My gosh I was running ragged and while DC - somehow I managed to make it to my mat only a few times this month, culminating with five 2.5 hour sessions at a workshop with Ana Forrest last weekend. More yoga in one weekend than I had in the entire month. I'm still processing all that I learned, all that I discovered. This past week in DC I hardly made it to my mat and hardly had time to review my notes from the workshop. Gotta love the holiday season.
Then why, oh why, did I wake up at 6 am on a Saturday morning, to be on the road at 6:30 am, for a two hour Baptiste class that began at 8 am? After finishing a class at 5:30 in Wakefield last night?
While at home with the Mathematician and the Artist, I knew it was going to be important for me to return to my mat and begin the process of continuing to work on those things that I picked up last weekend. I packed for RI in a hurry - only packing one pair of brown high heeled boots in my suitcase, the clogs on my feet, and more yoga clothing than everyday "normal" clothing.
After finally locating the studio - above the garage of the teacher's modest home in Charlestown - I ascended the steps, entered the studio, and felt a bit like the new kid in the class. I set up my mat as I always do at Down Dog and did some light stretching, smiling at those who entered and who were already there, engaging those I could with some small talk. The teacher calmly walked into the room and class magically began. It started with some light breathing exercises, pranayama, and meditation, then the poses and vinyasa began.
My gosh it was hot. There were maybe 20 of us, but the heat generated was only rivaled by a packed house on a Saturday morning in Georgetown when Coeli is in town. We moved through the flow and then we came to wheel, Urdhva Dhanurasana. I have no clue how many wheels we went up and into, but they kept on coming. Slowly I could hear the complaints of the class rising and could feel some aggravation rising at towards their complaints, but I just kept on going. My wheels became deeper and soon I found my hips the highest they've been and my forearms to the mat. Last night was the first night I had stood from wheel and went back down from standing. More possibilities of wheel just blossomed - continuing some of the opening I experienced in the last session with Ana Forrest.
By just letting them rise to the surface.
I stopped thinking - I hit a point of flow. I was dead tired but I kept on moving deeper and deeper into my wheels.
In life we have really have two options, one is to be the spectators and comment on our present situation - to complain and whine and make judgments on others. What good does that do? The second option is to take action and be the player - take responsibility and follow through with honesty, integrity, and letting our hearts be our guide.
The holidays are stressful, none of us will question that - having to travel here and there go to parties, cooking, baking, shopping to complete, Christmas cards, office parties, and in all of this we neglect ourselves. When all is said and done, it is truly wonderful to retreat into the love and comfort of heading to that place called home - whether down the block or a car ride or a flight away.
As much as things change, I'm convinced, ultimately; they stay the same. Upon my arrival to RI I headed to the holiday service at my Middle/High School - I walked in the front door and I was transported back to my school days. My first question - Where can I find my mom? The secretary and my high school AP English teacher burst out in laughter, pointing me in the direction of the Middle School where I found the head of the Middle School (my 6th & 7th grade English teacher) and rest of the faculty valiantly attempting to put the students in perfect uniform into some semblance of order. I couldn't help think that was my classmates and me 15-17 or so years ago.
Has it really been that long?
I headed over to the service wondering how it had changed - my Junior year they radically changed the service the complete dismay of the student body and it was really no different when we were Seniors. Looking at the program, there was no pageant; the music was for the most part the same. As the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools processed in I saw my classmates, other students and myself in the current student body. The bell choir began, and the Seniors entered, candles and white sweaters.
A Quaker School, they celebrate Silent Meeting, a time for community to worship in silence, to meditate, reflect, and come together as a community. The Seniors invoke the silence for the service: Now is the time of the winter solstice; Now is the time of the greater night. Now is the time for songs and stories; Now is the time for candles bright. Now is the time to dispel the darkness; Now is the time of growing light.
We're gathered together in love and in kindness, In joy and in unity, warmth and good cheer. Ages and seasons surround us with wisdom, And light from within makes our way the more clear. The lessons of youth do not pass, but repeat Like the cycles of the seasons of each passing year.
Sitting in reflection, I felt the most at home I've felt in a long time.
One year ago my life radically changed. One year ago, many of our lives changed.
But our lives change on a daily basis.
I've been thinking long and hard about today and looking at the words I wrote in August for some possible inspiration. Some might say that of late I've retreated a bit into myself, spending more time with my meditation and yoga practices - seeking stillness, seeking presence.
In life we search for those activities and people who help us live with happiness, fullness and awareness, even in our darkest times.
When we find those, we are truly blessed.
It's not easy to live in the present. It's not easy to regard difficult situations as challenges or opportunities for growth and development. After events pass, in reality they become nothing more than memory. Yes events change your path. The challenge then lies with allowing the memory, or impression, of an event to be just that and to be defined solely by its own time.
I cannot put things any more eloquently or succinctly than Kofi Busia, "the teacher we seek is the one who can help us forget the things we should never have remembered and to remember the things we should never have forgotten."*
This is a blatant plug for one of my dearest friends, Lady Apollo.
This coming Sunday, December 9, 2007 she will be running her first ever marathon, for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society in Honolulu, HI.
The idea of running a marathon has never even begun to speculate in my mind and when I received her announcement letter about it I was totally and completely floored. Lady Apollo, running a marathon? The same Lady Apollo who would stay out at Irish bars in Boston with me until 3am (or later) slinging back Guinness and Irish Whiskey? I knew that with the blooming of this past spring she began working-out more and running, but nothing like this.
Oh, did I also mention she didn't get this idea until June of this year? Beginning her training in July?
When I asked her how she came to do this (what at the time I considered a) crazy idea. Lady Apollo offered a simple response:
I was running with some friends from work and when I got home, there was this brochure from the Leukemia Lymphoma Society that mentioned this run. I've come to enjoy my time running and I thought what could be better than to do something you enjoy and help fight cancer?
But ultimately, I just did it, there was no thought to it. I wanted to do it. You know?
When she said this, my respect for her grew tenfold. The ease with which she purposefully and adroitly takes action has always been an inspiration to me. Since meeting the first week of college, she has been a resolute voice and continually reminds me how important it is to do what feels right to you. She never ceases to amaze me.
"Stop it and just do. Try and tickle something inside you, your 'weird humor.' You belong in the most secret part of you. Don't worry about cool. Make your own cool. You are not responsible for the world - you are only responsible for your work. So do it. And don't think that your work has to conform to any idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be."
- Sol Lewitt to Eva Hesse
In the interest of time and as Tuesday is rapidly approaching, I offer the above from Sol Lewitt, an American artist linked with minimalism and conceptual art as today's Mantra. With the holidays fast approaching, it's very easy to forget about the Self with the stresses that go along with the looming end of the year. During this time of year, we need to be gentle with ourselves. However, we often place ourselves second or even lower on the priority scale - ignoring our own needs.
Follow your heart. Follow you inner-voice to the truest representation of what you need - ultimately, to the truest representation of who you are.