Words by Rhyannon Styles (She/Her) Artwork by Dani
The catalyst to spiritually into my life was the result of my decision to transition.
It was the last weekend of March in 2012 that the yoga mat I’d recently won through an eBay auction arrived on my doorstep. I remember it vividly. It was bright blue. The colour of clear skies and expansive oceans. It represented hope and serenity.
By this point in my life, I was beginning to accept the widely known notion that yoga and other spiritual practices are healthy and positive additions to life.
To be honest, though, it was a huge leap. I'd grown up in a rural low-income household with a single mum. We didn’t have the luxury of wellness. Or the awareness that simple spiritual practices could improve our life. I never heard anyone talk about spirituality in a way that didn’t sound dated.
Like many of my friends, I didn’t grasp that until I needed to. The catalyst to incorporating yoga and spirituality into my life was the result of my decision to transition.
You see, before the yoga mat arrived, I was too preoccupied with class A’s and drowning myself in alcohol to find the time to stop and breathe. It was only when I began to transition and decided to stop dedicating my weekends to the pursuit of hedonistic oblivion, that I stepped onto the matt with any conviction.
This means I show up. I show up for myself and others. I offer help to those that need it. I'm there if someone needs me. What keeps me spiritual is my connection with other people.
It was timely really, especially when navigating the early years of my gender transition.
Yoga and meditation became my secret weapon. They are two practices that grounded me, supported me and allowed me to sit with myself - by myself - and process my life.
Later that year I spent ten glorious days over the Xmas holidays on a Buddhist retreat, tucked away in the Herefordshire countryside. It was literally the best ten days of my life. I’d never experienced such peace.
My transition had connected my body to my brain, a nd as a result of that, I connected to something larger than myself. In the past I’d always been very self-serving, I was incredibly self-aware and self-centred with extremely low self-esteem. I was wrapped up in my own drama and heavily invested in the opposite of anything spiritual. I judged everyone as I judged myself, there was no kindness or humility to be found.
With the help of sobriety, yoga, meditation and the awareness of spirituality, gradually things began to change. Luckily I’d found recovery and twelve steps just at the right time. Now I have daily practices which allow me to maintain spiritual wellness.
This means I show up. I show up for myself and others. I offer help to those that need it. I'm there if someone needs me.
What keeps me spiritual is my connection with other people. What keeps me well is my dedication and believe in those practices.
As a result, I’ve transcended everything beyond my wildest dreams.
Rhyannon Styles is an artist, writer, performer and wellness practitioner. She offers gong baths and meditation around Berlin and online