October 6, 2013

We Have to Play to Win.

I recently won almost $2,000 worth of prizes in a charity raffle at my favorite local yoga studio.

Yes, you read that right: $2,000. As in three zeroes, with a two in front of them, and then a dollar sign.

No, this is not a chain or a gigantic gym and, no, I didn’t buy ten tickets—I bought one.

I remember vividly deciding whether or not to purchase a ticket.

I didn’t think I had any shot at winning, of course, and I momentarily hesitated—thinking of our family/household budget and the ticket’s 25-dollar price tag—and then I snapped back into myself, realizing that this was that rare opportunity to donate to a wonderful, local cause where all of the money goes directly to the source, to those who need it. I bought the ticket purely as a mindful donation, not as a chance to win anything, but just to play, and to live a little.

And then, I did. I won.

I won, I won, I won!

Yes, I freaked out—I’m still freaking out actually, almost a week later.

Because people don’t win huge, amazing prizes—well, people might, but I don’t—yet that’s just the point: we put ourselves into these pre-labeled, phony, well-organized boxes and we forget that, really, our opportunities in life are limitless—that we are limitless.

One of the main gifts that I won was an annual, unlimited studio pass—yep, I can attend as many frickin’ yoga classes as my om-ing heart desires, all year long, for free. Wow.

A few days after my big win, I dropped my little lady off at school and had a couple of short hours all by my lonesome—sigh.

I’ve been feeling under the weather, with problematic sinuses, and I seriously thought about going home to write while my own small, private home yoga space heated up. I was ready for quiet, lazy solo practice because I didn’t think I was up to a more challenging, athletic Baptiste-style class. Once again, I was wrong.

I went to the studio, in all honesty, only to see the smiling faces of my yogic peers greet me with hugs and congratulations!  I decided that if that meant staying in child’s pose on my gorgeous new olive-green Jade mat—you guessed it, another awesome prize—well, then that was fine with me.

But I didn’t stay in child’s pose—no, my body found strength and grace and hidden power.  I had incorrectly assumed that my weakness was in my muscles, when the weakness was actually residing in my own self-image, in my fear—and in my losing attitude.

I wiped the beads of perspiration from my flushed and happily blissed-out face after class. I put my two blocks away and said quick good-byes so that I could grab a shower within my child-free, allotted time.

And something rather profound dawned on me as I strolled casually back to my car, my freshly broken-in olive-green mat tucked underneath my arm: it might have been purely chance that I won, but the real gift was in the opportunity to see myself differently and not just this particular morning, but every time I come to my practice willing to try, and willing to play.

Each time I step onto my yoga mat, I’m gifting myself with the opportunity to become someone new—to step out of my self-imposed limitations, judgments and cages. My yoga practice shows me my true reality and my yoga mat is my mirror.

When I gaze at who I am through my yogic drishti, the walls I’ve so carefully—and falsely, cleverly—built fall away; they become the soft, slightly blurred point at which my eyes now focus; with brow soft, temples relaxed and eyes rooted firmly to one, un-moving target—yet the truly ironic thing is that when my visual focus remains steady, firm and un-moving, I am then truly allowed to move—to shift, to bend, to transform and to open up.

I bloom like the gilded Dogeared lotus pendant that I wear around my neck, reminding me that we blossom and bloom from dissonance as much as—or more than—we do from accord.

I place unnecessary restrictions upon myself, and my yoga practice gifts me with the chance to break free from them—I’m reminded of my unfathomable boundaries.

It’s funny, isn’t it, that a fairly small, rectangular piece of natural rubber, and a room with beautiful, dark flooring and sunny natural light, mixed with familiar and also unrecognizable faces can remind me so deeply that who I am isn’t who I often imagine, at all?

So this morning, I sit in bed, writing and sipping coffee from my favorite pastel pink mug adorned with Dorothy’s red ruby slippers. I love this mug above all others because it reminds me to dream, it reminds me that dreams can come true and, mostly, it reminds me to return home.

And where is home?

I guess at this point, my best and most honest answer is this: home is exactly where you are, right now, and this home will change and evolve, and that’s okay.

It will change and evolve because home is not my turquoise and rose-colored quilt or my familiar, warm coffee in my ruby-slippers mug, it’s me—on a fundamental scale, it’s me—and who I am is someone who could happen to win the cool prize of the year, but first I have to take the plunge and enter and simply play, at life—because here—here—there are only winners.

There is just me. There is only my olive-green mat. There is only opportunity. There is only change. There is only life. So live it. Play. Win.


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Ed: Catherine Monkman

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