“I’ve washed my hands of her,” my dinner companion says as she audibly swipes her palms against each other in the air. “There is no going back with me.”
I look at her glass of rosé, dwindling far less quickly than mine, as the depth of her frustration pours out into the fresh night air. She is venting about a close family member, and my closeness to both means I know how each feels about the other.
There’s a ring of gossip, hurt, and resentment that courses in this family that—crazy as they are—I love dearly. Of course, I’m not just an innocent bystander. Through the handful of years I’ve been a part of it, I’ve dished out and taken some punches and have felt equally self-righteous or victimized by it.
I don’t want a hand in this fight. Time and time again, I want to cultivate the delicate finesse it takes to say the right thing, or say nothing, or act on behalf of the greater good. I know it. Yet even tonight, I squeeze between the ropes and send a few punches toward someone who is not even present.
(And doesn’t that make me just as crazy?!)
This summer, I’m taking a break from teaching yoga—in the conventional sense. There’s no class schedule or the latest lucy indiGO leggings. There’s no alternatives to protect tender wrists or suggestions for increasing mobility in hips. No guidance on fine-tuning balance in Crow Pose or sweet surrender in savasana. No.
There are just moments, one after the other, of compassionately embracing the humanness that ties us all together. There is just the richness of wisdom that has been shared by the teachers that came before us, simple yet profound in nourishment. There is but the universal center that holds steady while we spin with the world and witness this great human experiment.
So this is it, I realize. This is what it means to practice and teach yoga.
The waitress stops by and, spying my now empty glass, asks if I’d like more wine. I do, though I decline, turning to my breath instead. This is my chance to embody neutrality. This is my chance to be open and free from the need to be accepted or right. This is my chance to hold to the center, one moment at a time, until the next teacher arrives, challenging me to surrender my ego and act for the higher good.
Each of us are students and teachers in waiting; Jesus in disguise; Buddha walking—even family! Let us bow to each other and tap into the center that ties us and the whole universe together.
“The Tao doesn’t take sides;
it gives birth to both good and evil.
The Master doesn’t take sides;
she welcomes both saints and sinners.
The Tao is like a bellows:
it is empty yet infinitely capable.
The more you use it, the more it produces;
the more you talk of it, the less you understand.
Hold onto the center.”
~ Tao Te Ching, Chapter 5
Author: Sarah Marquez
Image: Flickr/Karsten Bitter
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Nicole Cameron
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman