How I Learned to Accept Life’s Challenges as Steps to Something Better
By: Rachel Priest
Have faith and know that even if you are in the midst of a difficult life struggle the hardship will pass and may bring great good if allowed.
Why is it when anything seemingly bad happens in life people tend to cower in fear, anxiety, and depression and ask the age old question of “Why Me? Why did this happen to me?”
Even though it is cliché, a lot of good can come from a “bad” situation or event. So much so that it can make you question, is there really bad and good? Before we go too far down the rabbit hole of philosophy, I want to share my story with you about how a seemingly “bad” event has forever changed me, brought me to my yoga practice, and spurred my new life.
>>Let’s Start from the Beginning
To give context to my story, we first have to look back to my middle school era. It was at that time that I began a 10-year struggle with bulimia. While I’m happy to report that as I aged I grew to have better control over the disorder, as with any addiction, the damage runs much deeper than the physical act. Eating disorders are accompanied with the development of corrupt mental patterns and habits. In my case this meant I grew to have little self-worth, loathed my appearance, and never thought I would receive love from anyone.
My entire life I have pushed my body to the extreme with exercise, which was almost an addiction in and of itself. Among other sports, rock climbing became my passion and was the first thing that started to allow me to make a deeper connection with myself! I climbed throughout college and when my senior year rolled around, I couldn’t believe how fast the time had passed. Around January of 2013, a hot yoga studio opened up right next to my apartment in Cincinnati, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I always viewed yoga as a sissy thing to do and never really understood the real meaning of the practice and meditation beyond the generic poses. Once I started taking classes though I quickly grew to love it. I found that yoga gave me peace in body and mind and was teaching me valuable lessons about watching my words and thoughts. This awareness has brought me to the hard work of slowly breaking my mental patterns of negative self talk and hatred – necessary steps to release the bonds that my eating disorder has had over me.
>>When Life Gives You Lemons
I began practicing yoga about 5 days a week on top of rock climbing and running regularly, working part-time, and finishing my last semester in college. I guess you could say I was a pretty busy. Life was looking and feeling good but then on March 2nd 2013 I fell and shattered my left ankle. In one foul swoop my entire life changed. I remember thinking, “excuse me, What? I can’t walk?… I can’t climb?… I can’t even stand up”. For someone who is very physically active and needs that activity to help bring clarity of mind, especially while still struggling with my self-image and worth, I was put in a very hard place psychologically. After surgery I went to my family’s home for a week for the beginning stages of my recovery and to face head on the negativity of my mind. While it was a struggle, the one thing I’ve learned about myself is that I will never ever give up and I will always find a way to do something that I desire. My favorite quote and the one that I truly have lived my life by comes from Remember the Titans and is simple yet profound. After a bad accident leaves a character paralyzed he says, “I’m hurt… I ain’t dead”. This is how I have always lived my life. Yes my body, mind, soul, and/or heart may be hurt, but I’m not going to stay down, I’m going to make the best of it and keep on living. By day 2 after surgery I started lifting arm weights again to keep my body strong and began looking online for yoga videos for handicaps.
I found a way to modify every pose from the ground as well so that I could continue going to class. Everyday I would crutch my way to the yoga studio and take classes. My healing progress was somewhat of a miracle. Yoga was really beginning to not only heal my body but my soul and heart as well. I began to view myself differently and actually began to ponder the idea of loving myself the way I am without comparison and self-loathing everyday for my body and size… What a novel idea right?! This started to get me thinking that there must be something behind this whole yoga thing other than just the exercise and I wanted to learn more.
>>A Matter of Perspective
Two months later, I walked down the aisle at my college graduation completely crutch free! I came to the decision that I would like to continue my healing physically but more importantly mentally by deeply studying yoga and becoming a teacher. I had studied business in college and was on the fast-track to working for a fortune 500 company upon graduation but I knew this wasn’t my path. I picked up moved and began my 200 hr yoga teacher training in Charleston, SC where I currently live and teach. Since then, my life has completely changed. I have adopted new views on almost everything and anything I had ever learned, thought or felt about myself or the world around me. I began questioning my mind and started the hard journey of re-writing all the damaging negative patterns and thoughts of myself that I have held for the past 10 years.
I have always had a strength within me to endure a hardship because I can see the light coming. Yoga has now given me a way to share this with others. My hopes through my practice are to continue learning more about my own mental patterning in order to break the negativity and help others to do the same and to find their light within. Going back to the beginning, all of this started because of a “bad” event of breaking my ankle but I can say that truly, I am most thankful for this happening. Had I not been broken, I would never be whole. My advice to you? Have faith and know that even if you are in the midst of a difficult life struggle the hardship will pass and may bring great good if allowed. Feel the struggle and be in the moment knowing that good will come from whatever situation you are facing now if you allow it.
You are made of a light that no one can dim other than yourself. We are all made of this same light and love. We are here to help and encourage each other, but mostly we need to love ourselves for who we are.
This is my story of what brought me to yoga. I hope to continue sharing thoughts and ideas with you in the future. In light and so much love to you all, keep shining your light and let others truly see who you are!
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