Throwing Pans is Not Your Only Option

Last night in class I ended up with a roomful of people who had clearly been doing yoga for a long time. When we got to the first Warrior I, I said, “You all look like you’ve done this pose a million times, but you’ve never done it before in this moment. Don’t take it for granted, because that’s how people end up divorced.” Everyone laughed, but I was serious. (Not that I minded the laughter one bit). It’s so easy to think, “I know this person. I have their number down,” and stop paying attention. Stop learning and listening and being open to the evolution of the person next to you on your path. As if they’re frozen in time. As if there hasn’t been any growth or change since they said, “I do.”

Yesterday I received an email from a sweetheart of a guy. I asked if I could share his story anonymously, because I get emails like this all the time. He said he’s in love with this woman, but he’s not going to pursue it because his parents got divorced and he just doesn’t want to go down that road. He said he knows he’ll never find anyone as perfectly suited to him, that they have an amazing time together. There’s laughter and love and affection and intellectual compatibility, but he knows how it will end. I asked him how he knew. He said he just knew. That’s just fear, and I so get that it can be paralyzing. We only have the frame of reference we have, and our experiences shape us and inform the way we think about the world, romantic partners, friendships, and “our place in the family of things,” as Mary Oliver says.

Your past does not have to own you and neither does your pain. Your pain is running the show if you let go of someone you adore because you’re too afraid that someday you’ll be throwing a pan at her head the way your dad did at your mom while you watched in the grip of fear and powerlessness and rage. You do not have to live your life as that scared kid and throwing pans is not your only option. (Whatever “throwing pans” may be for you). You are not the same person you were last year, and neither am I, and neither is anyone you’re going to encounter today. We are always in process, everything is process. You respond and you grow, or you react and you suffer. A reaction comes out of your past. It happens when you feel triggered and your heart starts racing, your breath is shallow, and the whole scene, even the air between you and the other person, is charged. We get triggered when a current situation brings up a painful past experience. When someone says something or does something that’s the equivalent of stabbing a searing knife into the most tender place we’ve got. If it isn’t healed, it owns your a$$.

It’s easy to underestimate our capacity to grow and change and embrace new ways of thinking and being, but we are all capable of those feats. We’re built for them, because everything is in a state of flux, it’s the nature of all living things, of life itself. You are not your mother or your father or your wounds. You are not your thoughts, either. “You are the sky, everything else, it’s just the weather,” as Pema Chodron says. If you’re willing to walk right into the center of your fear and have a seat and open your hands and open your eyes and open your heart, you will find that it won’t kill you. It will hurt. It will be wildly uncomfortable and confrontational and if you allow it to, it will open you and soften you so you’re ready to give and receive love. It’s not easy, but it’s a lot easier than watching someone you cherish walk out the door because you did not believe in your own ability to forge a new path for yourself. To use your past experiences to inspire you to move in a different direction.

You are capable of incredible love. It’s the very essence of your energy in my opinion. It’s the real “charge” in all of us. You may have static in the way of fear and abuse and neglect and heartbreak and disappointment and despair and rage and bitterness blocking your channel, but that stuff is your path to freedom if you explore it. You can’t get to the love if you’re not willing to examine the pain. You’ll never outrun the pain and you can’t numb out enough to deny it. Or you can, but that actually will kill you. It will kill your spirit and your yes and your ability to continually uncover your gifts and share them. It may even kill you in a literal sense if you try numbing out to the degree that’s required if you really don’t want to feel the reality that you’re owned by your fear. Move into your fear so that eventually you can wrap your arms around the people you love without entertaining the idea of pans for even an instant.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.

6 thoughts on “Throwing Pans is Not Your Only Option”

  1. Wow – what perfect timing for this advice! I’m changing at warp-speed these days, and for some reason I assume the people around me are the same as they’ve always been. This is a great reminder to slow down, get present and really pay attention to my loved ones. Thank you.

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