How are you? (Really.)

Mindfulness not only makes it possible to survey our internal landscape with compassion and curiosity but can also actively steer us in the right direction for self-care.
Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

When I walked into yoga this afternoon, my teacher stood in front of my mat and asked, “How are you?”

“I’m okay,” I responded: the truth, after a gruelingly challenging Monday I some how made it through. “How are you?”

“Okay,” she responded as if mulling it over. “You’re like, ‘I made it. I’m here.'”

Inhale. Exhale. Exhale again.

This morning, I experienced a series of unfortunate events that I somehow made it through. My story of growing up on OM is a story colored darkly with bodily trauma, and painted over with a sheen of brightly-colored emotional recovery. This morning’s events triggered those feelings of trauma…and I made it through those moments, to a 5:15pm yoga class and more.

Today was one of those days when I realized the vitality of providing an honest response to the question, “How are you?” Like a reflex, reply, “Good,” even – and almost especially – when we’re not. But our vocabulary contains more words for a reason. We feel more things than “good.” And even though it might seem like people are asking that question as a courtesy, that question is also an opportunity. An opportunity to check in, to respond, to pause, to regulate. More than that, when we respond honestly – and this my yoga teacher from this afternoon taught me – we become the kinds of people that others feel comfortable responding honestly to.

So, how are you?

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