My mat is my mirror.
I step on and I’m able to see myself clearly rather than through the hazy fog of my churning monkey mind or my hang-up of the moment.
I’m able to breathe past my sinus infection. I notice that my problematic knee feels good when I do this, but that I shouldn’t do that.
My mat—or rather my yoga practice—illuminates me. Enlightenment, according to the dictionary, is “the state of having knowledge or understanding.”My mat, therefore, is my mirror—the physical link between my body, my emotions, and my yoga—my harmony and marriage with the present moment of simply being in my physical practice.
I sit in easy seat and rest my hands gently on my thighs, palms down, to harness my energy for my day of mothering ahead.
I breathe into the space between my sometimes achy heart and my sore neck and I find unexpected relief.
I live to move, to be, and to experience life—yet I forget this.
I forget this when I’m trying to get to the doctor and I’m trying to figure out what is best for my daughter. I forget this, too, when I’m lost in my daydream fantasies instead of where I should be—in this place that I’m inhabiting right now.
I forget, most of all, to be vulnerable.
Tears fall behind my sunglasses as my left hand grips the steering wheel and my right hand works the stick shift. I feel embarrassed when my cheeks become wet, even though I’m alone in my car.
I feel alone.
I choke back my tears and I call my mom, telling her I feel frustrated and disappointed and a myriad of other things. I choke up and begin to cry again. I feel bad for upsetting my mom and soon hang up.
I call my sister; leave a message. I almost call my friend, but decide to sit with my emotions on my own; pulling into my driveway; turning on a hot shower.
There’s something wrong with my knee and I can’t hop on my mat during my rare alone time, like usual. My mirror is closed. “No trespassing” tape marked in an imaginary “X” across it. Where do I go? What do I do? My mat has become, in some senses then, a crutch.
My olive-green sticky mat should be a tool for my inner illumination, but not a necessity.
I should be able to sit with my tears and my discomfort, both physically and mentally, and simply accept and work through it, but I don’t want to—and then I light up—this is the clarity I wanted.
I make coffee and feel the smooth black texture roll over my tongue and down my throat because I can feel that now instead of my hurt. I don’t over-eat, but I imagine that this is why people do: to shut down, close off and temporarily fog up their mirrors.
I read recently in a crappy fitness magazine article that women eat their emotions and men work them out through exercise. Apparently, I have a penis I didn’t know about. I exercise too.
So what do I do when I can’t? When I need rest and ice and doctor visits in my precious allotted time? I do the only thing I know I can do—I dig in.
I spent too many years struggling with anorexia—not eating because feeling hunger is a form of fogging up your mirror—and too many years winning this struggle to go back. I like drinking wine and coffee and, don’t get me wrong, I even like ice cream, but I have no desire to wallow in any of these to ease my pain.
On the other hand, I have a child. While I think it’s healthy for her to see me express emotions and deal with life, I personally don’t think it’s healthy and appropriate to be a mess in front of someone who can’t fully comprehend my dilemma; when she just knows Mommy is very upset. There’s only so much of this that I can allow.
And I don’t have my heater going in my little yoga room for my little home practice, like usual. I do, however, have an empty coffee cup at my bedside, slightly wet eyelashes, a soft cotton robe and warm blankets wrapped around me. I curl up in my makeshift cocoon—my nest, my temporary womb—to recoil from life and relish in myself.
I pull off the shroud covering my mirror and set it ablaze in my mind’s eye.
I refuse to allow my sacred mat to become another unhealthy tool of self-destruction—the opposite of illumination and enlightenment.
I see myself for what I am: a scared woman who knows something might be physically wrong with her that means needing help with her child in her not-so-distant future and someone who might be taking time away from her yoga mat or who might not.
In short, I see my worries and my fears and how they’ve run away with me and distracted me from my now moment once more, and I discover that all my yoga mat does is repeatedly reconnect me with my true and present sensations.
I dry my tears and grab my favorite purple hunk of almost iridescent amethyst. I open up the two, thick pieces of grey plastic that make up my laptop and I write. Writing might not illuminate me or bring me to enlightenment, even in the more mundane sense of the word I shared earlier, but it makes me happy—and I choose happiness.
My phone rings. It’s my sister calling me back. I click “silent.” (Sorry, Sarah.)
I choose spending time with myself.
I choose me.
And I realize that I didn’t need my yoga mat to practice yoga after all.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
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The 4 Stages of a Good Divorce. A Letter to my Children: You do not come from a Broken Home. These People are Rare Gems—Keep Them, Fight for Them, don’t Give Up on Them. Mom, can I Call her Mom, Too? Jon Stewart makes first appearance since retiring—”it’s not your country.” Waylon shares 10 transformingly beautiful Quotes about Love. 40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years. My Marriage had to End—for my Life to Begin. Why your Yoga Goals are (Probably) Irrelevant, if not Downright Dangerous. Dear Woman in the White Car at Margaritas Mexican Grill in West Memphis, Arkansas on July 15th, 2012.