“The demons hate fresh air.”
This weekend I attended a yoga workshop with the fabulous and hilarious Kathryn Budig. It was entitled “how to be unf*ckwithable”, and through the class we worked with ways to handle the things that f*ck with us, including movement and breath.
We wrote down the things that were f*cking with us, and at the end of the practice, we got up, a few participants at a time, said aloud the thing that was bothering us so much, and ripping up the paper to put into the center of a circle.
It was powerful.
Kathryn said that there is power in saying allowed what’s messing with you. I was even more amazed at the power of saying it in front of others.
While everyone had a unique flavor of what difficult situations they’re working through, there were a lot of similarities. Uncertainty, fear, anxiety, perfectionism, control, and sadness showed up again and again. Hearing everyone voice their difficulties, I remembered that our individual problems are not so individual. When we hurt, it’s not a new hurt. Other people have felt similarly. Yes, it may be new to us, and definitely our hurt is unique, but we are also not alone.
This practice made me think of one of my favorite lessons from writer/artist Austin Kleon: “The demons hate fresh air.” This quote means that when you air out the fears, anxieties and worries, they become less powerful.
In our own brain, left to our own devices, our suffering can become massive. (It psychology talk, it’s call rumination). But when we communicate our suffering, we start to bring perspective to the situation.
I was working with a client last week who is nervous about experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety after she gives birth. We ended up talking about this concept of the demons hating fresh air. We discussed that voicing what’s happening in her brain, whether it’s fatigue, anger, or fear will help her overcome them. If she doesn’t voice her feelings, there’s no way her partner will know how to help her. And in voicing what’s happening, she can actually think about the solutions, rather than getting caught in a loop of sadness.
What demons have been stuck in your closet? Is it time to voice them aloud? Is there a safe space where you can voice them to someone? Voicing them might not fix the situation (in fact, it probably wont), but in voicing them, you can exist alongside the sadness, rather than being trapped with it.
I’ll leave you with a Buddhist meditation that Kathryn showed us in the workshop. There are two different ways of experiencing this meditation, so use the one that resonates with you.
The first way: Sit in a comfortable seat, eyes closed or at a soft gaze. As you inhale, say to yourself “I am experiencing suffering.” As you exhale, say to yourself “Everyone suffers.” Stay with this breath for 10-20 rounds.
The second way: Sit in a comfortable seat, eyes closed or at a soft gaze. As you inhale, breathe in the feeling of suffering, anxiety, or sadness that you feel. On the exhale, breathe out compassion, kindness, and healing to yourself and all people experiencing this suffering and sadness. Repeat for 10-20 rounds.
The demons hate fresh air. Let them out.
Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,