Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Listen to Your Body

Monday, October 1, 2012
Posted By: 
Melissa Calmes

Today, we welcome guest blogger, Melissa Calmes, who lost her husband to brain cancer in March 2012. She lives in on the North Side of the city with her dog, Lila. Melissa blogs regularly about her loss and how yoga has helped her at

Yoga has helped me tremendously this past year. I started practicing yoga about eight years ago but began my dedicated daily practice in 2011. Even as I was caring for Matt when he was very ill, I still tried to get out of the house for an hour to take a class. I enjoy the physical demands of yoga but I have also started to learn more about the philosophy and spiritual aspects of the practice. One of my favorite parts of class is the introduction; typically the Instructor gives a little story or anecdote so students can set an intention for class. The stories and intentions always seem to have meaning and relevance in my life. Some days, the intention stops me in my tracks and changes the whole perspective of my day. Many of the Instructor’s insight into the physical practice are relatable to everyday life as well. Throughout class, the Instructor invites you to listen to your body, stating that it is your class and your practice so do what feels good to you. If a pose does not feel right on a particular day or you just need to lie down, to do so.

I have been trying to take this idea of “listening to your body” off the mat into my life. For the past few weeks, I have been focusing on listening to my body or my natural instinct. Sounds so simple right? Hardly. Especially when you are tittering between the person you used to be, the widow that you are, and the new person that will emerge from a terrible tragedy. All of these different persona’s have their own ideas of what you should be doing and it can be complicated to untangle them all and decide which is the best path right now. Add some friends’ and family’s opinions in with that and it gets even more messy. I spent the past month running around every weekend to make every single event, appointment, and get together and I ended up exhausted and distraught.

Finally, I said enough is enough, I need to listen to my body in my life just like I do in yoga calls. Now, there wasn’t anyone forcing me to attend any of these events and if there was anyone to blame it was me. There was some guilt at times from others but mostly from myself. I simply can’t hang anymore. After realizing this, I thought to myself, when will I ever get back to when I could? Weekends used to be jam packed. I remember running around the house trying to get everything done, Matt inviting me to just sit down for a minute and watch the game with him. Then I thought, I don’t want to be that person anymore! I don’t have to go to EVERYTHING! Looking back, I don’t regret not getting to all my chores, I regret not sitting down to watch the game with Matt. Our culture has turned into one that simply can’t say “No”. How many times do we hear friends and family complaining about commitments, weddings, birthday day parties. I am now focusing on only committing to activities and events that I want to attend and that will help me heal in this grief journey.

In a support group I attended, the widows were encouraged to be selfish. I have heard this many times outside of the support group as well. It again seems simple but it is not. We learn from a very early age not to be selfish so it’s hard to make that shift. I am not saying I am a completely self-less person but it is a shift nonetheless. Saying no to a party, charity event, or whatever it might be seems selfish. I feel like I need to participate in all these things to be a supportive person to my friends and family. But I realize that I do need to be selfish or I am just not going to get through this. And now, I am critically thinking about the commitments I make and really asking myself what does my gut tell me and from the selfish perspective, how will this benefit me? I have made some progress the past couple weeks and I am feeling better and more relaxed as I continue to follow this natural path. This past weekend, I was invited to a get together that I knew would be difficult for many reasons. I had originally accepted the invitation but then decided against it. I emailed the caring person that had invited me and shared how I was feeling. She completely understood and we made plans to get together in a less emotionally charged setting. It’s a small step but I am proud of myself for listening to my body and realizing what was best for me.


find a quiet place. sit down on a tatami mat. relax. sthiagrten your shoulders and back. place your hands on your lap or knees. close your eyes. breathe. listen to your surroundings calmly. sound of birds. breeze. just do so and you'll feel energized.

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