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Gravity is the force that pulls one thing towards another. It’s what enables things to fall, and it restricts the ease to lift back up. It’s what keeps you on the ground. It takes effort to push against it, or to pull away from it. It isn’t always easy. The heavier the object is, the greater the gravitational pull. The greater the gravitational pull, the more difficult it is to defy the power forcing you down, keeping you down.
One year ago, I was experiencing the worst months of my life. I was extremely over worked with working two jobs and taking a full course load of five classes, none of which I enjoyed. I was on the go every single day of the week. I did not have time to rest. I did not have time to eat properly. I barely even had time to shower, let alone do laundry. I was part of a social group that made me feel worthless, that made me feel angry, that made me doubt myself. I had gotten braces, for the second time – this time as an adult. I was suffocating under the demands of a relationship that was wrong for me in every possible way. I was suffocating under unfair expectations and restrictions. I was suffocating under my hopes that it would get better. I was so stressed, and my acne reflected that. I was so insecure about my appearances for the first time in my life, I don’t think I even looked at a mirror for days at a time. I had just moved out of my parents’ house for the first time into an apartment by myself. My bank account was seriously dwindling. After weeks of suffering from itchy welts all covering my body, I found bedbugs in my apartment. I had to move out for a month and along with throwing out the majority of my belongings, I had to allow my apartment to be sprayed with chemicals. I didn’t have time for anything, and my balance was completely off. My grades suffered because of this. I was so emotional, I would literally cry over spilled milk. I hardly smiled or laughed, and if I did, I covered my mouth, ashamed of the metal that had taken over my teeth. I wasn’t practicing yoga. I wasn’t doing anything that made me happy. I wasn’t doing anything that made me, me.
I did not feel beautiful. I did not feel intelligent. I did not feel confident. I did not feel capable, or independent. I did not feel free. I was not receiving the kind of love that I needed (or deserved). And I was not loving myself. I was insecure. I was unsure. I was afraid, and uncomfortable. I was full of doubt. I serviced others’ needs over my own. I was miserable. I did not feel myself. I wasn’t myself. I was a stranger. For the first time in my life, instead of falling into my strength, I fell apart. I fell into the trap of surrendering to all that was holding me down. I let the growing heaviness of what had become my life, pull me down with greater force. I let gravity win.
One year ago, when the rare chance came along I would roll out my mat. I would kneel down, place my hands palms up on top of each other in front of me. I would place my head into the cushion they created, lift my hips up above my shoulders, kick up… and come crashing right back down. I would land on my back, colliding into my couch, the wall, or whatever else was lying about in my small, messy apartment. Time, and time again, I would have this outcome. No matter how much I wanted to hold myself in a headstand, I couldn’t to do it. Instead of gathering up the strength that I knew I had, I let myself kick too hard over and over again back to the ground. Instead of using the balance I knew I was capable of, I didn’t trust in myself to find it, let alone stay there. I didn’t trust that I had the strength to resist the forces pulling me down. I let gravity win.
I wanted to be done with these feelings of worthlessness, of self-doubt, of pathetic desolation. I wanted to see the light again in my face when I looked in the mirror, I wanted to recognize myself as beautiful once again. I wanted to be overwhelmed with feelings of love, of gratitude, of excitation. I wanted to be enthusiastic about being a part of this world, be optimistic about the wonderful things that I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by. I was tired of being suppressed into this unrecognizable shell of myself, I was tired of surrendering in everything that was making me absolutely miserable. I wanted to be happy. I desperately wanted to be in a different, better place; and I didn’t understand why I wasn’t. I had so much hope that things were going to change if I just held on long enough. Each day I woke up thinking that that was going to be the day that things would improve. It took a morning of bawling in a stairwell at my university, being verbally mistreated by my (then) boyfriend, exhausted by the stress of school and lack of sleep, and discouraged by everything that was not going my way to realize that things truly needed to change. With comfort from my best friend and numerous hysterical phone conversations with my mom that morning, I was able to realize that nothing was going to change unless I changed them. It took me months to reach this turning point, months to gain the ability to see this situation with such clarity, months for me to see that things were only going to continue downhill unless I took control and put a stop to it. I finally was able to realize that I didn’t need to let gravity win.
All at once it became so obvious: I wanted to be happy, so I needed to eliminate everything out of my life that was pulling me down. I eliminated each thing in my life that made me feel horrible. I wanted to feel confident, so I stopped allowing the feelings of self-doubt. I didn’t want to be smothered in a relationship anymore, so I left him. I quit one of my jobs. I took less classes, dropping the ones that I knew would push me over the edge and challenge me in all the wrong ways. I created a positive space around me, in both physical surroundings and people. I spent more time with my tribe. I quit the social group that was making me feel worthless. I allowed myself to be angry – both with him, the situation and myself. I allowed myself to be upset, to be hurt, and confused. And then, instead of surrendering to the things in my life that were forcing me into this state of unhappiness, I started surrendering to the things that empowered me. I allowed myself the comfort I craved. I ate a lot of ice-cream. I found refuge in my family. I allowed myself to once again feel beautiful, confident, intelligent. I meditated and wrote, and used these as tools to work through my misery and begin healing. I began to hold space for the person I had lost over the months, and with that space, she started to show herself once again. I began to allow tranquility, to cultivate peace and to build myself back up. I made the time for yoga, and the balance gained in my practice extended to all the areas in my life. Both my body and mind were becoming healthier, stronger, and more flexible. The more time I allowed myself to spend on my mat, the more balance I gained. And soon enough, everything fell into place: I wanted to be happy, and I was. I wanted to stand on my head, and I did.
Today, my apartment is always clean. Dinner is always made, even with leftovers for lunch the next day. I am in bed at a reasonable time, and never late for work or class. My laundry is done and I have bubble baths on the regular. My bed is always made. I spend time with friends and have really been solidifying what I’m sure will be life-long friendships. I spend a fair amount of time in solitude. I go to yoga classes regularly. I laugh. I smile. I do my hair, have my outfits ready for the next morning. I am comfortably settled in my apartment, and although still getting the hang of budgeting for rent, groceries, and bills, my bank account is a little more fruitful. I have time for my family. I am not suffocating in a relationship, nor am I holding negative energy towards the ones that I have had. On top of being successful in my classes, I read for enjoyment. I experiment with recipes. I bake banana bread weekly. I am surrounded by people that love me. I have learned what it means to surrender to self love. I have learned to unapologetically be entirely myself. I have found balance, and I have embraced my ability to stay there. I defy gravity.
Today, I roll out my mat daily. I move through sun salutations. I stretch my spine, my neck, my hips, my core. I release the tension in my body, the tension in my mind. I build up heat and strength within my moving body. I steady my breath and use that as the source of my power. I create that same cushion with my palms as I did a year ago, but when I place my head into it and kick up, I balance. Every. Single. Time. I hold my body upside down and perpendicular to the ground. I focus my breath, strengthen my core, centre my balance, and hold it for as long as I would like. I am able to hold myself up despite the relentless force pulling me down. I defy gravity.
You need the dark to see the light. You need to experience gravity in order to appreciate how incredible it is to have the ability to resist it. Once I decided that I’ve had enough of defeat, I found the strength to overcome my challenges. As soon I found that strength, I pulled myself away from every source of unhappiness that was pulling me down into misery. I pulled myself into a place of balance. I went from being a stranger to myself, to blossoming into the truest version of myself. I turned my life into what I wanted it to be, what I needed it to be, what I deserved it to be. And as soon found that internal strength, it became physical and I could balance on my head. I went from having so much doubt in my ability to balance upside down, to an unfaltering, almost effortless ability. I have the strength to hold myself up despite of everything pulling me down, despite gravity trying to bring my feet back down to the ground. I had the strength to bring myself away from all of the ‘gravities’ in my life trying to bring me down. I gained the ability to keep my feet off the ground, and with it, my heart.
You need gravity; it is literally what holds you down to the earth, what grounds you. You need the force of it if you want to see how much you are truly capable of. You need it in order to appreciate how much of an accomplishment it is to stand on your head, to pull away from those things holding you down. You need to be reminded of the little things to be grateful for. You need gravity to keep you grounded, but you need to realize that you have the ability to not let it hold you down, to not let it hold you in place.
I needed that gravity. I needed that rough patch, those challenges to overcome. Every day I am thankful for my ability to have gotten to where I am today, mentally and physically. Gravity keeps me grateful, keeps me grounded, and thus keeps me humble. I am no longer giving any sort of gravity the liberty to hold me down. Gravity is no longer a determinant of my capabilities. I am strong. I am happy. I am healthy, and able. I am beautiful, intelligent and confident. There is nothing I am not strong enough to push against, or pull through. There is nothing worth letting hold me down.