November 24, 2013

We Practice to be Reborn.

There’s a fearful quiet that permeates when you do nothing.

The silence leaks into my bones and stills my clumsily racing heart—until I feel my heartbeat quicken, made uneasy by the restless thoughts that still churn beneath my tank-top covered breast. These thoughts aren’t bad or unwanted, just…unsettling.

I settle into this silence anyway; urging the quaking evident within me to rest (although I haven’t moved). Calm and steady, I appear—tired and empty is how I feel.

This house contains my family. Turned into a home by tiny smiles and small waving hands, saying “bye-bye” for no better reason than to hear her own voice. Clinks, clangs and chimes from metal stirring metal in the kitchen, where he works diligently, lovingly and efficiently to make another beautiful dinner for the three of us. And yet I feel alone.

It’s not that I truly feel alone—I know that I’m loved and, more, I know I’m safe and cared for. Still, there’s an aching and a longing within my slowly beating chest that pounds and pounds and thumps and thumps for the desire of something more than I’m getting at the moment.

I decide to begin a new book—not reading a new book, writing a new one. It’s time.

I feel how my words go on and on for days, but there’s something missing within them because the most important ones are being ignored.

I ignore these words and my next big work because I’m terrified that I won’t feel as connected to it as the first one that I penned; the one that I wrote for her and for her tiny hands. So procrastination in the form of other books and smaller things containing my ideas has filled this empty space instead of what should have, and for nothing more than insecurity.

I am not an insecure person.

I dream big and laugh even bigger and I love and live life with passion, humor and intensity. There’s something meaningless contained within it, though, because recently I’ve regularly failed to display this hidden well that continually bubbles up inside of me.

I regain awareness of where I am and I shift consciously into something significantly less conscious; returning to the stillness, and to the quiet.

It fills up this space and it makes me feel full. There’s a threat that comes along with fullness—I’m incredibly aware of that also—because sooner or later you know—I’ve learned—that it drains either slowly or suddenly like the pssssssss of a punctured balloon.

With eyelids unmoving—unblinking—I place my right hand on my heart.

Thump, thump, pound, pound. 

I will the nagging worries of selfishness and lacking away, but they insist on coming back stronger because no matter how hard I have tried, I understand—I’ve learned this as well—that feelings shouldn’t be ignored—mistaken for letting go.

I know what letting go feels like. 

It feels like shoulders softening, heart lifting, eyes welling up with tears.

It feels like fingers slacking, arms hugging, lips turned up at the corners.

It feels, too, like that irreverent enemy—quiet, fearful stillness—because letting go means that you’ve become empty in order to fill again, and you wait, but not patiently.

My right hand drifts down my supine body to settle upon a concave belly. I feel the angular protrusions of hip bones and vividly—yet briefly—remember how it felt to hold her—my unborn daughter—there.

What no one told me about having a child is that you don’t change that much—you’re still you, only now you add mother and full-time heart holder to your list of dutiful, hallowed roles.

Squeals and laughter shouts from down the hall. I envision the next room: he is tickling her and cuddling her and she’s beaming up into his grinning face. She calls for me and, although it was silent, I hear her loud and clear.

I turn to my right side and lie there for one long moment of letting go—heavy burdens slide down my back, roll onto the deep purple yoga where I recline and then drift out of sight; out of my small yoga space and (temporarily?) out of my life.

I carefully glide myself up to sit, placing hands in prayer in front of a steadier, dimly pacified heart.

Gently—gingerly—with soft palms easily pressed together, I trace them up to the center of my forehead and just as silently—and powerfully—as her voice called to me, I humbly answer Namaste.

Somehow within the silence, within the languid movements—and within this stillness and trickling breath of savasana—I have worked past fears, and even though they aren’t permanently conquered, I know that this is why I practice—to be reborn—and I feel grateful to be back on my mat.


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Lululemon athletica on Flickr.



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christina Nov 25, 2013 4:51am

Yes! Yes! Yes! This is why I practice. Beautifully written.

Jamie Nov 24, 2013 7:33pm

Stunningly well written. Xo

Sara Rodriguez Nov 24, 2013 6:55pm

Oh, this… this is everything. Beautiful Jennifer. Exquisite. You just put words to things I've never been able to conceive. Thank you—and I'm glad you're back on your mat. ♥

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Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She’s also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.