10 plus years after my first yoga class, I’ve started a solo practice. It happened sort of organically (okay, with a small tech fail assist). One morning my Wi-Fi gave out just as I was queuing up YouTube. I really wanted to practice, and so I did. Alone. Free form.
The first time I heard the word Ahimsa—the yogic principle that translates to absence of injury or non-violence—my body was torqued into a position of considerable pain.
I stood on one leg, the other bent with foot placed on my supporting inner thigh. Arms aloft, standing ankle in a chronic wobble, whole body alternately swaying and clenching to hold the position. Sweat bled from my hairline. I hung on each second, begging it to end.
I finished a nine day cleanse yesterday, and to celebrate I walked myself around the park (naturally). This was the only movement I had any real energy for, and even then I could only manage one loop.
The temperature was perfect on my arms. I let myself feel it. The sun was as soft as warm cotton, the grass smelling of seed. The soccer kids were all practicing their artful crosses, balls sliding into goals. Perfect.
Most of the cleanse felt nothing like this.
I believe that as humans we are built for all things. All feelings. All experiences. I believe this with the fervor of someone who has swung the pendulum of experience pretty wildly for most of my 40 or so years.
Joy. Passion. Victimhood. Oppressive control. Hilarity. Co-dependency. Murderous rage. Apathy. Profound, spine-tickling inspiration. The range of experience here on earth is enormous, and we are wired for all of it.
I first heard this poem about the cow that eats all day, only to starve at night on her fear, when I was in my mid-twenties and searching.
A man read it aloud on a CD in that lilting, irregular way Rumi is often performed. I hated the poem when I first heard it. The stanzas made me ache with self-recrimination. How often had I been this cow? Safe when I trusted, but oh when I fed on doubt…
The world of woo has changed pretty radically in the past 10-20 years. Slowly, surely the occult has become less other, and today we have influencers and celebrities freely endorsing their preferred mediums and shamans. CEOs now take vision quests and share these experiences with their leadership teams. Certain astrologers and their kin have even become celebrities themselves. Practices that were once strictly supernatural have become… well, kinda super regular.
I recently went upstairs to the little closet sized room with the sweet window that hides at the back of my 1912 house. I stretched out on the shaggy white rug in there and decided I’d try to meditate. I had a tension headache and sometimes moving it through meditation can help.
I’ve been plugging away at the same few orchid plants for a few years now. Do you have this problem? The plants arrive in full bloom, of course, but a couple of months later they’ve morphed into the sad little asymmetrical things I’ve come to call Phalaenopsis nakedis. No flowers. Nada. Maybe a new leaf every blue moon.
A little over four years ago I went through the biggest transformation of my life. It happened fast, yet was a long time in the making. Difficult and complex. And as simple as an exhale once I allowed it to happen.