Perceptions, Illusions and Triggers- How Yoga Helps

 

Is there a problem?

 

I have been trying to unravel the relationships between perceptions, illusions (or delusions) and triggers, and what yoga offers me in terms of healing. PIT (perceptions, illusions, and triggers) grab me through my senses and misguide me via my gut. My gut informs my brain, again, and without a pause, without intervention, my thinking can lead me astray. So… how do I separate the seeming reality from the “true truth” (as my grandson, Leif, once put it; “What is the true truth?”) I have pondered this question over and over, particularly when my emotions run amok. What is REALLY going on here?

The cycle runs like this: a perceived slight becomes a damning assessment of my character and then evolves into an accepted and familiar “You are shit. You thought you were OK but you are not. You can’t do this (anything) right. Quit trying.”

Someone leads me on or tells me sure, they are going to do something, and they don’t, they shy away or I feel that they were just placating me to get me to go away. Rather than a reflection of themselves (prevaricators or actual liars)- I am triggered and fall into a past cycle of illusions about myself, absorb a perceived reality (I didn’t deserve the goodness anyway, I am a fraud, and so on.) I internalize what is actually external.

It can happen the other way as well. I am the one who gets all wound up about a possible scenario. I delude myself with thoughts of – what? – greatness, success, reaching others, opening possibilities, influence? You name it and the illusions of that quality overshadow the reality of just doing the right thing. Again the trigger: the hurt devolves into that critical unhelpful mindset. I overblow in my imagination something that, in its “right size” could be empowering or uplifting.

These emotional to mental reroutings plagued me before I became an active addict, during my “career” of addiction, and throughout my early recovery. And time to time, even now.

How have I been able to reroute this mental thought train of PIT?

With meditation, with self-awareness, with yoga. The tools I learned in recovery- the tools of the steps and self-inquiry- have helped me adapt yoga, ALL of yoga, into my personal program of action. When my feelings and then my mindset devolves into the samskara (habits) I have the tools to evaluate the illusions and delusions. I am now able to identify some of the traps, the grasping, the avoidance, where my ego has become over or undersized, what my false thinking has lead me to. I can also delve into my “feeling tones” at the levels of body, energy, mind, intellect, and spirit. I can avoid the complete rabbit hole sooner rather than when I hit the bottom.

Part of doing my recovery work is to delve into the past, pick out the circumstances and incidences and discern their impact on my current life today.  I then need to do some work to acknowledge and accept these moments, the events and figure out what my side was. Sometimes my side is just that I run with the intoxication of the feelings (anger, disappointment, resentment, fear.) Sometimes my side is asking the question the answer to which I know will hurt. I am either inviting the negative or inviting a lie. Sometimes my life feels so good I am afraid it won’t last… so I do something that I know will harm me. Like eating five cookies when I feel bad. I know it won’t help and I hurt myself anyway, knowing it will hurt my hurt.

Not really. It is likely perception.

 

So I delve, I look at the patterns, I investigate the sensations behind the feelings, and I root out my triggers. Pausing, breathing, movement in asana and then meditating can help me root out the illusions from the facts, the delusions of the present born on the shoulders of triggers from the past. Memories themselves can be dressed up in fears and emotions that can make them more bitter and significant than they need be. Compassion can help bring the past into real life size, rather than the larger than life recollection of my past. Particularly when it comes to myself. My brush is larger with a darker ink when painting my own past than that which I use on the past of others.

Pause, breathe, practice, meditate and share with others. This process can reset my system and reality, real reality, the TRUE TRUTH can be discerned.

 

My experiences with PIT have not gone away completely but they have become less vivid in time. And as they say in recovery “Time takes time.”  So, now, I will take some more time, practice forgiveness, and let go of pain as my only sign of life.

Kyczy Hawk is a writer and yoga teacher in San Jose, CA. She has written several books about yoga and recovery including Word Puzzle books that can calm your mind as you practice your principles in a fun way. Look for her books in online stores like AMAZON.

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