“Well, I’ve been afraid of changing ‘cause I, I built my life around you…”
I heard it in Starbucks the other day. I’m not a diehard Fleetwood Mac fan, but the song and its lyrics always make me think of my dad.
Let’s be real. Few of us enjoy change. It’s difficult. It’s oftentimes unwanted and out of our control. Even good change is hard—like those dreams, turned reality, and their wake of positive shifts, which can be downright frightening. I tell myself I have the best excuse in the world to hate change: my dad’s out-of-the-blue car accident.
Brain injury brings change.
Not long after hearing “Landslide,” I was standing on a corner of Court Street wrapping up a phone conversation with my dad. It was one of the season’s first sunny, and slightly cooler days when the weather is eager for autumn. I could feel the approaching equinox—that time of year heralding the fluctuation and change that come with this very vata season. Stuff stirs: the leaves, our emotions.
We had shared a good conversation, our sentences following one after the other in normal father-daughter exchange— exactly the way I’d once envisioned our lives would be when I was 30 and he was 62. The two of us talking about the dog, the Steelers, the guy I just met, and whether I think he should try a yoga class at the gym.
I hung up and dropped my phone in my purse. I sighed, pulled off my aviators, and wiped away black streaks of mascara. My heart was pounding so hard I felt it loud in my ears, and a voice from somewhere inside of me was screaming: This is a good thing, you ninny! Why are you crying?
Because my dad is changing—again. It’s a recent development, and truly all for the better. Nothing giant, just subtle shifts that are enough to set my mother and me at unease. But the changes are good, so what is going on?
Yet again, I can generally find a pretty solid explanation for life off the yoga mat on the yoga mat.
Warrior One is a pose I never gave much thought to. Maybe I could find a little more energy in the outer foot. Maybe that front hip could afford to drop and hug a bit more to midline. But I was admittedly comfortable with my Warrior One right where it was.
That is, until the class in which I found my back foot, and I got deeper in the hip. Then, everything changed.
Finding myself deeper into the asana, my indifference shifted to disdain. Though I was beginning to understand more about how opposing energies work and how an asana can really access your organs (all things, I tell my students), I was not a happy yogi. I wanted the old warrior back— the one where my hips are a little wonky, the one I know.
But, I was in a new Warrior. I did my best to shut off my mind and breathe through it, deeply through it. My body was happy. My prana was flowing. There wasn’t much more to ask of this. All the change, all the disdain, was in my head.
Inside of one week I found more space in my hip crease and more normal in my dad. Two good things—and yet, I felt disturbed by both. What was my real fear? Change? Why?
Yes, change pulls us away from the status quo, away from the familiar place of static activity, safeness, stillness. Yes, it creates movement, and who’s to say where that movement will take us. Yes, it’s mostly out of our control.
But—it is just change—the good, the bad, and it exists only in our minds.
Nothing in nature can bring the mind continuous, unchanging happiness, because the mind itself changes constantly. . . . Changes are like flowing water. If you let the water just flow, it is very pleasant to sit and watch. ~ Patanjali
Janna Leyde: I’m a yoga teacher in Brooklyn. I am currently working on publishing my first novel and also creating a place where yoga and brain injury professionally meet. Concerning the latter, I am certain that a yoga practice will not only help survivors of traumatic brain injury, but also their families. As I practice with my father (a brain injury survivor) my family and I are learning that yoga not only helps his mobility, but also his mind.
Editor: Nikki Di Virgilio
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