I am a sensitive introvert living in this world and know I’m not alone. The constant pressure to do more, move quicker, accumulate more Facebook friends, and navigate overstimulating situations with ease can be incredibly challenging if not damaging to our self-esteem. For those of us who crave depth and solitude and time to simply breathe, we must be cautious to find places to restore and reset our delicate nervous systems.
Years ago, I had just finished a graduate degree, accepted a full-time teaching position, and moved to a new town. Although these were “good” changes, they sent me into overload, but I didn’t want to listen. And so my body and mind in their infinite wisdom nudged harder: chronic exhaustion, irritability, panic attacks while sitting in traffic jams. At a loss, I sought advice from my doctor, and with kind eyes, she listened and wrote me a prescription for anti-anxiety medication. “This should help,” she said, and so I believed her, trusting that medication was the best and only cure for someone like me.
The pills evened me out. Fewer tears. Fewer panic attacks. I could sleep again. But this cure was not perfect. Dry mouth. Headaches. 26 and no libido. And I didn’t like needing to rely on something outside myself for a way to find an oasis of calm.
A few years later, I tried a yoga class at a gym. Watching beads of sweat drip off my body and onto my mat, I felt good, different, calmer. In the standing tree pose, I felt my feet – my small, stubby feet—hold my body straight and strong. I felt my breath moving in through my nostrils, around my heart, and out my mouth. In that moment, I existed only as me, completely unaware of the music in the background, the kind that at other times jarred my head into migraines. I didn’t even notice the other students practicing near me. Just me and my breath. I wanted to savasana to last forever.
I have been practicing yoga now for over ten years. Some days I am skeptical, wondering when my mat will fail me, but it doesn’t. Each time I close my eyes, feel into my body, and take an inhale, I am reminded of the inner calm that is with me always.
By Erin Walton