river of life. Now, when anger sweeps in and tries to steal the show, I welcome it as an old friend.
Before I was able to meet anger with kindness, I uncovered the root of my reactive patterns. Then, I informed my family so that they would not take my indignation personally. To transmute the patterns, I promised our girls that I would do three sun salutations before commenting on their messy rooms. Eventually, this practice became comical: “Mommy is doing her sun salutes now” was followed by giggles and the pitter-patter of feet heading to perform the forgotten chore.
Now, when uncomfortable feelings arrive, my work is to refrain from labeling them “good” or “bad” and to regard them as messengers from my highest wisdom. When they come, I don’t project or avoid. I ask, “What are you here to teach me?” “How are you helping me?” “How can I transmute this energy to one that serves my highest choices?”
Thank you, high alert, for liberating my family and me by showing us how to choose wisely.