The Hold

Get into a high plank. Hold this pose without holding your breath. For 10 breaths. For 20 breaths. For 30 breaths.

Even worse, get into a lower plank. Draw your elbows in keeping your upper arms parallel to the floor and hold. Hold it without holding your breath. For 10 breaths. For 20 breaths. For 30 breaths.

How long can you hold?

It’s not a heaving breath. It’s a slow and steady breath. Until you reach the moment when one breath feels like an eternity. Slow and steady controlled breaths, don’t shake your body, maintain your calm, bring the corners of your lips up, create a smile, even if you are faking it, it just might make it better to endure, but still, remember to breathe. Hold this pose without holding your breath.

How long can you hold?

My teacher narrated a story during Savasana. A yoga student went kayaking. She tipped over and fell out of her kayak. Her Kayak that contains all of her simple belongings quickly floated away. All of the other kayakers disappeared taking no notice of the one fallen. Through the rushing currents of the river, she, too, floated away. Fortunately, she was able to grab a hold of a tree branch. She hugged the branch for her dear life, giving it all her might to hold on. 10 minutes passed. 20 minutes passed. 30 minutes. Then all of a sudden, peace came over her and sudden calm enveloped her. At that moment, she realized that she could hold on. She realized that all of her sun salutations, arm balances, and other yoga poses have prepared her for this very task of holding on. She held on until the rescue arrived. For one hour, she remained. Against the rush waves of the fast flowing river currents, against the fear of the imminent death, she held on, and survived.

How long can you hold?

As I was holding my high plank form, doing my best to steady my frail mind, I thought about how aptly correct this analogy of holding a yoga pose was to a major depressive episode. Most of those around me did not understand the gravity of the darkness I was carrying in my head. Watch your TV shows and pass the time. Go out meet others and change the dynamic. Keep the corners of your lips up and just move along.

But I am in the rushing river. It’s flowing so fast. If I let this hold go, if I don’t hold on, the current will take me to the end of me. There is no TV here, no books here, no shops here, nothing that I could do to pass the time and make it more endurable, let alone more enjoyable. The others have all sailed away in their kayaks, and I am left behind, fallen, here in the rushing waves with no kayak to keep me afloat. How long can you hold?

In your darkest moments, what keeps you going? What is that one last thought in your head that makes you hold on to your dear life? And if your darkest moment goes on and on even though you have been holding as long as you can muster, and if you have reached the moment when just one breath feels like an eternity, how do you pass through that eternity without hoping for the life as you know to cease to exist? Can you hold in that dark and miserable phantom for 1 month, 2 months, 3 months? Or how about 1 year, 2 years, 3 years? Ten years? Twenty years? Thirty years? Or your entire life on earth? How long can you hold? Can you hold this pose without holding your breath? Can you still breath that steady, controlled breaths?

The quite voice was asking me throughout my entire yoga practice. It wasn’t a voice that urges you or prods you. It was just a silent whisper, quietly challenging you. Its purpose was not to defeat you or mock you. Rather, it had power to make me want to hold. It was a voice that made me believe that I could hold. And it was a voice that assured me that I could hold as long as I need to should I face my next darkest moment however long the moment may last.

How long can you hold?

I think we all have this voice asking inside of us. And when the question comes, I hope you can be assured that you can hold on. As long as you need to. Until the rescue comes.

 

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