robert kieber jr. shredding the gnar at Wrightsville Beach
One of my teachers used to say to “ride the wave of the breath.” It’s a beautiful image, isn’t it? I have used it many times to reconnect with the currents of prana swirling in and out of my being.
I’m sitting here today in a different lesson. It’s riding the wave of LIFE. Geesh, do we really need to tell ourselves this? Yeah, sometimes.
I woke up with a sore in my mouth – sure sign that I’d been “processing” STUFF during my sleep. Grrr, Even yoginis can grind their teeth once in a while.
Yup, it’s one of those vata-iferous days. It’s one of those days when I have fifty-million (at least) things burbling in me pea-brain….getting ready to fly tomorrow to coastal carolina where maybe I’ll be able to see my niece and nephew in action on the high seas, or their boards….packing – not my fav chore! …just tried on my old bathing suit – definitely not my fav chore….concerned about what kind of shape my folks are in, healthwise and concerned about how they’re holding up in their home…..good stuff is shimmering up in the grey matter as well (just more fodder for vata!) : celebrating dad’s 90th on Saturday (he may not be in BKS Iyengar’s shape, but he continued to play golf until last year – go dad!)…seeing 4 of my brothers and their families…..hiking in Croatan forest and on Emerald Isle….
This is all a prelude to confessing that I FORGOT to teach a class this morning. First time in my eight years of teaching. A BIG FAT SORRY to the Village Elders. Y’all think YOU have bad memories??? I even posted a tweet not too long ago about attention and memory that is simply too embarrassing and pretentious to repeat here cuz I am eating those words with mayo this morning.
There I was happily congratulating my yoga blogging buddies: YogaDork, YogaBrooks, and Yoga for Cynics for being mentioned in August’s Yoga Journal. Sorry YJ was not magnanimous enough to give them a link on their online version; you’ll find it at the end of the print mag in the MEDIA section. It’s a nice article by Lauren Ladocouer. When I went to refill my coffee mug, the thought of teaching a class that was by then more than half over, nearly knocked me down.
What can I do but apologize and laugh at this point? Breathe slowly and MINDFULLY for a bit.Take a turn in my garden and focus on the beauty of the gazillions of flowers that are simply opening to the glory of this day.
These moments also remind me that NOTHING is really that important.
carolyn at Lake Erie State Park (David Kieber photo)
Wide Whacky Happy Relaxation
~Try to expand your idea of what relaxation is – get beyond what relaxation is – get beyond what you think should be doing.
~Bring that sense of your self back intoyour body - that precious body you have – let the twinges become a portal to your body
~Ask yourself: Am I now? – not needing to know – because the mind is not always the way to know…use the mindful questions in mini-relax sessions…Where Am I?
~Get out of your “comfort” rut – Be open to new ways of achieving relaxation e.g. read poetry instead of the newspaper or a novel
~Sometimes you need ACTIVE Relaxation like the KAlI face: Sound “ahhh” and cactus arms & stomp around to get the energy moving. You need to meet yourself where you’re at and move it to a place where you have more choice
If it’s uncomfortable/edgy, etc. – look beyond the story or specifics of the discomfort and come back to the mood behind it. Be with that feeling – just SIT with it. Don’t focus on WHY – focus on the FEELING.
The concept and practice of RETREAT goes back to the primate females separating form the tribe when they had menses, because the bleeding would attract other animals. Some say that’s when thinking began to bifurcate.
Nate relaxing in Guadalupe Mountains (Mark Knight photo)
Pema Chodron: “Things are always in transition.”
~Notice the transitions….What did my body ( my breath, mind, feelings) do when I am in a moment of change?
~This is often when the Shadowmonster . …the Time Monster takes over
~We forget that we have the right to CREATE OUR LIVES
~Pay attention to the small moment to moment transitions so we can prepare for the big ones (divorce, death, diagnosis)…WE continually practice paying attention to the small stuff. We practice LISTENING then.
~On retreat there is no pressure, so we can lean into the baby transitions and open ourselves to the invitation
~You can practice this uncertainty and apply it to other areas of your life
~Another way is to ask yourself mindful questions. Just spend a minute asking yourself…Replace the negative questions with POSITIVE ones. “Practice HONORING the right to choose your life.” What do I want. Be friendly about whatever comes up.
~Use the body and heart brain when you ask yourself mindful questions
~Just reminding yourself that you have a body is pretty monumental. The way IN is through the body. It can be simple, like massaging the ears. Then recall a positive emotion, a memory – maybe even look at beloved pics. & recall the feeling and the sensations of the time and breathe a little into those feelings. Then, from that space, you can drop the question, WHAT DO I WANT TO DO NEXT- just the next thing. What does my instinct, my feelings, my desire want to do next?
*Get audio at the life organizer.com
About deepening the retreat: the retreat usually brings up deep patterns! So it’s a time to welcome dark feelings. Write about them, draw them, observe them because you are in a safe place during retreat.
Because of all that I was, I bear only these scars.
The memory of you emerges from the night around me—
such a passion of weeping tied to my body!
While light wraps you in its mortal flame,
everything bears me farther away, as though you were noon.
Cold flower heads raining over my heart,
loneliness sustained by a constant face,
a sea of longing slices my breast into pieces─
Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed,
I am like a scorched rock,
yes: seed-germs, and grief, and every thing that throbs,
the tormenting structure of that silence:
Will you come back? Will you leave me here, dying?
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings,
we had only to love one another.
No one sees the moon that bleeds in my mouth
but when I hold you, I hold everything.
There where the waves shatter on the restless rocks
I loved you without knowing I did; I searched to remember you,
in your eyes of mourning the land of dreams begin.
I go so far as to think that you own the universe,
in you the rivers sing and my soul flees in them,
you fill everything, you fill everything.
Like a bonfire of awe in which my thirst is burning,
I send out red signals across your absent eyes.
Ah your body, a frightened statue, naked
and charged to insanity with electric currents,
in that sadness of mine that you know
I live in a harbor from which I love you,
you are like the night, with its stillness and constellations,
the biggest stars look at me with your eyes.
Invade me with your hot mouth; interrogate me─
you are my dark familiar clay.
Get used to seeing the shadow behind me, accept
that sorrow rises and falls, comes near with its deep spoons.
They’re liars, those who say I lost the moon,
I sleep with the night,
I am born again: I am the owner of my own darkness
unsuspectingly, singing with the wind.
We are the only blind ones, endlessly alone,
What a world! What a deep parsley!
or have you gone away-?-(then I’d know the winter had begun)
and that, Love, is the shadow life has given me.
What rock, what smoke showed you where I live?
Silent and limping like a scarecrow with a bloody grin,
lost in the forest, I broke off a dark twig,
this wounded springtime was blessed.
The earth has known you for a long time now,
oh, may nothing touch you but the chilly salt!
Hunting through the leaves of the night for your hands,
kiss by kiss I travel your little infinity,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond,
Love, I’ve made an inventory of your body.
Days hang like bridges between darknesses,
shimmer as orange and gasoline rainbows.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved:
like a quick stream dropping from under the snow,
and yet beyond the earth, beyond its shadowy dark
there’s nothing but light, quantities, clusters,
nothing matters or has a name,
not even the shy mineral hands of the hills.
You have vines and stars in your hair,
conquering light, you blister with your white energy,
no withering autumn ever touched us
from the rugged landscapes of cold and earthquake.
Your eyes go out to the water and the waves rise,
but love was not like that: love was a lunatic city.
In the city we wander like country people, confused,
green blood dropping from the sky into memory.
The light arrives and opens like a rose garden
on its honeysuckle feet in your bedroom,
the transmigration of dream into salad─
lost syllables that were searching for your mouth.
O love, O crazy sunbeam and purple premonition
which builds an Eden with a few green leaves,
I see your image, a bonfire, burning in the water,
I love you in order to begin to love you.
Fly: electrify the natural names of things!
I want to look back and see you in the branches,
your laugh: it reminds me of a tree,
it accompanies me through the sky,
a man’s needs, a woman’s, and a life’s,
the mind and love live naked in this house.
You learned your holiness from flour:
the you of a kiss, the me of a secret bread,
I don’t have time enough to celebrate your hair
in this metallic homeland lifted by snow,
I need the light of your energy─
what I owe you is like a well in a wilderness
…and I will die of love because I love you,
you, compact and planetary, my dove, my globe.
Tomorrow will come on its green footsteps,
a single moon drop in the grass,
what was sleeping above your soul will rise─
the numberless heart of the wind.
The day weaves and unweaves its heavenly net
of time and water and waves and noise and rain,
suddenly your heart shows me my way
and through love I will be, you will be, we’ll be.
NOTES: This form of this poem is a cento – it is composed of lines “stolen” from another poet, in this case, the great Chilean activist, lover, and writer, Pablo Neruda. Traditionally, the cento was 100 lines in length, as is my piece. I wrote this after many ruminations and meditations upon “human longing” since I am so often overcome with a sense of longing. In the poem, LOVE DOGS, the SUFI poet Jelaluddin RUMI tells us this longing is GOD’s message:
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage,
“Why did you stop praising?”
“Because I’ve never heard anything back.”
you express is the return message.”
What do you long for? How does longing play out in your asana practice? Does it turn into grasping (aparigraha)? Can you sit within that longing and accept it as an integral, even sacred part of your being? It’s a worthy practice for this life.