25 October 2011

"Crash into me" - Your Oversized, Depressed Beanbag Chair.

There are some days that if feels so good to give in.  Give in to sadness, give in to the feeling of being overwhelmed, that sense of enormity beyond control.  Rather than fight it, I just sink into it, like a familiar, albeit sad, friend.  Like an over-sized empathetic hug.  I have rituals for days like these; playlists that are played somewhat compulsively, drinks that are sipped nostalgically, feelings that escape finally.

It's in these last motions though, that I also sense release.  Some days.  There are certainly days when sadness breeds sadness; tears only detail more tears.  But, days like today, the rituals - including the ritual sadness - moves me to a place beyond habitual depression.  I am moved to something that resembles introspection.  In fact, a very good debate could convince me entirely that these days are reasonable and necessary. The problem is that I feel as though I'm giving in to something.  Is it a problem, though, if I feel better by the end of the day?  Is it a problem if it takes a few days to get out of?  These are answers I don't have.

The other problem lies in the idea that I seek discomfort for myself.  Am I more comfortable with being miserable than I am happy?  Honestly, when I'm happy, I feel like I'm either overlooking something or am unreasonably elated, both of which lead me to not only feel guilty for feeling happy, but also to seek ways, I think, in which to destroy those feelings.  I listen to sad songs, love and loss and loss and…loss, and I still identify with them, even though I am lucky enough to have found and married the most compassionate, devoted, understanding partner a person could have.  And, I'm even in love with him, too, so there's not any disagreement on my end - he's a gem.  We're in love.  I'm happy - truly happy in our relationship.  Outside of that, in my own-ness, I think I just identify more with misery and sadness than I do with happiness.  Which is miserable, in and of itself, to admit.  On the bright side, then, this admission should suit me just fine.

But it doesn't.  It just makes me wonder if I'm capable of seeking meaningful happiness and adhering to it.  I've had the argument with Tim that romantic sentiment should be spontaneous and if we talk about it - as in, "I wish you would be more spontaneous" - it is the end of the very thing I'm asking for.  Telling someone to plan spontaneity is absurd.  So there's this dance around a subject that is vitally important to me, and yet, I have to pretend I am not thinking about it and actually strive not to dwell on it.  Only then do Tim's actions come off as spontaneous to me.  My happiness seems to be the same kind of waltz with myself - I pretend that I don't notice I enjoy misery more and simultaneously try not to focus on happiness so that when, and if, it does happen, it feels organic; it lasts.  Except, it doesn't ever last.  And giving in feels so damn good.

If anything, my yoga practice has mellowed this ridiculous limbo.  I don't feel as low now as I can remember feeling in the past.  I can remember nights when my roommate would come home to me sitting in the dark, listening to Damien Rice poetically cursing along to his songs in various minor keys.  I feel a visceral depression from that moment.  The same sense-memory as when I remember driving through the town in which I grew up, for hours on end, letting all the emotion in my head sink down into my chest and then rise again, up through my tears.  I can feel this.  And, yet, this sadness doesn't feel as bad as that sadness, right now.  Is that progress?  How depressing.  And, not in an enjoyable way, at all.

What terrifies me is my lack of understanding and - without shock - lack of control of this situation.  In the aforementioned situations, those darkest moments seemed to permeate my life like some sort of emotional cancer, reaching their knubby little fingers out into all aspects of my life until they had seized all my potential; grasping every single facet of my life, wringing them out until I was just a puddle on the floor, completely ruined.  This is what terrifies me.  What if I'm feeling the first pre-shocks of my big emotional earthquake - can I prevent it?  I can feel it seeping in; but maybe that's just emotion, not emotional ruin.  Or, I'll be piecing myself back out of the ruins in a few months' time.  This, again, is not something I can take solace in.

For now, though, I can take solace in empathetic renderings of emotion set to music.  Yep.  Crying along to love songs.  Bring it on John Mayer.  Let me have it Adele.  What do you even know, Norah Jones?  Ok, so my love songs are all adult contemporary - Contemporary Adults, it would seem, have a lot of repressed emotion.  I am happy to sing along to their anthems, weep my sobs, and see if I can't just sympathize my way out of this situation.  (When does that not help, by the way?)

Let the tears fall.

Mumford & Sons "Timshel"

Cold is the water
It freezes your already cold mind
Already cold, cold mind
And death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And you are the mother
The mother of your baby child
The one to whom you gave life
And you have your choices
And these are what make man great
His ladder to the stars

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand

And I will tell the night
Whisper, "Lose your sight"
But I can't move the mountains for you

12 April 2011

Persevering Practice

I've mentioned before how much I struggle with handstand.  It's a frustrating pose for me; I feel like I should be able to kick up lightly and easily.  When I go to attempt it, though, I find a different reality.  I'm scared, anxious, and feel like there are two bricks tied to my ankles.  Sometimes, I feel like it will never happen.  Although, at some point, it did happen.  I was getting up more and more easily into handstand, and my practice was really soaring.

Then, I dropped off the face of the yoga planet.  The holidays came around, family issues came around, 15 extra pounds came around, and I retreated into a steady existence of pajamas and Netflix TV on demand.  Every time I thought, "I should really get my heinie onto a yoga mat," I could come up with a thousand reasons not to, not the least of which was my impending completion of my teacher training.  I had all kinds of ideas about what a Yoga Teacher was supposed to be - I didn't live up to any of my expectations.  A yoga teacher is effortlessly calm, naturally beautiful, startlingly wise - why didn't I feel any of these things? And, after your first training, aren't you supposed to feel ready to teach anyone and everyone immediately? I'm sure several people can answer yes to feeling that way and to the descriptions above, too.  But, for me, I had to realize that I hardly ever "feel ready" in any situation; that doesn't mean I'm not, though.  I think preparedness is always evolving.  There's no way to know everything about everything, no way to prepare for every situation - that doesn't mean I'm not ready to go share what I do know and keep learning.

I still continue to look for ways to boost my knowledge, getting my practice and my teaching up to speed.  One of my husband's favorite ideas is about how someone has to put in 10,000 hours of effort before they become an expert at what they're doing.  The idea being, there is no quick fix nor is there automatic genius.  Even Einstein didn't come up with E=MC2 right out of the womb.  The more time you put in, the better you get.  How can such a simple idea become so lost in the effort to excel?

I was browsing through the magazine section at Borders when Yoga International caught my eye with the headline "Effort and Ease in Handstand."  I always hope, with articles like that or sections in yoga books about inversions, that the author will provide me some kind of secret tip that had eluded me up to now: "Just chant 'Wubba willy womma BOO' and up you go like a monkey!"  Alas, this is not what the article said.  Instead, it introduced me to a few new Sanskrit ideas and lots of practice tips that I've already heard: build strength by building heat through vinyasa, work to open the shoulders, work to acheive balance and core stability, work extra hard in Adho Mukha Svanasana - it's the foundation of everything, including handstand.  These are all things I know, but they take time.  "I don't have time," says the ego in my mind, "I must achieve excellence NOW!"  Nope.  Just 10,000 hours of asana and I'll get there.

What I hadn't heard were the ideas of abhyasa and vairagya.  Both the Yoga Sutras, by Patanjali, and the Bhagavad Gita mention the two ideas, together, as a means to controlling the mind and achieving enlightenment.  Vairagya is detachment: "Allow the asanas and the practice to come to you as you consciously explore opening to them. Use the breath and the intensity of physical sensation to guide your effort, and remember that it is not about how far you go but how you go. You may find your practice is best explored without getting to the fullest expression of the peak pose."  Yoga is not competitive.  It is not about getting there the fastest or the easiest or the prettiest.  If I can let go of my need to be the best, the need to perfect the pose right now, I can experience the movements and everything that goes along with that journey.  I "embody my higher intention instead of identifying with the outcome of the pose or the completion of a goal."   I get to enjoy every milestone along the way.  Which is where abhyasa comes in - regular and constant practice over a long period of time. Persevering practice.  Which means I keep moving, I keep practicing no matter what my body or my mind throws at me, I persevere.  Yoga, like life, like knowledge, is an ever-evolving practice.  I'm never going to learn it all, or perfect it.  Which means, if I continue to persevere, I continue to have success.  I continue to move towards a higher intention.

That's the beauty of yoga.  You can keep coming back to the mat and keep moving deeper into poses, deeper into your body and your mind.  At some point, you lose the scorecard of what you've achieved and, all of the sudden, you're in the pose you never thought you'd get into.  That mindfulness translates off the mat and, all of the sudden, you're calm in situations that would've been difficult before.  You're aware of what your body needs and, all of the sudden, you've lost those extra 15 pounds.  Gradual movements that lead to gradual success is difficult, especially since we're used to immediate gratification.  We want the perfect body, perfect life, perfect mindset right now.  But, it's never sustainable.  When it's gradual, it's integrated into your life as a new lifestyle, and not just a quick fix.  Gradual is good.  Plus, you get to savor all those small moments along the way, too.  

Gradual is difficult.  It requires commitment.  It requires perseverance.  It requires detachment from the ego.  But, eventually, we get there.  And, with those 10,000 hours under our belt, we're wiser and more prepared, anyway.  Instead of dropping off the face of the earth, I can just keep practicing, just persevering, knowing that I can still make gradual changes as I move through my emotions and my life.  I can keep working towards that handstand, knowing that each day, whether I flip over or not, I'm strengthening my practice just through my effort, just through my intention.  

Maybe most importantly, I know that by persevering through struggles and triumphs and detaching myself from what it means to succeed or fail, I am doing just what I'm supposed to be doing.  Right now.  I'm exactly who I'm supposed to be experiencing exactly what I'm supposed to be experiencing.  What a relief.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?"

And, we already are.

16 November 2010

There's a cockroach under my bed.

I think this yogic lifestyle I've adopted - the sweeping changes I've made in the past four months - was, albeit unconsciously, an attempt to control the crazy in my life.  Which is why it's now so painful to admit that it can't control anything in my life anymore than its negative counterparts could.  The feeling is something like, "If positive changes don't work and negative changes don't work, then nothing is ever going to work.  Everything is out of control."  And, I suppose that's when the obvious answer - "YOU CAN'T CONTROL ANYTHING" - swoops in and gives some kind of emotional release.

Except it doesn't feel good, like release should.  It feels painful.  And, overwhelming.  And, discouraging.  If I cannot control my mind and it's moods, then that means I really am crazy and need more help than healthy diet, healthy mind, healthy body.  I need someone to fix my brain, because I can't.  That's harder to admit than it seems.  And, yet, I'm also aware that this stripping away of all the physical shit - the bad habits, the compulsions, the self-destructive behavior - has really allowed me to see the emotional imperfections that remain.  The inconsistencies that still need some sanding down.  What's left to work with after the fire has burned everything else away.  Without the physical problems - the ones I COULD fix on my own - clouding my judgement, I've been able to feel emotions that, I guess, I've been hiding away for a long time.  And, actually feeling them is a good thing - I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

But, my pretty yoga and my pretty diet and my new, pretty habits can't erase ugly problems.  Which is what I was hoping for.  I want them to be gone as a reward for turning my new leaf.  And, yet, they're still here.  I know that these exercises in mind-body-spirit union serve as a way to deal with and cope with my problems - but, I just wanted to come out a squeaky-clean, new girl.

I'm bipolar.  It's not pretty and it's not easy.  And, the hardest thing I've had to admit in the past few months is that I cannot control the disorder by myself.  That's a scary thing to admit - made even scarier by the recent death of a close relative who finally succumbed to his battle with bipolar by taking his own life.  To admit that my brain fluctuates in such a way that has led others to such horrifying demise is really frightening.  But, admitting that also must be some kind of release, for as I write this my throat is tightening up - a knot in my throat and tears that feel like they've started in my belly and exhaust their way up and out and down my cheeks; these have become permanent fixtures.  It feels like peeling layers off - thousands of ancient, unexposed layers careening their way through my body.  And, some of it is simply bipolar's effect, itself - unyielding depression about nothing at all.  Most of it, though, is ghosts of my past - anorexia; bulimia; coping with my sister's death and the aftermath, including ACoA disorder; emotions about all the things that have happened over the years that have been put off because of their enormity or because of the enormity of their surrounding context.  That, coupled with manic-depression, has taken all my effort and all my sanity.  And, I end up feeling a familiar sense of failure, because I can't ever seem to figure out an escape.  Not with the bad habits and not with the good habits - I can't control it, which means I've failed to pull myself up and out of it.  Isn't that what responsible people do?  Isn't that what success is - pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and overcoming your circumstance?  I can't even find my goddamn shoes; how can I pull myself up?  Ashamed failure.

One of my favorite passages about yoga is from Cyndi Lee in OM Yoga Today.  She is speaking about all the different ways resistance manifests when you're trying to get to your mat.  And, she offers, instead of ignoring it or trying to pretend that something negative is actually positive, can you just be curious?  Can you just accept resistance as resistance, or anger as anger, or frustration as frustration and then get on your mat anyway and see how those affect your practice and, in turn, how your practice affects those?  The idea that you don't have to pretend to be happy or positive, that you can just accept your state of mind and still function, that has always spoken a great deal to me.  I don't like having to force a smile on my face or pretend that everything is ok - I've done that.  A lot.  A WHOLE lot. So the idea that, not only is it ok, but beneficial to feel those emotions, not to be afraid of them - well, that's a relief.  The Guest House has become a daily affirmation for me.   Otherwise, I'm just constantly ashamed of these emotions that I can't seem to shake.

Honestly, some days, facing my resistance is getting out of bed.  Getting dressed.  Not feeling guilty for eating.  Sometimes, I don't make it to my mat.  But, I've also come to accept that it's not just about asana.  Bhakti yoga has become more and more meaningful as I navigate through this web of hate and anger and frustration that all comprise this depression.  Bhakti is, in Sri Swami Sivananda's words, "Love for love's sake."  Learning to love myself, to remember that somewhere in all this pain is divinity, sacredness.  Remembering to love myself, that I'm worthy of love - that's yoga for me on the worst days.  And, the best days, for that matter.

Apparently, healing isn't easy.  It's arduous.  It's lengthy.  And, it's not erasing the past or even the present.  So, to begin yet again, I suppose I just continue to feel and let go, feel and let go and accept that most everything is beyond my control.  Even if it's the good stuff.  I can't use it as a means to exert control, to hold on to my power.  Ironically, I think it's the opposite - I have to use it as a means to let go.  To quote John Lennon: "It's always in the middle of the bloody night, or when you're half-awake or tired, when your critical faculties are switched off.  So letting go is what the whole game is.  You turn on the lights and the cockroaches run away.  You can never grasp them."  They're there.  Maybe these emotional cockroaches will always be there. But I can't control them just as I can't grasp them.  And, trying to is useless - it certainly doesn't make anything go away.

All I can do is let go.

24 September 2010

Nice, miserable day.

I like cloudy, rainy days.  I like when it's gray when I awake and gray when I go to sleep.  I like to feel wrapped up in the heaviness that comes with the sky's lowered ceiling.  I like thunder and lightning and strong winds.  I like feeling somewhat trapped in whatever structure I'm inside while a storm rages outside. It's safe and cozy.  It also fits my natural predisposition to brooding.  Some would say I'm a little dark.  I'm ok with that - mostly, because it's true (but, also, because I think it adds to my intrigue).  When it's sunny, I have to acknowledge the vast, unending possibility of happiness.  The sky's limitless and aggravatingly bright, blue canvas taunts me into admitting to my own happiness and limitless potential.  Don't get me wrong: on sunny days when I'm already happy, it's a great combination.  But, on days when it's bright and my personal weather is cloudy, there's an irritated storm front that lingers over my emotions, confusing and making me wish, even more than usual, that it would just rain a little, for the love of god.  It's like a cheerleader has made her way into the drama club in my head; and, though I appreciate the goodwill, I really just want to strangle her.

Today is one of those days.

Trying to escape the gray and enjoy the sunshine generally either makes me cranky or makes me more depressed that I can't enjoy it.  It's a pitiful, unhelpful little cycle.  The one productive part of this futile fight with Mother Nature is that it brings to the forefront all the things that I don't want - not including more of this incessant sunshine, dammit.  I know what it is that I don't want and I convince myself that if those things were gone, maybe I could enjoy the sunshine. I begrudgingly admit, though, that I know that focusing on what you don't want isn't helpful; it only brings more of that into your life.  It's focusing, instead, on what I do want that should allow me to put away my galoshes and rain coat and step into the light.  (That, and probably not focusing so much on weather metaphors.)

So, I'm acquiescing to the sunshine - despite the grumbly gray clouds harumphing their way through my mood today - and making a list of what I do want.  A specific list of all the things that I'm ready for the universe to send my way.  (I refuse to admit that I'm smiling a little because of the last sentence.  You can't prove it.)


1) I want my student loans paid off by the end of the year.
2) I want to teach and live yoga and things related to yoga for my livelihood.
3) I want to have all the money I could need.
4) I want to be and feel healthy and not worry about sickness, disease, or other issues related to my body.
5) I want to travel, frequently, for pleasure.  (And, by the way, if I'm earning a living via yoga, and then travel for "work," that's technically "pleasure," too, since I am doing what I love. It's a twofer.)
6) I want to spend my vast amounts of free-time with my husband and my dogs.
7) I want to pursue artistic endeavors because they make me happy and because we have the means to make experimentation and exploration plausible.
8) I want to live in a city and dwelling that facilitate all these things and contribute to my happiness.

I already feel better.  And, it's looking a little overcast outside!  This day's really looking up.

18 September 2010

Midterm Resolutions

My husband is a touring musician.  And, although I'm terribly proud of him and happy that he does what he loves for a living, when he leaves for tour, I am left to my own devices and I'm not always to be trusted.  My devices of late, however, have been pretty great, so I'm not deteriorating at the rapid pace I usually do.  They are positive, healthy, classically-sustaining devices that include healthy eating, yoga, running, laughing, and sleeping.  These are nice devices, like a refrigerator or a vacuum cleaner.

Why, then, do I feel as though some kind of bus carrying conventioneers going to a health expo has just run me over and instead of taking me to the hospital has instead given me apples and down-dogs to heal my mangled legs?  Because, I still like to incorporate a few nasty little habits even while in the midst of the good ones which, in turn, make the good ones feel as though they're out to get me.  These habits seem to occur only when Tim is away, as he is usually the voice of reason, saving me from myself in countless ways.

My absolute worst habit sans-Tim is falling asleep on the couch.  And, I don't just fall asleep, I stay asleep on the couch.  While these two actions are, generally, mutually implied by each other, I also assume that if someone normal falls asleep on the couch and then awakens to find they have done so, they'll get up and go sleep in their bed.  This is where my rapid departure from normal continues.  Our bed is literally 10 feet from our couch.  We live in an open loft - long on character, short on space.  I sometimes will wake up on the couch - neck cricked, confused and groggy - look directly at the bed, and fall back asleep, painfully and soundly.  I cannot pull myself off what, at this point, can now only be described as the dogs' bed and go to the human bed.  A big, cozy, comfy bed, and I choose to stay on the firm, unyielding couch where the dogs sleep.  I don't know why I avoid beds.  I love them.  And, I love sleeping.  Alas, when Tim is here, I don't have a problem climbing into bed and it's not just the handsome man that's in it, either.  So, why do I avoid the bed when I'm alone?  Sleeping on a couch is never very good sleep, now matter how good the couch.  I wake up exhausted and go on about my day, still excited and happy but a little less coherent.  Ridiculous.

After having run this morning with the dogs and a yoga class immediately after, mentally I feel great.  Accomplished, happy, healthy.  But, physically I feel exhausted.  I can't help but think this might have something to do with my couch-sleep last night.  So, the new resolution in the midst of doing incredibly well with my original intentions is to sleep in my goddamn bed.  Get home, wash face, brush teeth, get in bed.  Do not eat, do not turn on Frasier DVD, do not even sit down on couch.  Get in bed.  And on nights that I'm home early and have made dinner and am actually using the couch for it's intended purpose, I just can't allow myself to lie down.  Which means, some nights I might be headed for sleep around 8pm. I'm ok with that.

Because I'm not ok with feeling like I'm finally doing all that I've ever wanted, shaping my body and mind into something I really like and being too tired to enjoy it.  At some point, it even seems, shockingly, counter-productive.

I need a nap.

14 September 2010


I love ritual.  I always have. I like waking up in the morning, pressing the "on" button for the coffee maker (even if it is Teecino), pouring it into the same mug with the same spoon of cocoa and homemade almond milk, wrapping my hands around the familiar warmth, snuggling into the same corner of the couch, turning the Today show on and ignoring it while I wander around on the internet.  I love the time of year after Halloween when the season inevitably turns and the holidays are suddenly in the air; when I get to watch the same movies that I've watched in these months for 15 years.  During college, I would run along the same route every single night - the same route that my cousin took me on the very first day I moved to town.  I loved the innate feeling that went along with each bend in the road, that my body knew exactly where it was without my brain having to analyze anything.  I ran to the same playlist, night after night, too, so that the same bends and paths had the exact same tempo and message blaring through my ears at the exact same time each and every night.

Though I've run along new paths since then, and lately have quit running altogether (after having been chastised repeatedly for enjoying running by my various yoga teachers), the music that I would listen to then still instigates in me something vastly inspiring whenever I hear it now.  And, while some of the music is probably not the most scholarly or even inspirational, it all served a purpose.  And honestly, does it really matter from where or what you draw inspiration?  A few tracks to illuminate the rest of the conversation:

"Punk Rock Princess" Something Corporate
"Move Along" The All-American Rejects
"Unwritten" Natasha Bedingfield
"Gold Digger" Kanye West
"Beautiful Day" U2
"Breathe Me" Sia
"Hands Open" Snow Patrol
"Mr. Blue Sky" Electric Light Orchestra
"Hollaback Girl" Gwen Stefani
"Sugar, We're Goin' Down" Fall Out Boy

Like I said, some aren't the most inspirational. "Gold Digger," for instance, made me laugh - while running - every time, and that's enough to give it purpose in any runner's playlist.  "Sugar, We're Goin Down" is simply the best tempo to run to ever; it was also the last song of my run, the last three minutes of my 5k, and as it swelled I picked up my pace and sprinted home.  Others, however trite or cliched, still give me chills every time I hear them.  Not because of their philosophical depth or because they astonish me with their wisdom, but because they offer simple advice that is completely, immediately achievable today and in this very moment. When I was running, they served as a reminder that no matter how short of breath I felt, no matter how much my muscles were screaming, no matter how much I wanted the next step to be a walk and not another run, I could do this again tonight, because I'd done it the night before, and the night before that.  These melodies and lyrics helped me persevere and prompted significant change in my body.  As I listen to "Move Along," there's a part after the bridge where the drums break the silence and I can still feel my whole body stiffen with adrenaline, as if I'm bracing myself to keep moving.  They were part of a ritual and an important part, at that.

I've always loved a song's ability to take you back to an exact moment in time.  There are certain choruses I hear that, no matter where I am now, I am immediately trying to find parking outside of the library on a cold, February day; or, I'm dancing, a little buzzed, holding a cigarette, and laughing on the roof with my college roommate on a summer night; or I'm trying to see the road through eyes soaked from hours of tears, unsure of what comes next.  I can feel those moments, immediately transported by the magic that is created when random notes and tempos are mashed together into a song.  But, beyond  that transportation to a specific moment, past the memories, there is an evocation of feelings.  The ability  these songs have to draw upon a stored power from a  memory of what it feels like to be strong and capable in a moment of uncertainty.

I'm certainly not saying I don't feel strong and capable right now - I do!  More capable than at any time I can ever remember.  I'm speaking, instead, of those moments amidst strength and achievements, those little cloudy thoughts between the clear lines, when uncertainty and maybe a little despair creep in, albeit momentarily.  The time between your last exhale and your next inhale when you're not sure if you get to breathe in again.  That tiny little second, that momentary loss of focus when you aren't sure you can keep up in the stellar way you've been moving.  How can I keep going if I've already come this far?  How much do I have left to give?  It's a millisecond; a small, simple amount of time.  It's ample time, though, for doubt and discouragement to find the crack and start seeping in.  Which is why, I think, these simple, messages have come to mean so much to me.  They have provided muscle memory.  Muscle memory beyond the mere physical; it's now emotional.  It's the same way my legs knew when they rounded Memorial Union - without my brain having to tell them or consciously think out loud - that they'd almost carried me to completion, the race was almost over!  And the feeling would wash over my body until my brain caught up and realized its determination.  My body's confidence became a safeguard, sealing that leak with strength in case my mind should fail.

I took two yoga classes yesterday.  At some point during the second class, there was a moment when my shoulders were collapsing.  I was in down-dog and I could feel my courage exhausting with my muscles.  And, from somewhere, deep in all the tissue and ligaments and bones, I could hear, "Reaching for something in the distance, so close you can almost taste it, release your inhibitions!"  And my arms stretched forward, my legs stretched back - they knew they were reaching for something in the distance.  They knew - without my brain's awareness - that I wasn't allowed to give up yet.  (Natasha Bedingfield residing in my muscles is a little creepy - we'll discuss that at a later time.)

In so many spiritual texts, it's all about the mind training the body.  And, while I know my muscles don't actually have any thoughts, that these empowering moments are, indeed, all coming from within my mind, I can't help but feel that this body is also training it's mind.  As my physical body overcomes the challenges set in front of it, my spiritual body is reminded of how far it has also come.  That I'm right in the middle of all sorts of obstacles and changes, but have also already come so far, and will continue to move in that same strength.  My physical muscles are teaching my emotional muscles - on and off my mat - that in that moment between breaths, there can only be certainty that I will keep moving.  It's ritual.  It's completing a task that you've done thousands of times before and finding comfort in the knowledge of that preceding wisdom.  Doubt has no existence as nothing would be accomplished if it were in place of certainty - and so much has been accomplished!  The soundtrack serves as a reminder to what I already know, providing the map back to where I've already been.  And slowly, my soundtrack is becoming internalized.  I'm listening to the songs my own body is singing in these moments and hearing that I'm capable as I prove it to myself over and over and over.

I love ritual.  I love knowing this has happened before and will happen again and I will take the same joy and delight in it that I have before.  I love drawing on the shared emotions between who I was and who I am to find strength and courage to keep evolving who I'll become.  

27 August 2010


Today has been a departure. I'm not sure how or why, but I woke up outside of the happiness that's been encompassing me.  Sometimes, I think a dark cloud has to move through to release a little rain and clear the air.  I'm hoping that's the forecast.  I'm trying not to judge, though; and, as odd as it sounds, I'm trying to stay positive.  Just trying to experience the emotions and still be appreciative that I'm here to feel those, too.

Stumbling across anything by Rumi usually brightens my day; today it did the equivalent by comforting me with this:
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.