Trust. Something that doesn’t come easily to me, nor many other people. I don’t know if it’s my anxiety, or my lack of a religious belief, but throughout my life, basically as far back as I have really solid memories, trust has been an issue for me. It shows up pretty much daily, in all sorts of ways, and can be insidious and tricky and hard to notice. It feeds and is fueled by my anxiety, my deep fear of abandonment and being truly alone in the world. It makes it hard to ask for help, to feel steady even in situations that should be completely calm. It’s probably one of the biggest reasons I keep coming back to my yoga mat, where I don’t just practice putting myself in various shapes and holding them while still remembering to breathe, but where I practice trust, starting inside myself.
In Sanskrit, there’s a phrase - sat guru - which means inner teacher. Ever since deepening my practice through the process of yoga teacher training, listening to my sat guru has become my way of practicing yoga in an advanced manner. Not advanced in terms of how fancy the poses look, but advanced in that I’m trusting that my body knows exactly what’s best for it if I can only let go of my ego and listen. This practice is beneficial to building trust within myself both on and off the mat.
The thing about anxiety is, it’s not rational. Not even a little bit, even though it may be grounded in something that really happened or is happening to us. I know I’ve been anxious all my life, even before there was any kind of trauma, so it’s a trait I inherited, probably along with chronic depression. I can remember being a kid and having the most insane worries that were so far beyond a niggle, they were debilitating. Dying was a big one, and then later, being abandoned, which kind of feels like coming as close to experiencing death as we can in our lives. Those two fears have been with me always, and though I may manage them better than I used to, I can still spiral into an anxious, fearful frenzy if I really stop and think about either of them.
Interestingly, I don’t worry about the big stuff that’s out of my control, like being shot when I go to the movie theater or someone hijacking my plane (my in-flight fear is so much simpler - that the plane will just fall out of the sky). I’m not sure why my anxious brain spares me these topics for self-torment, but I’m thankful, because I’ve got more than enough to deal with just managing to believe that my loved ones will still want to talk to me tomorrow.
Lack of trust shows up in other ways, too. I’m kind of a pessimist. You might call me a realist if you’re being kind, but from the outside? I often fear that it looks like pessimism. But there’s a good reason: I don’t believe that good things will happen to me, or in the world. I have no trust that things will work out in the end. At a base level, I am always, always preparing and planning for the worst.
So. I’m a yoga student and teacher, and a person with chronic anxiety and major depression, who doesn’t believe that anyone loves me or that anyone will stay, that there’s hope for an amazing future or that there’s anything I can look forward to after this life. But somewhere inside me, there IS a spark. A glimmer of faith that lives deep inside my soul - this is what brings me to my mat, to meditation, to my journal, to the therapist’s couch - to moments of deepening.
And sometimes, when that spark of faith starts to die out, the universe will send me a sign. Sometimes it’s things falling into place after a long time spent in uncertainty (which is happening). Sometimes, it’s a loved one knowing you even better than you know yourself, being able to read you more deeply than you thought possible - and feeling truly seen. (This also recently happened.)
And sometimes, the sign comes when I sit and just breathe. Trusting my body to take me from this moment to the next, and not needing anything beyond that.
So. When the universe, or a friend or a therapist or a loved one, reaches out and says “I’ve got you” - can we accept? Can we trust that if we take their hand, they won’t let go, and that even if they do, somehow we’ll be okay? I am choosing to try.