With my shoes off, I slip into the room for a yoga class.
Sometimes the class is filled with chatter and laughter; sometimes it is thoughtful and quiet.
Each week, twice a week for the last seven months, I find my spot—usually the same spot, near a window. This might be bordering on attachment but in my heart any light that filters in drenches my spirit and compliments the nature of yoga.
The class starts with Om. The Oms vary with intensity: there’s the flat tone, the booming fog horn, the lyrical, the soft and the vacant. The oneness isn’t there. The yoga studio provides structure, a place to gather, but the real studio is in the heart.
The healing begins on a personal level. It’s prescriptive and medicinal.
As the session proceeds, I try to center myself. I scan my body to find the misaligned. I square my hips and drop my shoulders and adjust my scapula. I wiggle my ankles and perch my sitz bones on two bricks. I lift my jaw and soften the space between my eyes.
There’s a lot going on as the cells speak and the synapsis chatter; my nerves are translating a new DNA. I’m finding out where I begin and end.
We are connected by a universal thread that speaks without words. It’s seeing, beyond seeing. It’s in our breath like a blanketed question mark that starts deep at the base of our spine and wraps over our head. It repeats into infinity like an endless ray.
Geometry finally makes sense.
The class has multiply personalities; a variation on the theme of universal archetypes. There’s the groaner, the talker, the escape artist who can dissociate in a blink, the vacant, the intense, the unskilled and skilled, those with a perpetual smile. The scantily dressed to show they are wide-open but actually hiding much.
It’s a potpourri mix: sweet, pungent, and sometimes stale; it’s an expression of our varied selves—especially revealing the shades of gray and black.
What is hidden often surfaces in class; there’s no limit to the shadows of self. Past and present lives are stored in this caldron-like body. An awareness cracks open the lid and reveals the underbelly of our inner turmoil.
It is then, I crave Child’s Pose. I can rest in a safe place. It’s not an escape but it protects and comforts the core. It’s a bowing down to the self, in a humble lump of being human. It is a revolving door that never seems to stop spinning the revealing of the self.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest-house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honorably.
Who may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
Each visit is an opportunity.
I observe my emotional and physical self with an awakened awareness. Sometimes, the talker usually asks the obvious or what we want to avoid. The talker often needs attention or reassurance. The spotlight is on someone else but I can still feel the heat. Eventually, the talker quiets and hopefully recognizes that our answers are within.
The groaner triggers a martyr-like quality as yoga sheds light on what aches. In addition to the physical process of stretching, twisting and finding balance, there is often a stir of emotional pain. On behalf of the groaner, the collective emotions have been given a voice. The heart softens and compassion enters like the singing bowl or a pure mantra; a peaceful healing sound to integrate the vibrations of discord.
This is where the sticky stuff is congealed in the physical layers of the body as well as in reality and illusion…there’s a letting go.
The postures and poses are thankfully modified. What I could do in my twenties can’t compete with the suspended bridge into my fifties. The flexibility is of the heart, mind and soul. Yoga is a celebration of a collective universal mind; a cosmic hand that defies no beginning or end. This is sacred space: ancient and timeless. Muddled internal conversations are eased.
The boundaries of right and wrong are dissolved.
The ending asana is welcomed and I long to touch into being a corpse. The quiet self has no walls. The safety has to be felt in an internal void that matches a universal void. The floor becomes a surface of support and truth. The veneer overlay is pulled back. Hidden beneath the wood, the real self is safely exposed. It touches the earth and the rich, black soil enters the mind.
I can ground myself to the earth and tuck myself between the leaves that will decay and feed my soul; this is a safe respite as our cells regroup, transform, settle and clear space for new growth.
We exhale the final Om and the harmony is softer. The fog horn is quieter, the flat soul is lifted, the vacant are filled and a whisper of peacefulness can be heard. There is a kinetic energy, as hands press together, at the heart and the Namaste is uttered in sacredness.
A momentary cycle is complete.
Ed: Bryonie Wise
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