Waiting

Waiting

“You take it on faith, you take it to the heart, the waiting is the hardest part.” ~ Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 

It was the middle of the week in the middle of summer, a hot and quiet Wednesday.

I was working from home, waiting for a delivery that would require my signature. I woke up, made some coffee and answered some emails from my kitchen table. Then I cooked up some eggs and took a shower. I was cozy at home, but part of me couldn’t help feeling a little stuck. Knowing that I had to wait at home was making me think of everything else I could be doing instead.

I’ve never really been that good at waiting. Waiting is something that I’ve had to learn how to do, and even when I’m able to do it well, that doesn’t always mean that I’ll be able to do it well again. Waiting is work for me. It’s one of those basic skills that I’d wished had been taught in school. If that had been the case, then, surely, I’d be better at it by now! Although I’m not so sure what kind of class that would have been. What would we have done? Would we have just sat at our desks, waiting? What would we have been waiting for?

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Repeating Numbers

Repeating Numbers

“A B C. It’s easy as 1 2 3, as simple as do re mi, A B C, 1 2 3 … “ ~ ABC, Jackson Five

I was at yoga the other night for an eight o’clock class, and, for the first time in years, the instructor was running late. But that was okay with us, as we ourselves had lost track of time. We were all happily seated in the practice room, visiting each other’s mats, chatting and catching up from the week.

The door finally opened. It was the instructor. 

“I’m so sorry I’m late,” she said. “It’s already 8:08!”

808 is a significant number for me. When I was a little girl, my parents encouraged my siblings and I to learn our home address by heart. That way, if we were ever to get lost, we would be able to tell someone where we lived. Our street number was 808, an easy enough number to remember. I remember practicing my address earnestly, reciting it over and over, like the words of a favorite song. As a result, the lyrics embedded themselves so deeply in my consciousness that, to this day, 808 is a number that’s as fresh in my mind as it was when I was a child.     

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Golden Blessings

Golden Blessings

“I say a little prayer for you. Forever, and ever, you’ll stay in my heart …” ~ I Say a Little Prayer For You, Aretha Frannklin

I have a buddha in a bubble! My children surprised me with a snow globe, and it’s home to a beautiful golden buddha. He sits inside in his peaceful womb, surrounded by sparkles as gold as he is.  

I’ve placed him on my vanity where I can see him every day. In the mornings, I pick him up, give him a good shake, and watch as the vanity lights illuminate the sparkles, while they spin around in a glittering dance to start the day. They swirl every which way and then gently descend, landing softly on his head and on his shoulders, in his hands and in his lap, around his seat and even on his feet.

The buddha is seated, just like I am at the end of my yoga practice.

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Compassion

Compassion

“Well this good I’ve found, I spent all this time tryna find my way here.” ~ This Feeling, Alabama Shakes

It’s almost dark, and I’m looking at the world from upside down.

I am dripping in a backbend in a room that’s heated to almost 100 degrees. Upside down in my arc, I look out the back windows and see people gliding by, taking footsteps on the sky. A little girl stops to wave. She wants to say hi.

This is the peak of the practice. We’ve finished all of the standing poses, and we’ve warmed up our backs on the mats. We’ve rounded our spines in Camel and Locust and Bow, and we’ve already done our first Bridge. And now the count is on for Wheel.

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Rise

Rise

Come with me. Leave yesterday behind and take a giant step outside your mind.” ~ Take a Giant Step, The Monkees

It’s been a long day.

I arrive home from work and grab a quick bite and am about to go upstairs to my room in order to change into my yoga clothes for my evening practice.

But to leave the kitchen and get to the steps, I have to pass the most comfortable chair in the house. It’s big and soft and green, and it fits me perfectly. I often sit with my feet propped up on its matching hassock, or, more often, I sit sideways with my shoulders propped up on one side and my legs hanging over the other.

Needless to say, I don’t quite make it to the steps. I sit down in the chair instead and cover myself with a quilt, thinking I still have a few minutes to watch a little television.

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Agony

Agony

This is agony, but it’s still a thrill for me. ~ Agony, Paloma Faith

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

These are the words of the great poet and storyteller, Maya Angelou. I’m guessing she knew a thing or two about agony, because she spent her lifetime writing her stories.

By comparison, I’ve only spent about a moment of mine. And that’s because, before yoga, I didn’t even know I had any stories inside of me, much less any kind of agony.

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Space

Space

“I’ll rise up, in spite of the ache. I’ll rise up, and I’ll do it a thousand times again.” ~ Rise Up, Andra Day

My daughter had a tragic loss that's left a gaping space. And so I’m spending time beside her, as she struggles to find her place.

In yoga, I hear so much about space. We’re supposed to make space, clear space and even hold space. When I first started practicing, I didn’t understand. But soon the practice grabbed a hold of me, and, like a key, it opened up a space inside. And it’s in this space where all my incremental shifts take place.

My daughter’s world has shifted. She’s lost her love. Without warning, the man who was always there was suddenly nowhere. And even though she knows he’s gone, she can’t help but try to find him. She searches for him and yearns for him and wants to talk to him.

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Peace

Peace

For out on the edge of darkness there runs the peace train. ~ Peace Train, Cat Stevens

A new instructor had arrived on the scene, and instead of bowing with a Namaste, he put his hands in prayer with something new to say.

“Om Shanti. Peace. Peace. Peace.”

After several years of practice I was surprised not to have heard these words before! In fact, I could hardly hear them now, because he seemed to murmur them more so to himself than to the rest of us.

I wondered what he knew that I didn’t, and so when I got home I looked up the chant on the Internet.

I’d already learned about the word, Om. We say it all the time. It represents the universe, and it means everything. It’s all the colors and all the sounds and even all the moments in time.

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Polka Dots

Polka Dots

And here’s the hand my trusty friend, and gives a hand o’ thine! ~ Auld Lang Syne

It’s the holiday season, and it’s dark and cold. And on this night it’s rainy, too.

I pick up some sushi after work and gratefully arrive home, changing out of my clothes and warming up in a quick, hot bath. Then I go downstairs to turn on the television and pour a glass of wine, quickly deciding not to go to yoga, even though that’s been my usual spot on this night for the past few years.

I text my friend to let her know I’ll be absent from my mat. I’m already tucked into another of my usual spots, the space between the sofa and the coffee table. With so much seating in this room, I rarely take an actual seat. I’m a perfect fit in this cozy nook, and it’s often ideal for watching TV or eating a meal.

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Sound & Silence

Sound & Silence

Created in this image so God live[s] through us … only love, love, love can reboot us. ~~ Wake Up Everybody, Common, Melanie Fiona, John Legend, The Roots

I’ve written a lot about my love of power vinyasa and Rocket yoga, but I haven’t written too much about another kind of yoga I’ve only recently discovered. It’s called Jivamukti.

A Jivamukti instructor subbed our Rocket class, and I found myself with my fellow rocketeers stumbling over his opening chants. I’d never chanted before.

The instructor took us through all the familiar poses, but in a quieter and more deliberate way. His voice was soothing and so was his music. It was a practice that was intense yet gently settling, and I found it to be the perfect complement to the rest of my yoga regimen.

So I went looking for more.

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Shapes

Shapes

And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, well it’s a hard, and it’s a hard. It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall. ~ A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Leon Russell

I love the rain. I love any kind of rain.

In fact, the other day after practice, the skies opened up in what I can only describe as a deluge. All the yogis hovered inside the door, waiting for the rain to let up. I wished everybody a good night and flowed right through them like a river into the ocean, eagerly heading out.

I was drenched by the time I reached my car and had to wrap myself in yoga towels for the ride home!

So when I saw that a fellow blogger had written a post titled, The Rain, I clicked on it in the same eager way as I had stepped out into that storm. I was anxious to see what she had to say about the rain.

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Ghosts

Ghosts

I always feel like someone’s watching me. Tell me, is it just a dream? ~ Somebody’s Watching Me, Rockwell

I believe in ghosts.

There. I said it. And lots of other people do, too. I know this because I picked up some chips and guacamole the other night after yoga, and on the bag was written an essay, titled, Two Minutes About Ghosts, by the author Amy Tan.

Ghosts are among us, she writes. And she counts herself as one of what she says is 42 percent of Americans who believe in ghosts, too.

I have followed Amy Tan as a writer. She writes captivating stories about the intricacies of families throughout many generations. And it’s no matter who is alive and who is not. Her characters love and argue and whisper and holler, often from one realm and into the other.

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SUP!

SUP!

Say yes, say yes, say yes. ~ Say Yes, Langhorne Slim

I was having an ordinary day as part of an ordinary weekend as part of an ordinary week.

For me, it’s the ordinary that’s extraordinary. I find it calming. With a good bit of anxiety behind me, the ordinary provides precious equanimity. That’s why I adore my regular schedule, because it’s so easy to flow when I know where to go.  

I have one yoga instructor who requests at the end of each practice that we be grateful for what most might say is ordinary. After a rigorous practice, she asks us to put our hands in prayer and be thankful for the ability to move on the mat and even for the clarity of our minds.

So several times a week, I put my hands on my heart and recognize the extraordinary in the ordinary.

It just so happened that on this ordinary day I received a group text from a fellow yogi. She wanted to know if we’d like to go down to the river early the next morning for Stand-Up Paddle Boarding (SUP).

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Imagination

Imagination

We are stardust, we are golden. We are billion years old carbon. And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.

~ Woodstock, Crosby, Stills & Nash

I’ve been looking at the sky since I was a little girl.

I look up when I leave the house in the morning, and I look up when I arrive home in the evening. All throughout the day, all I have to do is look out the window. Our offices occupy the top floor of a building, so I get to work right in the sky!

Really, if it were possible to keep my eyes open, I’d watch the stars all night.

There is some kind of tie between yoga and the heavens. It’s taken me a while to figure this out, but for me there seems to be a connection between the practice and what’s going on up there. This seems to be what grounds me.

If I try to put this into words, I’d say the sky is limitless, and when I move on the mat, I feel limitless, too.

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Keppe

Keppe

Kiss me on my eyelids, make bad things go away. Kiss me on my forehead, make everything okay. ~ Kissalude, Basement Jaxx

When I was little, I didn’t really have a forehead. I had a keppe instead.

Keppe is the Yiddish word for forehead. As a child, I was always kissed on the keppe, and I was tucked in at night with instructions to put my keppe in the pillow. If I was ever hurt, a kiss on the keppe would always make things better.

Of course, my children grew up with kisses on their keppes, too, and I’d tuck them in at night with a game, a kind of Goodnight Moon for the senses. I’d call out and point to the parts of their faces, starting with their noses, followed by a light tap on each. I’d say eye and other eye, and they’d turn their faces toward mine and close their lids for another tap; then, one cheek and next the other, then their ears, their mouths and chins. And finally, the keppe, and they’d let me put my hand on their brows and rock them goodnight on their pillows.

It was a game of acknowledgement, and they never tired of it. In a few moments with just these parts, we named and recognized all that was them.

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New Again

New Again

This is for the ones who stand, for the ones who try again, for the ones who need a hand, for the ones who think they can.~ Comes and Goes (In Waves), Greg Laswell

My handstands had left the building.

My yoga schedule was off, and so was my usual inclination to go upside down.

My handstands were missing, and I didn’t know how to find them. And I wondered if rearranging the furniture hadn’t actually been the best idea. After all, the armoire against which I’d practice my handstands had left the building, too. Maybe that was the reason?

It was a Monday night, and I arrived at practice for the first time in a week. I set up my mat and told the instructor what had happened, that my handstands had disappeared. It was not the first time they’d gone missing, and it made me feel back at Square One.

When you ask who’s new tonight, I said,  I may not raise my hand, but I’m the one who’s new again.

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Fierce

Fierce

What’s in a name? That which we call a  rose by any other name would smell as sweet. ~Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare

I met a man named Adeoye.

I’d met him before. He works in a store I frequent when I arrive at yoga too early and need a place to go before class.

I didn’t know his name then. He is a beautiful man, with a beautiful voice and smile to match, who serves as the greeter for the store.

And he does a good job greeting. I even remember what he said the first time he greeted me. He paid me a compliment. He told me I looked fierce.

I smiled back and thanked him. It was early on a weekend morning, and I was feeling far from fierce. I was dressed in a hodgepodge outfit with my hair half done. I had blown out my bangs but left the rest to dry in every direction. Wearing barely any makeup, I had on my yoga gear and what I call my supersonic socks, the rugby socks my son had bought while backpacking abroad. Emblazoned with the words,

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Bareness

Bareness

Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities. Forget about your worries and your strife. ~ The Bare Necessities, The Jungle Book

I usually get up and get dressed every morning, except for Saturdays. On Saturday mornings, I get up and get undressed.

This is the morning of my hot yoga practice, and it’s a bare one. The room is fairly bare. There’s a big Om on the wall, but that’s all. I am almost bare, my pants are cropped and so is my top. Even the instructor’s mat is bare. It lies empty while he teaches from all corners of the room.

It’s just too hot for any sort of cover. One step into the room, and the heat has already stripped away whatever I may have on. By the time I unroll my mat, I’ve no choice but to be there bare.

On this particular Saturday, it is overcast and quiet and, somehow, at just one day past Halloween, it is already a true November. There’s a chill in the air and the wind is blowing, baring the trees of their leaves that have only recently begun to change. At this early hour, downtown has yet to be dressed, too, and I easily find parking in the empty streets.

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UNFOLD YOUR MAT, UNFOLD YOURSELF

UNFOLD YOUR MAT, UNFOLD YOURSELF

It's said that yoga can open up a person. It did that for me, and out came 270 pages! My book is up on Amazon (available here)! It's a collection of my essays, edited into sections of 15 Healing Truths. I am very grateful to my teachers and my fellow yogis and my readers for helping to make this happen. 

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