Friday, January 13, 2017

Balance (November 30, 2010)

I've been flirting with yoga for many years. In acting school, at 7am, Lisa the ballet/allignment teacher took us through a genius routine that I had on tape and I wish I still had: a combination of ballet, yoga, pilates and meditation that set us up for a day of being centered and exploring character and our inner psyches and outer muscles. It hurt and I loved it. Then, living in the Village, I found the Hatha Yoga center on 12th Street and went every day for a while. It wasn't really that strenuous physically, but I found a calm there I knew I craved. In Jersey City for a while I found a nice studio on Grove Street I went to a few times. I'm pretty sure I still have about $50 in sessions there to use. Then I moved south and bailed on yoga. Not that I was ever really a devotee. I was more of a runner who used yoga on off days. I never developed a practice, although I felt like I should, or that it suited me. Here in Nashville, I bought a road bike, a Cannondale, and began to ride for an hour, then two, then sometimes three. My legs got stronger, the desire to run waned, and then I found a yoga studio down the street, only 2 blocks away and I went a few times to a Vinyasa class. But it was this thing called Hot Yoga that intrigued me. I like sweating. I'll admit it. I like to know if I'm working--a physical outward manifestation of the inward grunt. I don't like to walk away clean from exercise and I will never understand a woman who comes to the gym in pink or in makeup or jewelry. Give me dripping wet grey and black, hair pulled back tight, sopping slick skin. That's an hour well spent. So hot yoga really drew me in and there I was, finding a studio in Nashville that specialized in this zany thing. And I went. Every day for a week. And I was hooked. And now I do my best to go as much as I can, and I still ride the bike. I swap off. And my body is happier than its ever been. I feel strong and it calms me.

But today I had The Best Yoga Class Ever. And I had to rejoice. I'd worked to my edge. I felt like I wanted to throw up a few times. I had to bail on a few poses. Sit in child pose. Breathe. But I kept going once I got my balance back. Then at the end, when in meditation pose, breathing in and out, our teacher, Leia, I think, who has this gentle calming voice and reminds me of a rock climber in Boulder with a body I'd kill for and I'm sure she's younger than me but I love her class, Leia had us breathing and she was talking about the soltice and the darkening hour and preparing for our greatness and possibility and deepening our intenion--

--let me interrupt here. I am a person who this language, this jargon, made me cringe. I did the Landmark Forum. I drank the juice for 3 days and got a lot out of it and walked around NYC for a month like a blissed out zombie until I woke up and thought--holy cow, they had me drink the juice and now I'm talking in jargon phrases that don't fit in my mouth. I cringe at hippie shit like this, even though in my heart of hearts, I am a hippie rockclimbing chick living in Boulder, CO or Santa Fe, NM totally centered with long blonde hair strumming a dulcimer....too many Joni Mitchell CDs from my youth--so yeah, any of this 'intention' and "possibility" bullshit just makes my skin crawl...until it ... well, makes my skin crawl in a kind of amazing and good way---

and as I was there breathing and relaxing the spent body I live in, a wave of Great Emotion came up and I found myself breathing harder and longer and deeper than I ever have and, do you know that twinge you get in your chest sometimes in breathing that feels like a combination of grief and growing pains and love and longing and deep sadness and blissed out pulling? I had that. And tears fell down my face and there I was in a freaking hot yoga class on a Tuesday late afternoon in East Nashville having a catharsis on my back, with my intention of "letting Love come into my life in whatever way it comes" and I felt that, felt that bigness of Love, come in and fill me and I almost moaned outloud, but was worried that the guy behind me who was wearing only shorts (and that kind of, honestly, grossed me out) would misread my moan. And then I was back to earth, still emotional, still grateful, and still moved, but my toes and fingers were tied to me and I wasn't spinning so much.

And I left that class dripping with more sweat than I've ever had come off my pores and came home and loved on my dog and made myself a nice dinner and talked to a few friends and did nothing of real consequence. I didn't change the world. I didn't change my life. I wrote nothing sacred or amazing or even insightful. I just listened to the sound of the chimes in the wind, the heater billowing up from the basement, the dehumidifier hum.

And I realize now, hours later, I have not felt this calm in a long time.

So many moments of our days are like unseen fingers trying to push us off our center of balance, challenge our confidence. We fight them constantly. Fight each other. Fight ourselves. Its nice to know there's an hour and half that will right that imbalance. For less than the cost of a movie.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Insomnia and Poetry
Failure has its blessings. When we realize we have failed ourselves or the people we love we find ourselves at the bottom, right? Eating dirt, faces in the mud, cheek on the porcelain tiles, lying prostrate before our God or no God, pleading inside and out for forgiveness, to wipe it clean, to take it back, to eat our words we regret. And then the night ahead looms dark and lonely, the never ending turn of the wheel, replaying the tape again and again until the sound of our own voice is maddening, the mistake a loop we can't escape. The night doesn't come or go calmly, it sticks to your skin like cobwebs, itching at the edges.

And then the light cracks through and a hush before the shiver of the day and you ask and grace appears or is given or you reached into the pit of it all and grabbed grace for yourself, tired of the headbanging. And with hindsight, you can look back at your stumblings and start the Great Teaching Speeches: how can you get up without falling down? its what gives you strength. what won't kill you...

But the reality is these trippings hurt. Badly. They ache and rock and roll you away from sleep and its only in the blindspots can you shake it off, stop the tape, shut down the critic.

Is it better to have reached for something just beyond your grasp, fail and fall, then never to have made the attempt? That's what poets say. But maybe sometimes the stretching just plain hurts and sometimes you wish you didn't even see the dream. But then, that's what a heaven's for...

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mind.
Meanwhile, the world goes on.

--Mary Oliver

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