An Old Yoga Tale

In the light of day in a beautiful forest, like the quiet of the night in a friend’s home, I forget that you, evil wolf, roam free. Most days when I hear your tantalizing call, I can will myself to escape you. Most breaths I can dismiss, the trance of your bright red eyes forcing me into a corner alone. Most seconds I can forget the stench of your breath choking me as it pulls all the trust and love out of my voice. Most minutes I can retract the touch of your matted and rough fur, tearing scabs of healing wounds. Most hours I can refrain from succumbing to your lonely, desperate, angry, and terrifying howl. Most days the defensive wall we constructed in my past protects me from you.

Most breaths, most seconds, most minutes, most hours, most days.

Today is not most days.

Pain threatens to pour out of my eyes, to roll down my cheeks when I hear your intoxicating howl. Subconsciously and effortlessly the armor around my heart builds with bricks, stained by thoughts and feelings of loneliness, distrust, and anxiety.  The wall strengthens as the sounds around me fade into the background to hear the cadence of your call in harmony with other evil wolves of my past. The notes become a hypnotic symphony to comfort a life in fear. I become a more devout member of the pack as I walk toward you, deeper into the forested fear. Most days I live in some form of fear. Fear that there is something inherently wrong with me; fear that I attract chaos to not only my life, but to the ones I love; fear that I will not be accepted; fear that everyone will eventually betray me; fear that I am, simply and expansively, not enough. Your power recruits me.

Today is not most days.

I froze before I took another step toward you. I look to realize I am completely alone. You are not even here. My eyes dart from side to side in desperation to see you; the only contrasts to the darkness of this solitude are trees. Your resounding call echoes, but I cannot see you. Where are you?! I am scared and you have forced me to be utterly alone. I lost the company of the present moment moments ago. I realize your illusion has kept me blind to the fact that my membership is based on isolation. I am completely alone in this forest, in this fear. Bile bubbles in my stomach… my desperation can’t even catch up with the pack, catch my belief in the security of this pack. All of these breaths, seconds, moments, minutes, hours, days, years this pack has not made me strong… it has kept me living behind a wall of fear.

Today is not most days. For today fear will win; fear that if I don’t listen for the good wolf that all of my insecurities will become my truth.

Drops of sweat begin to gather at my hairline and between my breasts as I take a breath of courage to listen for the foreign whisper of the good wolf. One would not know the excruciating pain I can withstand to retain a placid expression and ease of posture. White knuckles and a tight jaw illustrate the effort I exert to maintain the wall around my heart. I want to greet the good wolf while I appear at my best. Within a few breathes I let go, to relieve myself of the utter misery of keeping the wall intact. Instantly it breaks into pieces on the floor; feverishly I race to the floor to pick up its remains. My heart beats against the cage of my ribs. Panic coagulates with my blood as it races through me. My broken, ruby red heart beats in distress at its exposure. I lose control of my breath. I do not want to meet the good wolf like this… so exposed, so distraught, so vulnerable, and so incomplete. What creature I can trust, wants to help me when I am like this?

With every frantic attempt the pieces of my shattered wall become even smaller.  Blood gushes from my fingers as I am overcome with stress and fatigue when I try to pick them up. I stop and curl into a ball on the ground to marinate in moments of perceived failure on the ground. The pack I thought loved and cared for me only let fear isolate me from others, and from myself. The chill of the ground comforts the flush of my skin. Hysterical tears escape down my cheeks as my bones rattle in the path of exaggerated breathes.

How can I rebuild this wall all by myself?! This wall was reliable and expansive; the construction took over twenty years to build. After hours of reconciliation to my loss, I muster the courage to look up around me. I notice white fur above the grassland. My eyes follow the fuzzy triangular shapes down to two eyes. The animal is staring at me. I gasp. There it is, the good wolf, in this vast forest of fear observing me from behind a tree. The animal does not appear distraught at all, but rather at peace. I think it has been watching me, waiting for me, the whole time. After a few moments of holding its gaze, the animal stretches and begins to rise. When the animal walks towards me its magnificent paws do not make a sound. I can’t look away. Its steel eyes feel like grace. Its presence and awe grow with each step. I peal myself off of the ground to come to a seat. When the animal arrives we look one another right in the eye.

I point to all the pieces on the ground and frantically ask the wolf to help me put it back together. The animal does not move or make a sound, it’s simply still.  The animal paws at a few pieces, lays down and rolls around in the remains. The animal does not whimper or even bleed; its snow white coat appears unscathed. The pieces do not break. Fear that I will not be able to put the wall back together after all the pieces get mixed up, rises within me, with my body. I explain the pieces’ purpose; what happened, where the pieces go, how they got there, what and who helped to build the armor.  As I speak the pieces come together; to form a more malleable shell then what I wore before. I anticipate the weight as I place the small piece back over a part of my heart. This wall is not heavy, it actually significantly lighter, almost breathable.

My excitement grows like the smile on my face until I look down to see so many pieces left on the ground. I look into the animal’s eyes in disbelief not only for the lightness of the new wall, moreover that I was not afraid to show this animal my raw bleeding heart. I lay on the floor with complete physical and emotional exhaustion. The good wolf sighs and lays next to me, placing its head over my exposed heart. My eyelids become heavy as I give into sleep. I trust the good wolf to protect me from the evil wolves.

I blink with great curiosity, open my eyes very wide, as I wake up. I am no longer in a forest. I am on a familiar couch in a friend’s living room, who was just sitting there reading with a hand gently placed on my shoulder.  I take a deep breath and smile. For the first time in weeks I feel so much love in my heart.

Most breaths, most seconds, most minutes, most hours, most days, you and I, and we, all have a choice; to believe strength comes from holding the armor of pain's past alone, to obey the evil wolves, or to trust ourselves enough to trust others to support healing through a breakdown, to believe in good wolves.

For within all true friends are good wolves, patiently, just waiting to be seen. All we have to do is look up.

-Tira Hanaran

Kristin SchutzComment