Including on myself! Read my story below.
Click through to read through some of the more frequently asked questions about Merry Therapy
To give you an example of how yoga therapy works, this is a case study on me and how over a period of about 10 years I worked through anxiety and fear (from childhood that worsened as I progressed through my legal career); grief and PTSD; migraines and insomnia; and worsening congenital heart disease - to where I am now.
The main point I want to emphasise here is that although I benefited from very good health care providers – GPs, psychologist, neurologist, physio – along with some great business mentors, yoga teachers and friends – none of them (with the exception of my Yoga Therapist) had the remit to be able to take in the big picture and advise on all aspects.
I had to work most of this out for myself, and discovered that Yoga Therapy provides exactly this framework. Yoga Therapy requires you to take control of the way ‘you do you’, and good Yoga Therapists must be able to understand themselves before being able to assist others.
This was the answer my GP gave me when I asked him the question ‘why am I so tired?’. Although he was right, I didn’t feel it helped me a whole lot. Surely there was a way to be a good lawyer, and also not feel like crap all the time?
Anxiety manifests in a number of different ways and for it me it was fear of the future – all the terrible things that could (but were extremely unlikely to) happen. My gut often had a gnawing sense of dread and I was tired, dead tired. Waking at 2am and not going back to sleep. Feeling fried and on edge. Wanting to impress and instead impressing no one (including myself).
Thanks to a generous mentor I made some major lifestyle changes – location, job – and was finally feeling more balanced, when my wonderful elderly doggo companion got sick and I made the decision to put him to sleep. Struggling with PTSD, a few months later my friend then took his own life, and I nearly disintegrated.
Nearing 40, my hormonal migraines also began to surge and I began to feel the fear again, of a future of unavoidable cyclical suffering.
Then icing on the cake – my routine heart check-up showed deterioration and potential surgery, and either a future of blood thinners, or more surgery every 10 years.
It’s all about layers and pillars.
My first port of call was movement, and not just physical (which is surely very important) but also energetic and mental. To put it bluntly, I was hyperactive. Too much dynamic yoga, too much coffee, too many things on the go, too much mental input.
I had to learn to step back, just a bit, and become more grounded. Moving location and job helped a lot with that. It took me longer to ‘let go’ of the hyperactive approach to physical movement (although it was quite meditative, in that it took a lot of concentration, and lots of fun). Eventually I settled on a calmer practice of yoga and movement (bushwalks in particular), with a different approach to concentration – resting awareness, rather than intensity.
During the intense grief phase, I really benefited from movement that physically emulated the progression of grief from compression to expansion.
Interestingly, it was about this time that calm began to noticeably filter through into the rest of my life. In CBT they call it ‘dropping the rope’; Mark Manson calls it ‘how not to give a f@%k’. I began to find space and genuine joy.
The stubborn migraines and insomnia remained and I had to accept a period of pharmaceutical assistance and regular acupuncture – not easy for me, as I still really wanted to ‘do it myself’– but in hindsight the absolute right thing to do.
Feeling pretty good, I was in the best position to deal with the news that I might need heart surgery again. Suddenly I was confronted with feelings of mortality – both my own, and that of the cow or pig that could have been the valve donor.
As a vegetarian, could I live with the fact that another living being had died so that I could live for another 10 years? My Yoga Therapist and I worked together on a range of physical, energetic and meditation practices to help me work through the thought process, and be ready for surgery. Thankfully I don’t need it yet but they will be there if and when I need them.