lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu - May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.
I'm overwhelmed. For starters, I'm overwhelmed by the task of catching up after what? 11 days or so I guess without internet and without the time or desire to seek out wi-fi to blog. Here's the summary: I've completed 19 days of yoga, and I'm overwhelmed. A little with the task of putting it into words, and mostly with gratitude. This is not to say I've had all good days, or easy ones, or that I haven't felt stuck and tense and frustrated. I have. But that's not the story I want to tell today.
I don't think I've fully conceptualized yoga's transformative influence on my life right now, but I get frequent glimpses of different facets of the magic, and again I feel overwhelmed. There are so many ways that
yoga teaches me about myself--about the
Another facet of the magic, I think, has to do with intention. In the beginning of many classes, I'm asked by the instructor to set an intention for my practice. There's something to be said for asking myself in a moment of stillness, with my hands in prayer at my heart, what is my intention? What do I want? What do I hope for? And that question travels with me through each day, as does the answer that motivated this commitment to begin with: I intend to live fully.
When I say I intend to live fully, this is what I mean: I seek to be fully present, alert, tuned in to what life is asking of me, and to be open enough, and more and more open, to say yes when I'm asked to stretch and expand and give more and receive more. I want to do all of the fancy twisty hand-stand stuff you see real yogis do in videos and magazines and things. I do. And I think I can do all that if I keep practicing, facing fear, opening, softening, falling, coming back to the mat. Just as much or maybe more than reaching those inverted-body-pretzal goals, though, I also want to feel the way my feet ground me each time I stand and reach toward the sky, urdhva hastasana. I want to notice the energy in my fingertips and the stretch in my spine. I want to understand the release of surrender when I forward fold, uttanasana, and the fierceness of breathing stability into my flexing calves and thighs in chair, utkatasana. I want to feel fearful and still lift off an inch or two into crane, bakasana. I want to try it again the next time, even if I fall on my face.
And I want to do all of that, in English, in street clothes, off the mat as well. To live the yoga metaphor. Today was an opportunity to say yes when it scared me and stretch beyond my limit. Through a series of serendipitous events, I found out about and expressed interest in a new position within the wonderful organization I work for. When I started this yoga journey, this particular position didn't exist and leaving my current role--one that I really enjoy and feel very comfortable in--wasn't a thought that had crossed my mind. I love being reminded that my sight is so human and limited--how silly, life says, to worry about what will happen when you can't even see all the options! Anyway. Today I breathed through two waves of group interviews, flexing muscles that have been out of practice, feeling pretty shaky sometimes and surprising myself sometimes with skill or strength or flexibility. And if you'll stick with me here as I stretch the metaphor just a little more, the savasana after all that exertion brought me quite literally to tears.
It's funny. I asked for this. I don't know what the outcome of the interviews will be, I really don't have a clue. But I asked to be challenged, to become intimate with fear in order to find a new vantage point and then soften or stretch beyond the limits I perceived from the old one. I still want that. I'm still committed to saying yes to that. But today I'm learning, or I'm reminded maybe, that growth and grief are often really good pals. Like I said, I don't know what will come of the interview. I'm mentally jumping the gun all over the place. But in moving even mentally on from where I am now, in this case professionally, I'm ironically so acutely aware of the sweetness of my current position.
When I got home from work today, I made muffins for Dr. Jackson. He's been a mentor and a friend since I started working in my current position two years ago. I really respect both his earnestness and his levity. He cares deeply about his patients, is thoughtful about their treatment, and is aware of his own reactions and biases to an extent that not many doctors even strive for, and certainly very few achieve. And he's funny! Funny in an offbeat way that surprises people. Which is also funny! I've learned so much from him and I just plain old like him a lot. It's scary as hell to risk leaving that sure bet in favor of a big fat unknown--a new program, a new role, new teammates. Glopping glaze on birthday muffins, listening to the borderline-over-the-top-emotional Girish song "Diamonds in the Sun," I can't help it, I cried a little. Maybe more than a little. Possibly like the whole time I glopped glaze and then for a little while after. I thought of the anonymous note I know he tucked into my mailbox when I started this job: you made our team feel whole again.
Instead of moving into the next pose--the action of planning or predicting, the straining, the balancing, whatever--I think I'd like to sit instead with that thought for a moment. What a gift to fill that gap. What a thrill to connect that way, to feel like a part of a cohesive, whole, hilarious, super awesome team. How ridiculously lucky to get to use this body and this active, neurotic brain in a way that feels meaningful and challenging every single day. And what amazing fortune to get to conspire with so many like-minded, like-hearted people. I am blessed. Right here, right now, in grief and in growth, sitting with the smell of fresh-baked muffins, snotting all over the place, feet planted firmly on the ground, I am so blessed. As Virginia Wolf said, though, "I am rooted, but I flow"--grief and growth have momentum. In order to learn to trust my arms with the full weight of my body, to move toward those twisty inversions, my feet will need to leave the ground. The grief I'm experiencing right now, which comes almost inevitably with change, is bound to continue its bloom into pure gratitude--appreciation without attachment. Through sweetness and through sadness, I've set my intention and made my commitment, and I'll continue to say Yes. I'm not made for limits, but for lift off.