Here's a yoga side effect I didn't expect: I've been getting rid of my clothes. The bag in my closet that's been collecting Goodwill donations for months and months, very slowly, is now full to overflowing. My theory regarding this phenomenon is threefold.
First, I've bought a few pairs of leggings and some sports bras, and I feel less guilty buying new stuff if I give away some old stuff to balance it out.
Second, sayonara size zero jeans from the bad break-up that sent me to the elliptical an hour a day five days a week with no appetite. I'll never be a size zero again because I've developed some coping skills healthier than starvation. I'm over it. The same can be said for my fat jeans, the just-in-case jeans. Buh bye.
The third thing is a little more difficult to put into words. I'm lightening up. I'm feeling freer to simplify. Now don't get me wrong. I'm hardly prepared to pack a nap sack and become a nomad. No sane human being who's seen my apartment or my
It's pretty incredible, now that I've been looking for it, to notice how far fear's tentacles have reached into my life. In the case of my closet: how many times have I pulled out that same red button-down, the one that tugs in the shoulders and gaps in the bust, that I haven't worn in ages, and thought, well, you never know. What if I need it someday. It might look really good under a blazer, if the occasion arises. I'd hate to not have it if I need it… Fear thoughts. Thoughts based on a premise of lack and chaos. The consequence is small in this case, just one more heavy hanger on the rack, but it's a symptom of a more systemic sickness.
I've been working for years, through study and thought and thought and more thought, on internalizing the opposite premise--that the universe is abundant and supportive. It's often felt like a struggle and I've felt like a failure more often than I've felt faithful. Over the past 29 days, yoga has turned those thoughts into a practice, a part of me, a muscle memory. Without trying, and thus without giving myself anything to be mad at myself for, these ideas are becoming actions and my life is transforming as much as, or more than, my body.
How cool and special that today is the winter solstice, the day the "sun stands still," the darkest day of the year. It's a day to acknowledge darkness and to allow transformation and healing as the days begin to grow longer. It's also day 29 of my yoga journey. What friggin luck! A perfect day to acknowledge the dark ghosts in my closet, so to speak, and to make space for the natural transformation that is taking place.
I feel compelled to make an announcement or write a song or do a dance or something. This seems important!
Today I acknowledge all of my teachers, and especially the darkness, the pain. I acknowledge fear, the source of so much of my pain--all of it? could that be?--and I give it a big sloppy symbolic smooch on the lips. Look at where you've brought me, fear! I've been twisted and stretched, inverted and opened, tearful, shaky, sweaty, sore, embarrassed and exhausted. What a gift! What an adventure!
Tomorrow will be a longer day, the first in a progression of days that grow longer. It's so perfect it's almost absurd. Standing on the precipice of Day 30, I can feel that same shift from darkness to lightness happening in my spirit and my life. I'm quite certain that the balance has finally tipped. Now love compels me to move more often and more persuasively than fear. Sure, I've still got a closet full of clothes I'll never wear to sort through, over time, with some patience and maybe even a little reverence, but I can tell you this for sure: the red button-down doesn't stand a chance.
Photo credit: Me. Please use responsibly :)
Something has happened
to my understanding of existence
that now makes my heart always full of wonder
--from “Today” by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky
It’s pain, the greatest gift,
though you may not believe me
now in your Honda in your Hummer
on your bike in your blue jeans in a condo
in the city in the suburbs in the chase in the venture
and the planning for the next big thing to hit.
It’s true, though, that pain is the widest door
for wonder and kindness to walk through.
Just watch: open up.