October 18, 2011 § 4 Comments
Things have changed, since I embarked on this Ashtanga path almost two years ago.
I’ve gained muscle mass, strength and flexibility, and, somewhat miraculously, my relationships have changed too. People who were a drain on my energy and time are either out of my life, or occupy a smaller part of it, leaving me the space to pursue and build my interests. Emotionally, I am more aware of my mood swings which occasionally veer on the brink of depression. Where I would have previously gone off on the deep end in PMS mania, these days there’s a quiet alertness that catches the negative thoughts and tries its best to haul my mind out of the dumpster. It’s not perfect but some days are better than others.
Another intriguing change in the past couple of months – is my increased sensitivity to happiness and sadness. It’s as if the barriers around my emotional center are no longer there. My laughs now feel free and genuine and come from a place within that I knew in childhood but thought I had lost. Conversely, I tear more easily at sad news that may or may not impact me. Case in point: crying upon learning that Steve Jobs died. For 10 full minutes.
We learnt yesterday that my husband’s uncle passed away in a car accident, and his wife is seriously injured. I’ve only met them a couple of times and barely exchanged anything more than cursory greetings, but I found myself feeling helpless and a little unsettled the whole day. I’m in that strange place between familiarity and remoteness, where sadness would be appropriate up to a point. But the reality of my sadness goes beyond that point of simply sympathizing with a widow and with a family that has lost its father and brother. It is a sadness supported by a depth of empathy that may seem overblown upon a casual review of the facts, but actually feels just right, regardless of what social norms say. It is pure sadness for the loss of a life, nothing more and nothing less.
This enhanced sensitivity to sadness is rather strange to me as my rational brain tries to understand what’s going on, concerned with knowing and following the “right” way to react, shaped by experiences that have learnt that crying makes others uncomfortable and therefore should be minimized as far as possible. “Why are you so affected by the deaths of people you hardly know?” it asks.
I have no answers. But maybe there are none to be had.