Between stimulus and response there is a space.

In that space is our power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor E. Frankl



I got into meditation because my body told me I had to. For many reasons. I went to learn how to self-soothe a frantic brain with the end goal of getting back to full time work. As with most things, what I am learning are things I didn’t plan for or even want to. I had to start further back, way before my injury, to learn self-compassion, to figure out how to be gentle with myself, and most importantly, to learn to love myself no matter what. In the thick and the thin. You see, I’ve always been hard on myself. I have this amazing ability to push through things, to keep going like the energizer bunny. Speedy Gonzales was my nickname. It can be a superpower, and it can be my worst enemy.

Just like in “Ultimate X-Men #41,” where a boy learns that his mutant power isn’t a dream come true. Instead it's a curse and causes every person, family member, friend and even dogs to burst into flames. Logan tells him there’s no cure his mutation and nobody can ever find out that a mutant could kill by accident. Since the boy can’t go on living, there’s only one thing to do. Wolverine walks out. End of story.

Thankfully, I have an option. Kindof. I must learn an entirely way of being, which my brain can’t yet grasp. Sometimes I feel like I am in a dream, in someone else’s body. Other days, I feel like my heart is so wide open, I can barely breathe. I feel people’s anger like shotguns and since I am not wearing any armor I receive multiple gunshot wounds. I feel emotions in the air but sense speaking about what is actually in the room is too difficult. So the elephant remains and I cower licking my wounds.

There are times when I find myself deeply listening, in a way I haven’t before even as a social worker. Knowing that what the person is telling me is their experience, their feelings, it’s about them. Not me. Not me problem solving it. Not me fixing it, not me wiping all the suffering away. And guess what? It’s a freeing feeling. And leads to deep conversations. It is social work, it’s planting seeds. 

So far, practicing has helped me grapple with the fact that my healing shouldn’t be another form of pushing or striving for that end goal. It is a push and pull inside me though, a fight, where there is no clear winner. Similar to the Cherokee grandparent that imparted, “a fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – the wolf is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good – the wolf is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought for a minute and asked, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

The yogic tools and teachings can reach and resolve the root of pain and stress. If we are brave enough to sit in that space. The approach can be gentle, compassionate, blissful, and deeply transformative. And long. As Sheryl Crow says, “everyday is a winding road but I get a little bit closer feeling fine.”

I have to trust this process and believe that when we face the fears of seeing what’s inside us - a new, blissful self-relationship expands and emanates to everyone and everything in our lives. I am working on expanding my space. Choosing my response. Growing my power. Savoring the freedom. Namaste my friends.

- Henrietta