The theme continues with vulnerability. For those of you who don’t know Octavia Raheem, she is a gifted teacher, friend, mentor, and beautiful person inside and out. We are lucky to have her in our community. Octavia will also be a regular face of the Atlanta Yoga scene. I am happy to share her wisdom about her intention to heal. Octavia, take it away my friend!…
Last year was uncomfortable, to say the very least. I started the year with one word as my intention: healing. The innocence of setting such an intention: to heal.
Somewhere inside, I must have known. That healing requires an examination of wounds, a deep probing of how a wound came to be.
Over the course of the year, this intention would call forth memories that I didn’t want to claim: snapshots glazed over with violent textures, a twisted hunger, and the quiet rage of my childhood.
Almost daily I would end up tracing scars with my finger, those tiny points on a worn map whose direction would bring me right back to the first time that my love was crumpled up, spit on, and discarded. To early feelings of being a misfit Queen in my hometown where conformity was King. To tripping over my own dreams and falling into someone else’s nightmare. To the exact moment and chair I was sitting in when I forced myself to forget my father’s birthday because I realized he didn’t remember mine. The journeys through time and space were endless. And they were indiscriminate, they showed up when, where, and however they wanted to.
Places that I had once found solace- my yoga mat and sitting for meditation would become littered with aches, pains, and bruised thoughts parading through my mind. I would like to say that in spite of all this, I kept practicing. The truth is that sometimes I would roll out my mat, lie on it and sleep. And no, I wasn’t in extended savasana. I was straight up sleeping. I ended up thinking about meditating more than I meditated by the end of last year.
In the midst of all this, some of the people who I would normally consult as “trusted” mentors and guides- I started to see the beautiful and wisely sewn stitches in their costumes unravel. Their masks vanished, showing eyes filled with crooked intentions and lips that didn’t like the taste of truth.
One of the most vibrant sweet spirited women I knew died. Just like that. It was the clearest brightest morning when she died. Her passing gave new meaning to “life is not promised” and increased my own sense of urgency to heal so that I could live fully.
Around June of last year the gravity and weight of this intention floored me. I went to my doctor and discovered that a condition that I had been assiduously managing through natural, “alternative” and holistic means was not getting better.
The irony, here was not lost. It was in fact, pervasive and all around.
Last year was my year of healing and so much that had seemed unbreakable, cracked. What seemed steady and held together fell apart. Tried and true “medicines” and practices stopped providing sustenance.
I supposed things shattered, so I could see what was really there. I believe that things started to fall apart, so I could get to what’s at the center. I’m still working on that.
I realized that the old “medicine” and practices just couldn’t sustain me on the portion of the path that I found myself on. (More on this later.)
One truth that slowly dawned on me was this: that to heal is to reveal, to bring to the light. Healing, I discovered requires a radical acceptance of what actually is. To even begin the process, I was forced to sit with reality- all hues, shapes, and forms of it. I wish that I could say with resolution, that at the end of 2012 – my year of healing- I came to some place of wholeness and wellness that I didn’t know existed.
That’s not what happened.
Instead, the year closed, almost without my knowing it. As I prayed for strength and recommitted to stay open to all that is being revealed, so that I can clearly see my pathway to healing and have the courage to stay the course.