The power of the New Year is upon us, where we make promises to ourselves to be better and do better. We are running at full throttle with this "new" energy in the air, but how quickly this energy seems to die off. Usually, about mid January and early February it peters out...and then it's back to our old habits and the new year's promises are forgotten and left in the dust. I too am guilty of these broken promises to myself.
Not this year! I REFUSE to go another year with broken promises to myself. So far, I have done everything I have promised myself, and (at this point) I only feel the draw and pull to go further into this journey; I have not felt one twinge of stopping or "falling off the wagon." All I feel is drive to conquer these promises to myself; this IS my year.
I have made promises to myself to get this anxiety/panic disorder under control... or at least try to understand WHY I have these attacks, and use every resource I can to help keep it at bay -- excluding prescription drugs. I refuse to be dependent on a drug to "keep my anxiety at bay"; been there, done that and bought the T-shirt.... NEVER doing it again.
So, since the first of the year I have scheduled yoga sessions at a lovely place located in Milford, NH. It's not your typical yoga studio, as the owner offers both mind and body exercises, which is exactly what I was looking for. I have been faithfully going 3 times a week -- with the exception of the snow days making it difficult for anyone to go and resulting in cancellations.
*shakes fist* Darn you, mother nature! :)
Last night, Jessica, the owner of Forever Yoga hosted an event called Breakthrough - A Unique New Year's Workshop; Jennifer Hudziec was the guide for this event. Jennifer is a Shamanic Practitioner, massage therapist, and certified fire walk instructor.
When I saw the event posted, it immediately caught my attention; I have always been drawn to shamanic ways and healing. I've always been curious about it, but never really knew anyone who practiced it. With this event happening, now was my chance to take a journey-- I really had no idea what to expect from this class. All I knew was that I wanted to participate in this workshop. It was a strange sensation... as it seemed to "pull " at me (in a good way). I felt this overwhelming emotion inside me calling, "YOU NEED THIS."
All week long, all I could think about was this event; the anticipation of going was killing me, and now it was finally here. YES!!
Walking into the sacred space was instantly peaceful. The candles, the dim room, the plant, crystals -- all of it was welcoming, and I felt safe and secure in what I was doing there.
It was a small group - which for that I was also glad. I had a very good friend come with me, as she loves this stuff as well, so I think that also helped with the easy feeling of being there; I had my person with me.
The event is about to begin, and I start to get excited and nervous, as I had no idea what to expect. We all settle into our spots, the introductions around the room happened, and then the journey began. Feelings of being so vulnerable, but at the same time cherished and free from danger; I was certainly having a mixture of emotions. One must have an open mind to do this -- one must allow themselves to invite different, 'nonstandard' forms of healing, when all other methods have failed them. Now the journeying begins; it is nothing like I have ever experienced... I have a hard time quieting my mind and shutting it off, so I was shocked at how quickly I let myself travel down the "rabbit hole." It was guided at first, and then all you heard was the beat of the drum and your own heartbeat. The rhythm, almost hypnotic, allowing you to explore your passage into this 'world,' but keeping you grounded in the present world simultaneously.
For those wondering what journeying is - it is the ancient technique of accessing the spirit realm to receive guidance, wisdom, and information. An accompanying drum or rattle beat guides one into what is referred to as "non-ordinary" reality. Power animals, spirit guides, ancestors, and other allies which may compose an individuals spiritual "team" are accessed to help support one's healing journey.
When I came out of my journey, I felt enlightened. I felt lighter and felt "healed"... but there was more. Something even more intense was about to happen right before my very eyes. Talk of the "arrow break" began... *gulp* :)
As the class silently and intensely watched Jennifer demonstrate the arrow break with Jessica, the room filled with gasps of disbelief. I however, immediately freaked out, and my anxiety was kicked into high gear. My first thought was, "This woman is nuts -- she wants us to break an arrow with our throat?!" Then I got mad and upset -- I had just left a beautiful journey where I felt lighter, and now all my fears and doubts came flooding back like a tsunami; my head was a swirling mess. I tried to pull it together enough to keep my mind open, and to listen to what Jennifer was saying about the process. The 'arrow break' (based on an ancient Fijian ritual) is the practice of placing the point of a wooden archery arrow in the soft tissue area of the notch of your throat and the other end against a hard solid surface. The participant then needs to ‘mentally pull’ their thoughts, beliefs and emotional responses to step or lean forward until they bend and then snap the arrow without injury.
Then my own voice took over loud and clear, "Listen up, Laurie! Snap out of it! You came here with an open mind stop freaking out and listen to her, listen to her words!"
Deep breath... okay, okay, breathe in, I am listening.... breathe out...
The arrow represents our fears, our negatives, our blockages, our "old skin" that we shed in our spiritual journeying prior to this arrow breaking ceremony. As people got the courage, one by one they went up in front of all of us and successfully completed the arrow breaking and afterwards relished in the joys of being free, celebrating their victory. Shaking their broken arrow over their heads in triumph. They conquered something huge tonight; I was feeling envious that I did not feel this same courage that these other people had shown.
WHY couldn't I do this? My fear was taking over. My irrational fear... taking over my life once again and choking me out.
Still sitting quietly, silently freaking out inside my own head and trying my hardest to pull it together -- but there goes my broken brain again and my irrational thoughts. Now I have gone to envisioning every person getting an arrow punctured through their throat, watching every person bleed out with an arrow lodged in their throat. HOWEVER, rest assured this did not happen -- not even remotely close to happening.
But in my head, it didn't matter that they were all safe and empowered and free... all that mattered to me was that I was trying to rein in this swell of panic that was overwhelming my entire being.
Then it finally hit me -- it literally was like a light bulb went off... *DING!*
THIS is why I am here: my panic, my anxiety; this demon that has ruled me most of my life. It hit me like a ton of bricks -- THIS was my biggest fear, my reason for about 95% of my panic attacks.
DEATH. My irrational thoughts of death and dying -- I can trace it back to six years old! My first panic attack was a result of my grandfather's passing. Could it really be this? Could this be the monster in my head?
I begin to think about my panic attacks and what triggers them. I get a twinge in my head, my thoughts automatically go to, "I have a brain tumor," and then the panic manifests and spirals out of control from there. I have a pain in my leg, my thoughts automatically go to, "I have a blood clot, I'm dying." It seems to be always related to death or dying. I think back even more --the passing of my dear, sweet Memere... the panic attacks lasted for months...and I was getting 2-5 a day!
Was this the energy block I have been seeking to release for years? Was this my breakthrough? Truly and deeply within my heart and soul, I believed that it was.
So, at that moment I raised my hand extremely slow as I was really still unsure of myself -- but for the first time ever in my life, in front of about 10 people I had just met, I voiced out loud why I was panicking. Then the tears started to flow, and everyone there did not judge, did not mock, or treat me poorly, or laugh. They were compassionate -- so warm, caring, and understanding. They felt my pain and understood it; they saw me raw and real.
Every single person in there embraced me - not in a physical sense of the word "embrace," but on a spiritual level. It was truly the best experience I have ever had, even though I was terrified of my next step. There was absolutely ZERO pressure to perform the arrow break in the traditional way.
I chose to NOT break the arrow with my throat (this time), as Jennifer gave me an alternative way to still complete this ritual and allow me to break my arrow. It empowered me in a way I have never felt before -- I believe if I ever get a chance to do this event again, that I will be able to break the arrow in the traditional way. We had a piece of paper from the beginning of class that we wrote on once we came out of our journey. We wrote what we felt like with our 'new skin.' Once the arrow break was completed we got to decorate it with crystals, bronze, feathers and yarn. Under the yarn on my broken arrow is that piece of paper, which is wrapped tightly and securely; a beautiful reminder of the road I traveled last night.
This emotional journey was empowering, and after 47 years of being on this planet and trying pretty much every method out there -- including traditional mental health therapy -- this was the first time I can truly and honestly say, "I had a breakthrough." This is the first time I can honestly say to myself and others that I feel better, lighter, and freer than I have ever felt before; I believe my emotional blockage has been cleared. Here’s the thing about emotions -- we experience them in our bodies, and the more we avoid experiencing emotions, the more they chase us; the only way past them is through them.
Here is my symbol of victory. My broken arrow. My new beginning. My breakthrough.