Tag Archives: yoga

Open Hearts

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On July 19th, I went to the movies with my brother, my son, and a friend of his. We went to see the Batman triology… 9 hours of Batman! We went to the theater just up the road from where I live. I took a picture of our special card and posted it to Facebook and, like any good social media member, tagged us at the theater. At 12:01 on the 20th we began watching the third installment: Dark Knight Rises. We dutifully turned our phones off as the movie began and settled into our seats, drinks to one side and candy to the other. After the movie, we walked out with all the other happy movie goers and made our way through the crowded parking lot to the car, not giving much thought to the policemen standing about outside the doors. Then I took Jordan’s friend home. On the way I got a text from someone in Florida asking me if we were okay. I answered in the affirmative, and then found out there had been a shooting. Did I mention I live in Aurora, Colorado?

I was slightly confused, but was very tired and went home and to bed, never checking Facebook or Google. I hadn’t seen or heard anything at the theater, but I figured I’d fill myself in after a good night’s rest.

And I did. My Facebook page was full of posts asking if we were all okay. My phone was full of text messages wondering the same thing. While I was asleep, families were grieving loss and trying to understand what had just rocked their world.

I was 10.6 miles away at another movie theater, watching the very same movie, when a killer entered the building and wreaked havoc and forever changed the lives of many.

Tonight I gathered in a yoga studio in Aurora, 6.4 miles from where lives were cut short and grief descended upon a community. But tonight we gathered for a night of yoga to honor the families that were touched by tragedy and to open our hearts to them and to each other. While a live band softly played in the studio, men and women moved in unison through asanas, breathing together and sharing in a special evening. Afterward, lying still, one teacher placed a cool lavender-scented cloth over my eyes while another began a meditation for the night. She talked about tragedy and loss and trauma. But she talked about the beautiful picture of all of us there to help support those who had suffered with our time and our donations and our open hearts, filled with compassion.

As I lay there focusing my attention on the moment, the cool towel, still smelling of calming lavender, began to mix with hot, salty tears that ran down my face. …Tonight, I leave you with this:

Lavender Mixed with Tears =Joy

Balance and Breath

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This is one of those posts that will have mixed reactions; I know because even my own thoughts on the matter have gone to opposite extremes. When you lose someone you’ve been with for two decades and that equates to more than half of your years on earth, your initial reaction is, “What the heck has happened and why didn’t someone do something to prevent this?” (In reality that was probably peppered with unladylike words, but I try to keep up royal appearances.) Your life is suddenly about loss and all it entails from your own personal grief to the tiny detail of looking at a baseball cap and wondering what to do with it, or the toothbrush that can be thrown away because it won’t be used again. For me there was also the displacement, uprooting and purging 80% of my life by donating and selling and gifting possessions that once made up a shared home. It’s a bizarre part of this thing we call life.

It’s even more strange when you are moving forward and feeling a different kind of normalcy and then something happens that throws you for a loop. I had to go to the bank to take care of some business and that involved telling the woman I was speaking to that my husband had passed away. I think we were within a few years of each other in age, and I heard a quiet, but sharp inhale and she put her hand to her chest and started telling me how sorry she was. Then she didn’t know how to look at me. She couldn’t hold eye contact. The floor was suddenly very interesting. In that moment, I was uncertain what my response was supposed to be. What is the proper reaction? Well, I immediately consulted my handbook, of course. Oh, wait… there isn’t a handbook so I had to come up with my own reaction. I smiled and said thank you and tried to hold her eyes and let her know without words that it was alright. We sat at her desk and she hurried through a few actions on her computer and then just stopped and looked at me, told me that I could leave and she’d just handle the matter. She apologized again. And then once more. I told her how much I appreciated it.

That’s happened more than once, but not to that degree. I don’t mean to be callous, but I really wanted to say, “I’m doing really well and I have a lot to do today so that will be great.” Ouch. That seems harsh when I read it.

As I’ve moved through my days, I have stopped making any mention of being married, unless the situation warrants it. The explanations and the pushing for further information in some instances are difficult and put me on the spot. (Have I mentioned I’m an introvert?… yeah, we really don’t like being put on the spot. I’d rather have an email or text that I can mull over for a day or so.)  It’s not that I don’t think of Brian or miss him. It’s really that when I watched him take his last breath and then I held his box of ashes in my hands, I realized the utter finality of it all, just as he had explained to me from day one. There is no going back and doing anything over. There is not changing the outcome. There is no “I wish” and “if only” and “but we could have.” There is death. And then there is life moving on.

Part of that for me has been figuring out what in the world to do with my days. Well, school starts next week and I’m still a homeschool mom for one more year. The curriculum has been purchased, the schedule for the first semester made (which will in turn be changed numerous times because that’s how we roll). I have a job that also occupies my time and makes me feel oh-so-productive and good, plus I work for a super cool chick! I have a load of writing on my plate to do with a self-proclaimed deadline of May 31, 2013. I have a little blog that is slowly gaining a following and that I hope to turn into a business. I have taken two little vacations to rejuvenate and goof off and catch up with friends, old and new.

And last week I realized that if I want to, I am allowed to do whatever I want. For me that meant going to the yoga studio seven days a week. Until last week I honestly thought I didn’t have that kind of freedom. I mean, who does that? That’s what I asked myself. And then I thought… me. And it’s okay. That’s part of what this time of my life is about now and I can’t make excuses and tell myself that it’s selfish and uncaring and unsympathetic. So, I decided that for now, I’m going to work my little tail off every day with work and school and duties and dreams. And every night of the week I’m going to stretch and breathe and balance. And every weekend I’m going to carve out time to do the same, stretching my body as well as my mind, breathing in all that’s around me right now and balancing my life and limbs as best I know how. And I’m going to do that seven days a week, for now, because I can. Because I want to. And for now, that means I need to.

Balance and Breath = Joy

On The Mat

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Today I took my first yoga class in about seven months. It was… ahhhh… that’s a description, right? There were six of us in the warm, humid room. After being off the mat for a while I wasn’t sure how I’d feel. It can be frustrating to not be able to hold a pose and feel the wobble in your feet or knees. For one hour I practiced my poses and also my focus, keeping my eyes trained forward as much as I could.

There’s always that temptation, though, to look around and peek at what others are doing. It’s easy to feel bad when your posture is corrected or you lose your balance or you have to come out of a pose early. On the flip side, it’s easy to get a little full of yourself when you strike a near-perfect pose and you don’t wobble at all, when things seem effortless.

The instructor I had in Fort Myers was tough. He called us out for incorrect postures, clunky movements, not pushing ourselves, looking at others, and not focusing on our own practice. He reminded us that yoga is about you, not the person next to you, and that it’s about the practice, not the perfection.  I was flipping through a magazine a few days ago and saw a little blurb from Portia de Rossi that related yoga and life. When you look at someone next to you and berate yourself for not being able to stretch as fully or hold that pose as long, you have to tell yourself, “Stay on your own mat.” True in yoga. True in life.

We beat ourselves up with the weapon of comparison. The better choice might be to simply acknowledge the lovely differences in everyone and appreciate the complexity of the human race. How boring it would be if we were all the same. There would be no wonder, no awe. There would also be no compassion or tenderness. Sounds pretty dull to me.

So, during class today, I deliberately tried to focus on my own practice and stay on my own mat. Every now and then I found myself sneaking a peek at one of the other students who held beautiful poses, a little twinge of jealousy trying to creep in. I had to turn back and refocus. Midway through, I found that place of focus and as I left to go about my day, I just appreciated the fact that there were six very different people who came together to do some yoga, each of us at a different place in our practice, just as in our lives. There was great joy in staying on my own mat.

Your Own Mat = Joy