Today I taught a yoga and meditation class for those with chronic pain or disease. The class focused on breath awareness.

At the start of class, I asked the participants in the class to write their story in 5 short minutes. When they completed this exercise, they put their writing in a bin, which was placed outside the yoga room. Each person was encouraged to “let go” of his or her story and for the next hour to remain centered on the present.

Bryon Katie, (www.the, reminds us that by staying attached to the story, we miss the gifts of the present. We cannot change the past so the ruminating just causes the misery. I am as guilty as the next gal, staking claim to my belief of a much-deserved recitation of my traumatic and eventful life. I am sure I appreciate all the “oohs and aahhs” and sympathetic glances. Nevertheless, I am ready to let go of my story. Frankly, I am tired of it!

The question posed for this class’s review is:

What is it that you might be holding on to that if you let it go it would create more space in your life?

Hmmm. What am I holding on to? I believe I am holding on to the familiarity of my present life. If people know of my injury perhaps they won’t expect as much from me. I won’t be held to as high a standard. Many years ago, after a brain injury, I was told that I might not graduate from high school or college. (Oops there I go again, the telling of my story!)

Why do I need people to know my history? Perhaps it is so that I can play small. That it is my own power that I am afraid of as Maryanne Williamson states:“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Or is it the chronic headaches that serve as a reminder, which keep me stuck in the past? Pain can lead me down the path of “poor me, why me, and dear me” all at the same time.

Lately, I am encouraged. I have developed for the past week, a meditation practice both at bedtime and first thing in the morning. It has been a fairly easy transition, since I mentally recite an entire body scan while I am in bed, with not much a physical exertion. Even with just minimal effort, I have noticed a shift in perception and in pain levels. The sensations of my body become my focus rather than the pain or anxiety about the possibility of pain. As I say good-bye to my story, the pain has lessened. I am brighter, more loving, and happy. Really, just in 5 days.

I share this experience with you because I can easily slide back to my old habits (and probably will)! I have had success in the past and eventually abandoned my practice. (There I go, bringing up the past again!) I am further encouraged this time by the support of the group. Together, I think we can optimally influence our perceptions and habits, even if it is only in small increments.

Let me know your thoughts and personal practices. I would enjoy hearing about them.

By the way, the name of the today’s yoga group is The Inspirations. We thought it best not to be known as the Chronic Painers. I am inspired by all of them.

Thank you.