No matter when it is or where I am in my own journey, I find myself in “The Squeel Zone” whenever I am around my teacher Ana Forrest. In ten years, I’ve never asked to take a photo with her. Way too scary. Yet, here we are bright and sparkly – I look pretty darn grounded. This is what conquering a Squeel Zone looks like.
I am still riding the wave of energy I feel from assisting Ana last weekend at the Yoga Journal Conference. I’ve assisted Ana several times over the past ten years, but this time was truly a landmark in my own growth as a teacher/healer. But there are many more squeels to challenge.
I literally squeel or squeek and have a mental freak out when I am upside down in an inversion and feel like I will fall. I never know when it’s going to happen. I could be safely against the wall or trying to balance away from the wall, but just one microshift can emit the squeel. I might have an experienced and well loved teacher friend spotting me, but something inside convinces my nervous system to go into fear mode. I stop breathing and suddenly get weak, I often can’t even kick up off the floor from the squeel zone. I am a strong warrior woman who suddenly reverts to a little girl on the playground unable to cartwheel with her friends.
As any good warrior, I usually get angry and want to kill someone or something in that squeel moment. It’s much more comfortable to push the feelings away aggressively than to sit with them. I thus Power Through It. Powering Through has served me, it is a good skill. However, like anything used to excess it becomes imprecise and ineffective. Powering Through leads me into shut down – I harden, I toughen up, I put strength on over a very scared little girl.
During one of my squeel zone sessions in practice, Ana reminded me not to power through and keep re-injuring myself which perpetuates the story this little girl has of “not being able to…” Instead, she said to find out what I can do and do that. Baby steps. ”Try a new way, and get really curious and excited about that.”
Over the weekend when I was assisting, I practiced not powering through. Thoughts like “I can’t do this” or “I’m not a healer” create a squeel zone I usually run into at some point while assisting. Hundreds of students, long hours of assisting and staying uber-present is hard work. It feels like a marathon of being present, the Forrest Yoga version of a meditation retreat. Instead of powering through, I tried a new way. I softened, I let my caring hands feed the students as I touched them. I matched my breathing to theirs, and I lingered with them, running energy and often easing the little child that had gotten freaked out. I found more strength than ever in my softness, my compassion and my trust. I didn’t worry about making the perfect adjustment, needing to “know”, instead I followed my intuition, my hands and heart.
I hope to translate this trust and ease into balancing in the middle of the room someday. I’m taking on small strengthening steps to get there every day in my yoga practice, and I’m going to try some circus classes to find new approaches to balancing. Instead of powering through the squeel zone, maybe I’ll be an adult and make some creative choices around what I can and cannot do today. I have this picture to remind me that growth is inevitable, squeel zones can become comfort zones.