The other day I recorded an interview for a webinar/summit about simple solutions for stress relief. (I’ll share details about the summit as the time approaches so you can join – it starts April 4.) As I started to sift through my mental files for what to teach, it occurred to me that the deeper vision of yoga can get lost in an attempt to locate the best of its techniques and practices.
At its core, stress is about disconnection. Yoga means “to join” or bring the disparate together. So what yoga offers, through postures, breathing and its other process tools, is an opportunity to connect. This reconnection is the simplest of all the stress relief tools. But it’s also the most complex to apply – because all of us disconnect in different ways and for different reasons.
For humans, the need to reconnect is hardwired. Without it our very existence is threatened. Mark Zuckerberg built his addictive empire out of our desperation for connection. And Snapchat is about to become the largest U.S. IPO since Facebook went public 5 years ago (so I guess connection plus flower crowns and dog ears are especially helpful ;-)).
We urgently desire it, but connection can be elusive. And connection is not just about connecting with each other. Connection is the healing fractal that drives all of our attempts to heal. Fractals are unending patterns, images of dynamic, emerging systems. Connection isn’t singular. We need to feel connected to our partners, our kids, our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors, our culture. But we also need to connect with ourselves – our bodies, our thoughts and emotions, our values. And ultimately, an intimate connection with our higher selves is the very source of the healing that fractals out into all aspects of our lives.
When we are stressed, there is a glitch somewhere in the system – we are in some way out of sync or dis-integrated from our relationships. The sparkling wholeness of our lives has dimmed. The resultant disconnection (in any of its myriad forms) is at the root of all illness, addiction, chronic pain, mental health challenges, and disease.
Gabor Mate (my favorite addiction expert) wrote, “Addiction always originates in pain, whether felt openly or hidden in the unconscious.” The questions are not about why we are stressed, addicted, depressed or sick, but why are we in pain? Pain (at least in its chronic forms, be they physical, emotional or spiritual) is the red flag yelling at us to find connection.
At a lecture, Catherine Bushnell, a leading chronic pain researcher at the National Institute of Health said, “Practicing yoga has the opposite effect on the brain as does chronic pain.”
That’s because yoga does what we most need as human beings – it reconnect us. It repairs relationship.
When we read the evaluations of our programs, almost inevitably, people comment that they loved connecting with others doing similar work in the yoga and/or mental health worlds. Yoga is not just about learning the best techniques, it also facilitates this coming together of like minded people. The yogis called it satsaunga – the truth of community. All of my work these days revolves around making connection. I created a Facebook group called the Subtle Yoga Community Page, for people who have taken any of our workshops or trainings. Feel free to join!
Over the years, watching so many gifted yoga teachers, yoga therapists, and psychotherapists develop and thrive has been incredibly rewarding. To feel whole, to heal, and to grow, we all need to connect – it’s really the simplest and the deepest stress relief yoga has to offer.
For connecting with some stress solutions – check out our Subtle Solutions for Anxiety Kit.