Two weeks ago, I had a brain MRI to figure out why I was experiencing double vision when I drive or watch TV.
While looking for a good vein to start the IV contrast, the technician asked if I have ever experienced trauma.
I knew she was referring to physical trauma – such as a concussion or other head injury – but the word trauma triggered me for other reasons. I immediately thought of the emotional trauma I had endured during my marriage, events that led to its breakdown. Her routine question brought forth a powerful emotional reaction. I started to cry.
My emotional response then triggered a physical reaction: My vein shut down. The technician could not insert the IV and she was concerned I would not be able to do the MRI because I needed to lie still with my eyes closed.
I summoned the tools that I often share with clients: I practiced the deep breathing that I teach in my Byte-Size Wellness Academy and in my professional speaking. I calmed myself down so that I could begin the MRI.
With an eye mask and headset playing classical music in place, I was ready to proceed.
This was my first time doing an MRI and I was told it could be a claustrophobic, challenging experience to stay still for 45 minutes.
I chose to take this on as a mindset and mindfulness experiment.
So throughout the extremely loud, banging noise from the machine – which reminded me of marital disputes filled with yelling, swearing, name-calling and arguments – I focused on the classical music filling my mind, which steered me towards thoughts of the calmness and unconditional love I experienced with my dog, Benji. I was then able to stay calm, grounded, centered and still in my body.
Being mindful in a cramped MRI tunnel and able to summon that tranquility reminded me of a quote I read recently:
Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.
I was able to be present, connecting my mind with the body through the breath.
I had applied the same practice when Benji was nearing end of life and then died, practicing yoga four times a week.
I channeled my inner warrior strength into yoga and breathing, which helped me stay calm, balanced and focused.
The sadder I felt, the more flexible and agile I became.
The more I found my drishti – my focused gaze, where I chose a focal point on the wall in front of me – the better I could maintain balances like tree or dancer pose.
When I leaned into my emotions, I was able to express myself through challenging poses I never thought I could do. I mastered inversions – headstands and handstands – and arm balances.
The studio became my Cirque de Soleil playground, and a new kind of therapy: Certain poses like pigeon pose, a hip opener, evoked emotions that led to crying. It was very therapeutic, cleansing and healing for me.
Heart opener poses like fish pose, dancer pose, upward dog, camel, cat/cow and bridge released painful emotions and evoked joy.
Yoga and targeted breathwork can help you through all kinds of challenging situations.
I'm a 200-hour Yoga Alliance accredited yoga instructor and I built a large library of curated mindfulness, breath awareness and yoga videos that also include downloadable resource sheets.
MINDFULNESS BREAKS help calm the mind, reset, refocus and revitalize while admiring nature and beautiful scenery.
OFFICE YOGA BREAKS classic yoga poses - adapted for business or casual attire - provide a needed mind-body break.
BED-TIME YOGA PRACTICE includes yoga poses to wake up the body and mind to kick-start the day, and wind-down stretches to relax and promote stillness before bedtime.
These self-care resources can also be found inside Byte-Size Wellness Academy, my online wellness self-coaching program that’s now available for personal use.
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