I keep a deep secret—and to deserving souls, I sometimes share it.
The secret is of a place that holds my world together: the place where I practice yoga.
I can tell you three details about this place…
One: it is located somewhere in my home state of Colorado.
Two: after we close practice with our healing “Om,” a cat named Charlie paws his way inside and purrs his way around the circle of practitioners. (In summer months, he’s exiled—there’s just too much hair.)
Three: this is no studio, no sterile, wood-floored space that sells t-shirts and rents SUPs.
The teacher—I’ll call her “Dakota”—makes few attempts to advertise or spread the word. The place is through a dirt alley, in a yard, next to a home.
In this space, we arrange our mats in a circle. We face each other. We get to know each other. It’s a community—we share after practice and occasionally snack on dark chocolate. Practices are based on intuition and feeling. There’s no programmatic routine or rehearsed set of asanas.
For fear that giving anything else away will reveal its true identity, I’ll call this space simply “The Spot.”
I’m not sure that Dakota recognizes just what The Spot means to those who practice with her. I met my partner there, and our relationship to The Spot has helped our own relationship grow, mature and blossom. The Spot has been a place to which we can return, a place that has helped us work through issues with ourselves and with each other, a place for us both to rejuvenate and recharge. The Spot evolved from an individual sanctuary for each of us, to a home we could share. For others, it is a place of rootedness and connection, community and healing.
“Is it wrong not to tell people about The Spot?” my partner, Cheri, asked one evening. (She teaches philosophy, and questions of ethics are never far from her mind.)
“I don’t know,” I said. “I feel the same way. I don’t want the place to be any different. But that still feels selfish or elitist or something.”
Shortly before this conversation, a couple had practiced at the Spot and later posted photos of practice on Facebook—with permission from no one involved. Those who found out felt betrayed. The energy in the room palpably changed with their presence; practice felt contrived, less fulfilling.
There are secrets we all keep—like a little-traveled path to a breathtaking view or a wild, crumbling canyon—and an influx of people irrevocably changes the experience of a place. If any old riff-raff comes in, its color could darken. The energy I so cherish could become something else. But is this a healthy view? Is it just my ego seeking its own gratification?
Journalist Rebecca Solnit once wrote: “To know a place, like a friend or a lover, is for it to become familiar; to know it better is for it to become strange again.” I shared this bit of wisdom once after practice at The Spot. I’m not sure that anyone knew what I was getting at, but it didn’t matter. They were all perfectly strange to me.
At The Spot, the tiniest events can reveal loads about our worlds and experience. A white spider creeping onto your mat could portend prosperity and hope when you need it most. The call of a bird during Savasana becomes the happiest of coincidences. The lawnmower next door or the Led Zeppelin reverberating from the garage across the street, they become welcome assistance to practice, rather than frustrating distraction.
“Maybe there’s some kind of balance,” Cheri said later. “Maybe we don’t have to fear that kind of change, but don’t have to encourage it either. One door closes, and many more can open.”
She was right. To cling to the confidentiality of The Spot is to cling to a world that is both private and static. It is to deny the strangeness of the place, the ways in which new developments and change may defy all expectations and bend the space in a positive way.
I decided that I will keep my secrets, but I’ll also do my best not to get upset when others happen upon them. There’s no such thing as stasis. Places and people change, and if we look hard enough we can find beauty and wonder in all of it.
We can all get out, explore more, find what’s ours. We can seek rootedness in an age that does its best to uproot. We can seek deep connection in a world predicated on superficial interaction. We can find gratitude for all that we have, all that changes and all that is stable.
Author: Nick Mott
Apprentice Editor: Josette Myers; Editor: Yoli Ramazzina