Name: Heather Jefferson
Location: Clarksville, Maryland, USA
Occupation: Editor/Co-Owner of The Still Point Yoga
I awaken in the early morning, rested, with a feeling of hope and peace. As I lie in bed before rising, I ponder all of my blessings: a loving, adorable husband, two beautiful, healthy, sweet daughters, an at-home editing job that allows me to be a present and balanced mother, a partnership at a thriving yoga studio where I get to share my passion, a beloved sister, supportive, loving friends, my health, and my breath.
Later, as I walk my dog, I am overwhelmed by the beauty around me: the swaying leaves, laughing children, the fresh possibility of each new day. I am joyful, calm, and grounded as I go about my day, working, loving, doing yoga, breathing, accepting, and being thankful. But I wasn’t always this way.
Two years ago, I started a daily yoga practice to relieve debilitating anxiety. Every day that I step onto my mat, yoga teaches me to let go and quietly listen to the wisdom of my inner voice. It teaches me to breathe and to trust. It teaches me that positive thoughts create a positive reality. It teaches me to take what I learn on my mat, off of the mat and into my life, where I can create a joyful and beautiful life.
Now that I possess a calm mind and an open heart, and now that I have taken responsibility for my own joy, it is uncomfortable for me to remember and describe the years that I allowed myself to be a victim—a victim of my mother’s mental health diseases. But when I recall the decades that I suffered from anxiety, low self-esteem, narcissism, and ruminating thoughts, I do think of my mother and the power I allowed her to have over me.
Briefly, with forgiveness and acceptance, my mother’s needs were not met as a child. Subsequently, her approach to mothering was loving, but self-oriented, controlling, and without boundaries. She often told my sister and me how much she had loved us when we were small children—without voices of our own. As an older child, I worried about my parents getting divorced—there was great anger and great silence in our home. She once told me that I was going to cause their divorce.
My mother suffers from depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder. She taught me many things while I lived with her: to judge the rich, to worry, to focus on the negative, to catastrophize, to think in black and white, to fear, to befriend people who need to be fixed, to worry about the future, to deny God, to gossip, to find the worst in people, to fear being out of control, and to put her needs before my own. My role in our family was to take care of my mother’s emotional needs—a job left over from her childhood, a job I would hold until I was 45-years old. Yoga helped me to finally let go and find my way to wholeness and peace.
After I left my mother’s home, I earned a college degree, started my career, met and married a profoundly loving and supportive husband, bought a house, gave birth to two darling daughters, and dedicated my life to being a loving, supportive mother. Our sweet family thrived, but inside I battled negative thoughts, guilt, insecurities, and self-doubt, and I stewed in my anger toward my mother—for her mistakes in my youth, for her persistence in making me her caregiver, for her victim-hood—ironically, the very same role I had assumed.
Yoga teaches that, like the lotus flower, darkness can lead to healing, transformation, and light. The months when anxiety controlled my life were some of the darkest, loneliest days of my life, but I can now look back and see that they were a necessary part of my journey. And I am thankful for those months because they brought me to yoga, to the light, where I found the ability to finally live in the present, not angry at my mother; to respond versus react, at peace instead of anxious; to trust and allow, rather than control from fear; to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, bringing positive energy to everything I do; to be mindful and grateful, not filled with doubt; to breathe and find miracles.
Heather lives near Baltimore, Maryland, with her darling husband, two beautiful red-headed daughters, and the cutest dachshund in the world. She is a freelance editor, a thankful co-owner of The Still Point Yoga, and a dedicated yogi. She will begin teacher training in 2013 and shares her love of yoga every day with anyone who is open to hearing about the magic of yoga.
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