Love’s all that makes sense
Recently I went to my first book signing, invited by my brother Jeffery, who designed the book cover. The event was not what I expected; it was more.
The only examples of a book signing I had seen had come from TV, where the author sits at a table, literally signing books. Thus, I felt no sense of urgency to arrive at 3 p.m., when the event was to start, as long as I got there before 6, when it was to end.
I arrived around 4:30 to find one of the authors, Anika Francis, standing before the group, engaged in a question-and-answer session. I had missed her discussion about the memoir itself, and I was upset that I had.
This woman oozed energy and positivity, appropriate since the book signing was in a yoga studio.
She was saying those with mental illness need love, that they are still human beings.
The book, called “Love’s All That Makes Sense,” is Anika’s story growing up with a mother diagnosed with schizophrenia. Actually, it’s Anika’s and mother Sakeenah’s stories woven into one.
As I listened to Anika, I wondered, though, if the book’s target audience was those dealing with family with mental illness or if it targeted everyone, even me. She was talking more about her journey through the struggle and how it had shaped her than about her mother’s schizophrenia. (Maybe I just missed that part of the discussion, but I think I came at the right time to hear the part most relevant to me.)
She challenged each of us to clean out our emotional junk closet. And we all have emotional junk closets.
“You have to be bold enough to look into the mirror of self,” Anika said. “When you don’t deal with your stuff, you just keep lugging it around, and it gets heavy.”
The work is hard, she said, and we must be willing to do the work, to go deep, to do the real work.
“Open the door, and get rid of it,” Anika said. “Don’t just look at the mess.”
That space, the space created after you do the work, after you clean out the baggage, can be a beautiful place, she said.
Writing the book took years, including a leave of absence from work, all time well-spent, she said, thankful for the childhood experiences, as they have helped her become the person she is today.
Writing the book, she said, helped her learn the importance of taking the lessons from the past without staying in the past.
That’s tough. We tend to dwell on the past rather than learn from it and let it go.
Then, she related that message to yoga, a concept I found fascinating. Yoga, she said, has helped her see her story but from a distance, to be with the things that come up without staying in them.
I’ve done yoga and find it therapeutic, but I really had not considered how yoga could help heal the soul.
This is my interpretation of what Anika said: When we do a yoga pose, we’re encouraged relax into the pose, rather than force ourselves to do a pose. We can stretch our limits slowly and without pain by relaxing and focusing on breathing, by being in the moment.
Just as yoga helps us work through all levels – physical, emotional, psychological – cleaning our emotional junk closets can do the same, she said.
“We all have stuff, and we can all heal from that stuff,” Anika said. “It’s not what happens to you in life; it’s how you deal with it afterward.”
She encouraged each of us to peel back the layers of our complex selves to clearly see who we are, and to be honest about what we see.
And, we have to have the courage and strength to love ourselves as we delve into our emotional closet, as love’s all that makes sense.
- Studies Confirm Benefits of Yoga for Mental Illness and Affective Disorders (journeywhirl.wordpress.com)
- Yoga Poses to Improve Concentration (healthylifestylesliving.wordpress.com)