Millstones for Happiness
This morning, I met a friend for a yoga class. She was not in a happy or even a good mood. Crossing her arms, she glowered at the classroom before throwing a mat onto the floor. Anger and frustration radiated from my friend as we took our seated staff poses.
For the next hour, the instructor led our class through a variety of restorative yoga poses from child’s pose to downward dog and from gate to baby cobra and finishing with corpse pose meditation.
After yoga class, it was easy to see that my friend’s energy had shifted dramatically – she was smiling.
I asked, “How are you feeling?”
“I was super angry and now I’m not,” she smiled. “I tried to pick the anger back up and get mad again, but I can’t… I’m too,” she sighed, “happy.”
Pick It Up Again
That phrase caught my attention. “Pick it up again.”
A perfect way to describe how sometimes we choose to be angry with someone or something. What we don’t realize is that we are literally CHOOSING to be that way. We are picking up the anger and lugging it around with us.
I was my own worst enemy because, for a long time, I carried A LOT of anger and resentment and pain. Each day I woke, and I chose to be angry, resentful, and in pain. I chose to carry those millstones around my neck and let them pull me down into the deep dark waters of depression. I allowed them to prevent me from living.
After much time spent in moving meditation, I came to the realization that I didn’t need to carry those stones. That indeed they were not my weight to bear. That was the day I set the anger, resentment, and pain down and walked away from them.
That day, I forgave myself for someone’s trespasses against me. I realized that I had to forgive myself so that I could free myself and move on with my life.
No one has the power to wave a magic wand and forgive someone else – the only person you can truly forgive is yourself.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
Anger, resentment, pain, frustrations – those were emotions I was choosing to relive. The trespass happened. It was in my past but I was choosing to relive it day after day after day. I was allowing it to dictate my life by preventing me from living my life.
When I started to feel myself turning towards sinking into the dark waters of depression, I asked myself one simple question, “Is this my weight to bear?”
If the answer was no, then I looked in the mirror and told myself, “This is not your millstone. Sit it down and walk away from it.” I pictured myself sitting down a millstone (or five) and walking away. I know this sounds goofy but it worked.
If the answer was yes, then I asked, “Then what action can I take to alleviate, repair, restore?” Whatever the first answer was, I did. One day the answer was, “Take yourself to a movie. Be kind to yourself.” Another time the answer was, “Paint a heron.” I learned to not question the answers that came but to trust the answer would fulfill some part of me that needed to be restored or repaired. Little by little, I rebuilt myself.
Not every day was perfect, but over time and with practice I was able to free myself from a lot of other people’s millstones.
What Millstones Do You Carry?
Think right now of what millstones you are carrying that aren’t yours.
Maybe someone stole from you and you are angry about it. Maybe someone lied to you and you are hurt that they sacrificed your faith in them. Maybe someone physically or emotionally hurt you and you are mad at them.
All emotions are valid.
However, you must take action to move on, to live your life.
You can decide to not carry their millstone. You can set it down. You can walk away from it.
Once you realize you are choosing to experience the pain, anger, frustration, or hurt and that you can choose to not relive those emotions, you can be like my friend after yoga class – you can choose to not pick it back up again.
You can choose to live and be…happy.