As a child I was a devout Catholic. I aspired to be a nun and to gain the status of favourite grandchild I’d clunk my rosary beads around all day, had an altar in my bedroom and gave up every vice imaginable (to an eight-year-old) for Lent. By the time I went to a Church of England grammar school I’d dropped my earlier career ambition but it still felt like I had a “get out of jail free card” over my peers meaning I could be a selfish little shit and behave abominably as I could go and confess all of my sins in a little wooden box and leave them behind.
Then just like that I lost my faith. I stopped believing as teenage angst kicked in. I couldn’t believe that a loving God existed when I felt so miserable along with having spots, psoriasis and alopecia which all felt like major obstacles in the way of ever getting a boyfriend.
Along came alcohol and drugs to fill the hole in me that used to be met by religion. Like my previous faith in the divine those early days of drinking made me feel invincible, nothing could stop me - I was the epitome of awesomeness. Of course this new found confidence didn’t last for long and if God works in mysterious ways, alcohol was unfathomable.
Some years later as I began to fall in love with my yoga practice I started to kiss the angsty teen goodbye as relearned how to let go a little, relax and believe that maybe things would turn out okay. In recovery there is a phrase let go and let God which still makes me wince a little but I get it now - it’s about faith and trust. A belief that I can let go of trying to be in the driving seat all the time and trust that there is a plan unfolding for me - the universe, God whatever - it doesn’t really matter who.
The ancient yogis believed that a deep breath connected us to the divine, something bigger than us and each day as I begin my yoga practice the first exhale is that constant invitation to let go and surrender to way things are. Let go of my attachment to wanting things to be the way I want them to be and trust that maybe there’s a bigger plan.
Some days over lockdown I felt like giving in so I started praying again. Prayers of gratitude, asking for what I want, asking for help. I’m not sure if anyone is really listening but it really helps. Saying out loud what I’m scared of, grateful for or need help allows me to surrender to what is. It’s way better than waking up after being arrested or wondering how I got home without my bag on a drunken night out. These are my prayers - I pray that you’re happy, I pray that you‘re well, I pray that I’ll see some of your beautiful faces in a yoga class with me.
So far I've done all right.
I haven't gossipped,
haven't lost my temper,
haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent.
I'm really glad about that.
But in a few minutes, God,
I'm going to get out of bed.
And from then on,
I'm going to need a lot more help.