THAT STARTED EVERYTHING
BY ERIC WALRABENSTEIN
y own stress nightmare started back in October of 1980, and little did I know that it was to last 15 years.
It was a crisp autumn day. I was walking to my car in a darkened corner of a public parking garage in Sacramento, California. I heard them first.
"Hey you!" The deep voice barked behind me. It echoed.
I ignored it and kept walking.
Then the sound of footsteps running. As soon as I turned, a black gloved fist met my left cheek. Hard. Then another. Then another and down I went.
I looked up and saw a circle of faces looking down at me. "Get up!" I was ordered.
"Get up!" Again commanded the one with the black gloves and I slowly made my way to standing. "Now, your wallet." He shouted.
I don't know why, but I just stood there. Surrounded. Stunned. And that's when I saw the knife.
It wasn't black glove, but another guy. This one's smaller but stout, you know, like a fireplug. He was off to my right, he steps forward and places one hand on my shoulder, and the other holds the point of the blade up to my throat. He leans in and says, quietly, "you want some of this?" "Wallet! Black glove shouts so close the acrid stench of his breath fills my nostrils.
I reach back, took my wallet out and held it up. Black glove snatches it.
"That wasn't so hard, was it?" He says and nods to the guy with a knife. "Let's go!"
And with that, the pack sprints to the stairwell, and they're gone.
As attacks go, it wasn't really all that bad. I was left with my left eye, crimson purple together with a collection of aches and bruises, so I got off pretty light—or so I thought.
The truth was the attack would haunt me for years.
From that point forward, dark and closed spaces would send me into a low grade panic, and people who dressed or looked like my attackers stirred up a powerful sense of anxiety in me. For no reason at all, I would find myself wracked with angst or fear or even anger in the most unlikely of places.
It took years before I really understood what was going on, but once I did, I dove in trying to find a way to heal.
At first through traditional means more rest, more exercise, then therapy, and more therapy.
It all helped to a degree, but I always felt like I would soon slip back into the familiar patterns of anxiety and frustration and exhaustion.
It wasn't until I began to explore the ancient mind-body wisdom from many of the great spiritual traditions that I felt like I began to truly heal.
So I dove in. Deep.
I took classes at the local Zen center.
I checked myself into various meditation retreats and intensives.
I enrolled in a two year long yoga teacher training program—the first of several.
I began voraciously consuming the teachings of the ancient meditation masters.
And, of course, I studied the nervous system, stress responses, yogic psychology, and mindfulness-based stress reduction. And more.
It was through all of this study, practice, and experimentation, that I was able to bring my nervous system back into balance and finally feel like I was back to my old happy and energetic self.
But even more importantly, it was this struggle, my successes and my failures and my progress and my backsliding that ultimately enabled me to create a proven, one-of-a-kind mind-body system that has since helped thousands around the globe.
In the strangest twist of fate, that beating I took so many years ago has turned out to be one of the greatest gifts of my life.
Eric Walrabenstein is a best-selling author, ordained Yogacharya, and nationally-renowned educator in the fields of yoga and mind-body wellness. His work focuses on helping people to practically apply the lesser-known aspects of yoga and mindfulness to solve some of the most urgent and immediate problems of our time.
He is the founder of Yoga Pura, one of Arizona’s largest yoga wellness centers, the creator of the BOOTSTRAP Yoga System developed for the U.S. military, and the creator of the BrightLife Method, a series of program to help people great ever greater measures of internal self mastery.
Eric's work has been widely featured in the media including on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Success magazine, Yoga Journal, and beyond. Learn more at www.EricWal.com.
Listen to Eric's Podcast, This Perfect Moment here.