I know the power of yoga to help heal the emotional wounds inflicted by a society which often fosters and actively encourages discrimination, harassment and even violence against those who differ from the “norm”. For many years, I was tormented by bullies, ignored, harassed and even teased by teachers, as well as shunned in people of faith who were supposed to be practicing compassion. It seemed like from day one I was always, in one way or another, being told that there was something wrong with me for being gay. Over time, that notion set in deeply to the point that I held a lot of self-loathing, anger and isolation. The burden was so heavy that I’m quite impressed with myself that I never gave in to temptations of suicide.
As I entered my adult years, I still held onto much of that shame, self-hatred and isolation. I began to dive head-first into the world of drugs and alcohol to help cope with the pain but that only led to more problems. I stayed there for almost 15 years. Finally, I began to wake up, so to speak. I just knew that I’d had enough of living in fear, shame and sorrow. I knew I had to somehow arise out of the ashes and emerge into a new existence. In fact, I never really felt that I’d actually lived life; I’d only existed in the world. I relied heavily on my spiritual nature to guide me to where I needed to be. I let go of the drugs and alcohol and simply went to where my Heart led me to be. The “where” was North Main Yoga and the “who” was Janice Batson, a wonderful yoga teacher and good friend. That was my first yoga experience and I’ll never forget it. I almost instantly felt the healing properties of yoga and knew right then that’d I’d found something very unique.
Over the past 3 years, yoga’s transformative properties have allowed me to vastly improve the way in which I view my self and the world around me. I’ve worked through many layers of pain, have found forgiveness and have learned to practice peace. I can’t fully describe the wonders of this path as it’s truly meant to be lived, not simply spoken of.
Sadly, the cycle of destruction I went through continues for many gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered people (GLBT) and it is my fervent wish that my brothers and sisters find peace and never learn to hate themselves as I did. The pain of those tormented is quite real and I believe yoga and meditation can help guide us all towards peace. We can, through social, political and economic action, bring about external change. However, we must also take care of what’s inside and learn to heal our own Hearts and minds. I am by no means insinuating that we’re all a group of emotionally damaged, blubbering cry-babies. In fact, some of my GLBT friends are perhaps the most mentally strong and emotionally sound people I’ve ever encountered. The point is that this type of emotional destruction has been going on for way too long and through the practice of peace I intend to help bring it to a halt. GLBT suicide rates seem to increase every year and no one, absolutely no one, deserves to suffer for being different. This is something we must all strive to bring into reality.
If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered and are in need of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing, give yoga a try. My guess is it will help. It helped me on many levels and I hope it will do the same for you. If you know a GLBT person who needs this type of healing, please mention yoga as a possible catalyst for positive change. Lastly, please know that Greenville Yoga fully welcomes the GLBT community and we invite you to join us on this Path of Peace.
May you all be well and happy.