December 17th, 2015
YOGA, FIJI, and the HAMSTER WHEEL
Perhaps there is no end to struggle... Perhaps even striving for serenity is a false goal... an impossible feat... and what would one possibly feel like anyway to have absolutely No Stress? My mind might turn to goo, and perhaps I’d simply sit on my fat arse breathing in... Breathing out... Breathing in... Breathing out... Breathing in... Breathing out...Meditation. Ah ... it's kind of like death but with the breathing. Why rush it?
Why rush from the NOW? Why run from the fullness and safety of this moment into the next and next and next moment, missing all the now moments while careening, breath-lessly into an imagined future. And it is always an imagined future, isn’t it?
I imagine Hillary Clinton's voice on the radio waves for four years if she wins the primary and then the election. Or, maybe it will be the ernest angry voice of Bernie Sanders, or jeez, it could be the Donald's voice and face in America's future day after day as we end this Obama Presidency. I stick up for this intelligent man, our President and will miss this era ending. I imagine each individual aching to take the reigns, each imagining how they’d do it...total fantasy but worth a shot to share their fantasy with us. I imagine one of them actually holding the riegns and steering this massive beast of a country, and dealing with the chaotic mess of the world... steering it all Somewhere... But where?
Where are we going? Where does humanity really want to go? Do we move Into Peace, or hang with stress and struggle, the familiar?
Peace is unnatural. It must be. Even in sleep I have no peace, and neither do my two little Chihuahuas. My little dogs bark their muffled dream barks, (which warm my heart, by the way,) and sometimes in unison. As their little spindly legs run along dream-scapes, their round soft bodies twitching in imagined drama, which i interpret as stress, I thrash right along with them from kicking my legs from right to left and back again in my own wakeful scape; turning all things past and future around and around in my mind; all the things I have to do, to get done in order to avoid an imagined catastrophe. When that checklist is finally complete I will finally relax.
Does it ever end though? Is there a moment when we've opened the last of the mail and answered the 29,561 unread emails: yes, that is how many I have unattended to. Do the ducks ever get in order?
I sit staring at the screen(s); six hours, seven hours, eight hours; not writing my memoir which has no end in sight, but instead scrolling Facebook posts, watching animal videos and smiling at friends’ postings of haircuts, pets, children and meals. I look at travel sights and airfares even though I have no trips planned in reality.
Recently, my full-blown wanderlust, has me hooked on virtual tours around funky beach hotels in Fiji. FIJI; with that name like FIJI I'm on board! “Yes!”
I reason, “I'll be passing that way on my way to Australia anyway, why not stop and meet people, soak up the sun, ... and there's the pool looking good. I like that sundeck and there I am sitting on the patio facing the pool.” Uh huh, yeah, booked! Fiji.
Instead of living in Madison, enjoying the winter and its quaint activities, breathing in ... breathing out ... breathing in... and walking in the glory of the moment, I sit juggling airfares for hours and hours. It’s only when I walk into a yoga studio and sit on my mat that all the dreams of rest and relaxation begin to actualize.
As I feel my weight dropping into two sit bones and tail bone, dropping into mother Earth like a three-pronged plug, my shoulders soften in tandem. I exhale. I begin to relax into the Now. Seems everyone needs a spot to come to: a place/practice to bring one home to the self and into the Now.
I feel the energy of my students as I enter the room, a silent and not so silent yearning for some peace; “Please make my mind quiet... please help me relax the chronic tensions throughout my body...” their body language and expressions implore. “So how is everyone today ?” I ask smiling... They nod and say “OK” or “Good.” Some shrug their shoulders in a way that says “as good as I can be, I guess...” And we all know these are laughable fibs.
YOGA happens to be my practice and saving grace and that has been my path to sanity for four decades. Without my yoga practice; well, I can't imagine no yoga. At age 13 I found a book called Yoga, Youth, and Reincarnation, and it became my bible. My worn little paperback copy of this rare treasure traveled with me for decades until it finally vanished.
Yoga asanas, pranayama, and stillness of mind, are my practices. Arriving onto the mat, helps me step off that squeaky hamster wheel of shoving, striving, catching up, competing and staying current to the myriad confluences of media and information. I sigh and finally slow life down which is often too fast and furious; rendering me exhausted and overwhelmed. Connecting with my students, together we “dive inward” to practice “training up” the mind to be more spacious. We squeeze and shear out tensions in the body through asana practice, and breathing into the moment! Together we twist, bend, open, soften, strengthen, balance, breath, expand and become more tender to our wounded warrior selves. Yoga gives us a window to witness exactly what IS, and to hopefully forgive ourselves for being human. And as Richard Freeman so eloquently puts it:
“ Our very own body, which is immediately available to us, becomes a laboratory of consciousness, a field of exploration into the truth of out own existence so that, figuratively speaking, our body becomes a temple for open awareness.
I LOVE YOGA! Dar