It was one of those days. The kind of day that you start out thinking will be uneventful, but then life plays its own hand. And you quickly realize that you have little control over the outcome of the events of the day that was dealt.

I definitely had no control over the day, for the events happening around me were not my own. I was merely an observer. At best, a sounding board. Some of the events are not my stories to share. But they involve the typical emotions that human beings feel at some point in their lives: chaos, defeat, uncertainty, failure, worry, stress, sadness, and pain. These emotions set the tone for the day, and by the end of my day, I needed to decompress. Maybe it was for my own sanity. Maybe it was for the people around me. Whatever the reason, and whoever it was for, I needed to reset my equilibrium. We all need that at times. My workouts help me to hit my emotional reset button. And yoga is the best way for me to achieve mental and physical balance. And so, with a Lululemon bag full of emotions, I headed out the door to find my “inner bliss.”

I entered the quiet room where I knew no one. And that’s what I wanted – quiet, peaceful anonymity. Just me, my mat, the sound of my own breath, the challenge of each pose, and the rhythm of the playlist to guide every movement of my body. The air in the room matched the heat of the summer day. As I moved from one challenging position to another, I could feel my muscles shake, and my brain fought my body’s desire to surrender and release myself from each pose. But I couldn’t quit, no matter how difficult or painful the challenge felt. As the hourlong class began to tick away, I could feel that my yoga practice was working! My mind began to ease and my body was feeling great! We were nearing the end of class when the instructor’s perfect playlist transitioned into an acoustic version of James Taylor singing “You’ve Got a Friend.” I was in the zone. I was at peace. And then I heard something. I thought I knew what it was, but I wasn’t certain at first because I’d never heard this sound in a yoga class before. And the sound wasn’t stopping. It got louder and louder. And it overtook the room. It was the voice of a man. He was crying. But not a quiet cry. He was sobbing. Almost uncontrollably. He released loud gasps, which sounded as if he was trying to catch his breath. It the quiet of a room filled with strangers, this man unleashed the sounds of despair. I know those feelings, I’ve experienced them before. But I’ve never heard them quite like this from another human being. And while for a moment I thought it felt uncomfortable, my heart quickly felt heavy for this stranger. He was in pain. Terrible pain.

Had he lost his mother? His father? Maybe a child or a friend? Was he sick? Was someone he loved dying? What happened that brought this man to his knees? What was his story? What caused him to release the sounds of a hellish pain? I didn’t know the answer.

When the class was over, I rolled up my mat and glanced in his direction. His back was facing me and his face was hiding in his hands. For a moment, I thought about walking over to him. But what would I say? Was it my place to rest my hand on his shoulder and quietly whisper, “You must be in pain. I’m sorry.” Would I want a complete stranger to say that to me if I just lost my shit in a quiet yoga studio? I decided to give him privacy. Sometimes, when we’re in pain, the best therapy is to be quiet and alone with our thoughts.

As I drove home that evening and sat alone to write this blog, I thought back to the painful times in my life when I felt shame, worthlessness, and sadness. A good friend of mine used to text me heartfelt quotes when she thought I needed a little positivity in my life. One of those quotes stood out to me. I held onto it knowing that the simple words would be useful again because of their powerful message:

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy.”

We can carry around a lot of heavy baggage in our lives; the pain of a great loss, failed relationships, depleted bank accounts, broken careers, grudges from the past, uncertainty about our future, and a lot of other crap. But at some point, we need to release these things because they’re just too damn heavy to lug around.

Pain. It can be a crippling emotion. But when the time is right, we need to release it; and free ourselves from the weight that it places upon us. Whether you release pieces of your pain with loud cries, or you reach out to someone who will help you carry your load. One day, you will find it necessary to let your pain go.