Wednesday, July 20, 2011

dead branches and exposed leaves

Sorry for the delay in posts. My life has been turned upside down in recent weeks. But like in yoga, when you're in a good headstand, you might not be seeing life the way you usually do, but you're still seeing it, albeit differently. When you go to stand on your feet again, as the blood trickles down from your head, back into the rest of your limbs, you feel refreshed, renewed and ready to shake and move. It's important to remember what you learned in your headstand because that's what made your following upright pose so marvelous, so real and so alive.

I am no longer living in that small farm community I told you about at the beginning of this blog. I am no longer in a relationship. It ended at three years of dating. Two of which we lived together. We did all the usual things. Talked about our kids names. Picked a time of year and a location for our wedding. But that's not happening anymore. I am now living in a southern suburb of Minneapolis with good friends who care about me. I am crying a lot. I am not doing very much yoga. I am not doing very much studying. I am not eating very much. I am trying to breathe. That's one thing I can do, I can breathe. Some times are easier than others. I'm going through one of the biggest and hardest changes of my life. I'm sure there will be more changes that will trump this one, but I don't have that frame of reference just yet. I sure do look forward to it though.

I am suffering from a loss. Several big losses rolled into one. A house, a dog, a second family, a rural community, a comfortable lifestyle. But it was time. For whatever reason, it was time. You can rest easy knowing that I've spent days thinking, dreaming and talking about what went wrong. I've asked myself who is to blame and who will walk out of this whistling and happy and who will make the same mistakes over and over again? This doesn't really matter, of course, my friends tell me. It all takes time, others say. The one thing I know is: it hurts. A lot. For so many reasons.

Today, I arrived to work at the front desk of the yoga studio entirely too early because I'm having a hard time adjusting to a shorter commute time (it's only day two, though, I'm sure I'll get it down eventually). I asked the person working the day shift if I could go into the studio and do some meditating. This is the second time I've been on my mat to do any kind of yoga since the split. And the first time I've tried to do it alone in an empty room since I left the farm.

I had 20 minutes to spare. I was sure I'd get antsy after four. I tried different mudras, I focused on different chakras. I whispered mantras to myself. My mind cleared almost instantly. It was so thankful for a break. I allowed myself, for a short time to leave the world alone and turn inward to that pure peaceful place, that, even through all this, is still inside me. 

After awhile, my eyes fluttered open. I looked out the big arched windows at 3rd Ave in the Warehouse District. My eyes came to focus on a tree across the street. It had lost a large branch. It was resting on the sidewalk, making it hard for people to get by. While the branch looked to be a vital part of this tree, it had no leaves on it. It was dead before it fell. At first I thought, Poor tree. You're missing such a big chunk of who you are. Just like me. Then I looked at another tree on the street. It was full, big, robust and perfectly shaped. How boring, I thought. No one is paying attention to that perfect tree. But everyone keeps acknowledging the broken one. 

The lesson in this was two-fold. Very rarely, especially during a stormy time in our lives, do we stop to look at the beauty. I'm talking about the real beauty, not the well-at-least-I-have-a-place-to-live-and-good-friends beauty. But the big picture, look-up-at-the-moon-and-think-about-how-small-and-tiny-you-are-compared-to-the-rest-of-the-world kind of beauty. It's a beauty that can't be described in words. It's like how you feel when you first fall in love with someone. But instead of it being about making out and playing games with someone you're totally into, it's about giving that feeling to the state of mind you're in right now.

How beautiful is it that I can hurt this much but still get out of bed in the morning and find something to laugh about? How beautiful is it that even though this sucks so hard, I know that so many other people have it way worse and I am fortunate to be where I am for so many reasons. How beautiful is it that I was able to give myself to someone completely without ever being totally sure it would work out. There's gotta be a lotta beauty in that, right?

The other half of this lesson was in the exposed portion of the tree. That dead branch fell to leave a very internal part of this tree exposed to the sun and rain. The leaves that are growing there will flourish.

Perhaps losing this limb will water and nurture this inner part of me that I've left abandoned for...ever? It will allow this peaked, weak little part of me to grow and consume the area where that dead branch was hanging out. (Aside: I'm not maliciously trying to call my former domestic partner a dead branch, so don't read into that part too much.)

Everything happens for a reason. Time heals all. It will get better. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Next time I'm in the fetal position missing all the good times, I'm going to think of that tree, take a couple deep breaths and get on my mat. Even if it's for only two minutes. But if that experience ends up anything like this one, 20 minutes will fly right by.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

it began before it begins

Tomorrow, I will experience my first actual class that will accrue hours for my yoga teacher certification. It's a tech session, which means, there is a topic/technique/concept covered and discussed for an hour and a half. I get to pick which of these I want to take as I go along. In addition to these, I have a core session (comparable to homeroom) each week that covers the basics: anatomy, sanskrit, namas and niyamas. There are also reports due each week. In August, I'll have to report on downward facing dog and Samtosha.

On top of all that, I get to take workshops, visiting instructor weekends, and take free yoga classes - all included in my tuition. Pretty awesome.

In tomorrow's tech session, we're studying magical mudras, or hand positions. I'm very excited.

But what's so wonderful about this journey is that I haven't taken a single class yet, and those of you who read this blog have followed me so far already.
  • Before even stepping foot into a class, I'm finding myself reacting to certain situations differently. I'm stopping myself from losing my patience when I would usually let it fly off the handle.
  • I often find myself repeating: I have no control over this, so let it go. It will work itself out. I don't rush the clock, I try to find joy in the present moment, even if I'm bored out of my skull.
  • I'm eating less. By trying to focus on serving others and being selfless, I eat less because I know I only need a certain amount to get through the day. I don't need to eat so much that someone has to roll me to my next destination. 
  • In moments of conflict between friends and lovers, I've found myself admitting fault sooner with a humbled voice and heart.
  • I've noticed people peeling out of the woodwork to ask my advice, to use my listening ear, to open up to me honestly about sensitive subjects - in discussion with these people, I feel more compassionate and humbled than ever.
  • Instead of calling my friends to tell them something crazy that just happened, I am calling them just to listen because I thought of them and I wanted to know how they are doing.
  • I've also watched the function of most of my friendships change, for better and for worse. This has been one of the most emotional experiences I've ever had. 
More than anything, though. There is a lot of schtuff coming to the surface. I'm seeing all of these things I've never seen before. I'm noticing unhealthy habits, choices, fears, actions, words, and thoughts that I would usually excuse as that's just how I am behavior. But it's who I have become, not who I am. There is a really cool, pure, peaceful me underneath all that unhealthy stuff and I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to find it.

Yup. All this has happened and I haven't taken a single class yet. Imagine what classes are going to uncover. Oy-vey.