I opened my eyes on September 12, 2001 and gazed at the light fixture on the ceiling of my New York City bedroom. There was a momentary wave of relief as I thought I was waking from a terrible nightmare. Then reality struck: 9/11 really did happen. I felt a heaviness as the next thought hit me: “I’m still here.”
The previous day, my morning commute had taken me through the World Trade Center on my way to One Liberty Plaza. I made it as far as the ground floor of the World Trade Center when the first plane hit. After miraculously making it out of the building, I wandered in a daze, looking for work friends and co-workers. No one dreamed a second plane would come.
The next couple of years were rough in the sense of how grief and PTSD unfolded in my life. It was hard to sleep, so I’d take Nyquil or have a drink or more. I lost weight from throwing myself into my life – NASDAQ by day, performing by night. I had always joked that dance was my first love, New York City my second. I would run by cab from one rehearsal to another, taking on way too much. I was never at home. Eating less and drinking more were part of the numbing. Chaos is an understatement when describing how numbed out to my life I was.
In 2003, I came to live in Michigan for the summer and, unknowingly at first, begin deep layers of healing. I discovered my first yoga class and remember thinking how I’d be good at this stretchy stuff because of my dance background. My surface-level thinking opened the door to what my body and soul were craving – attention and space to BEING.
“What you seek is seeking you.”Rumi
After a few weeks, I started to replace the emptiness and nightly drinking with Ashtanga Yoga and tea. The classes were held by candlelight in the back of a dark gym. It was a perfect place to hide my tears as I processed undigested pain in my body, one breath at a time. Deep healing began as I stopped running and instead turned toward the pain, meeting it with an intense body practice.
What is your body craving, right now?
A walk around the block, strength training, Tai Chi, running, yoga, tennis, Qigong, dance….
How do you know what you need most, right now?
Symbolism is the language of the soul, and one direct access point to our soul’s communication is through our bodies. Stay still, close your eyes, turn your attention inward, and ask yourself “what do I need most right now?” Then listen deeply (and symbolically) to the response. The answer may come in subtle ways, but it will come.
Can you make the decision for, and commitment to, a daily body practice?
When we plant a seed and consistently show up for that seed to grow, it becomes a habit. We direct our thoughts to move our energy and breath. Our body experiences the effects.
There is a warm light inside you. Allow your attention to ride your breath and to meet yourself where your light illuminates your truth.
Your truth runs like rivers through the darkness. By turning down the mental chatter and grounding into your body, your attunement to your interior becomes razor sharp and gives your heart space to be heard.
In the sweetest devotion to illuminating darkness, you realize you are capable at any time of doing what you dream of. Your body holds secret codes that assist you in uncovering your inner treasure. Trust it.
Pam Johnson is a Life Leadership Coach + Facilitator who helps individuals make sense of their reality (themselves, their team – even their families) using Enneagram and archetypal wisdom. Pam has been featured in the “Give Love” documentary, “Journey Forward” podcast and “Your Healthy Living Radio Show” which highlights her signature program, SoulPATH – the intersection where ego + soul meet – activating awakened + alive access to your whole self. She deeply believes in the experience of healing, in the phenomenon of transformation, the existence of grace and the profound difference that every single human being can make in this world. Pam lives in the Bay Area with her husband and son.