Ode to joy

I have been, in general, a very happy person for all of my life.  When my parents tell me I was a perfect child I never think they are joking.  When people have teased me for replying “fabulous” when asked how I am, it often confused me since I am, for the most part feeling fabulous almost all of the time!!!  The few times in my past where I truly felt deeply unhappy, and had profoundly unsettling feelings that my life was lacking the joyousness that ordinarily filled me up to overflowing, were times when I did not listen to that little guiding light/gut feeling/voice in my head…that all knowing sense of truth that so many of us try to think our brain knows better than…It doesn’t.  That little voice is the biggest guide and moral compass we have to knowing what is right and what is wrong, in general, and FOR our very own being, and for some incredibly inconceivable reason, so many of us, so many times in our lives, ignore it or try to hush it or quiet the message…when it’s really the most important voice in the universe.

The other morning I took my third yoga class of the month since joining a new yoga studio in the area.  Not the 3rd class of my entire life, but good grief did it sure feel like it!!!  For a woman who once used to be a girl who did flying splits, and who stood up against walls and laid her head upon her knees, and used to do leg extensions in door jambs, and be able to lay her forehead on the floor in front of her in a straddle position, I moved, these last three classes, like a woman who has been in a coma or some sort of vegetative state for the last 33 years!!!  R*’s flexibility seems to have devolved to ZERO, despite having a physical job, I clearly lost much if not all of my physical fitness over these last many years.  I can write and speak from experience that the well known expression, “use it or lose it” is absolutely applicable in this instance of flexibility and strength and endurance.  I’ve not used it enough and I am starting from scratch, as far as my body is concerned, as far as flexibility and strength and stamina are concerned!!!  I am hoping that muscle memory is real and one of these classes the old me, who was so strong and so flexible is going to burst back to the surface…but this blog is not about any of those things… I had a very emotional and somewhat strange “hippie dippie” experience in class and wanted to share it…

Three women who I loved very much died this last year; my friend Susan last December, my Mimom in March, and my friend Candyce in October.  My friend Susan and I had not seen each other in years, my Mimom and I had grown apart over the years after she moved out of state, and my friend Candyce was a real friend but who I never met in the flesh, but the relationships were loving and important to me for as long as they lasted. Each woman mattered to me, each in her own different way and none are of this earth anymore. The song that was playing at yoga was very meditative.  It had a line that went something like “I love, love, love you more than ever before” and I was in this pose on my back, with my legs bent and crossed and with my hands grabbing my feet and pulling my knees into my armpits (yes, really, that is what the instructor said) and the words of the song were vibrating in me, like deep in my core, and I had this thought that, at that moment, I loved my own self and my own life more than ever before…like everything was aligned.  And then, this strange tingle, sort of buzz kind of feeling, started in each of my feet and each of my hands and I swear that it felt like I could “feel” the voices of these women at all of my corners and edges…like loving me and encouraging me to love me…it was like a hum, or a buzz, but deep inside of me, and I heard swirls and notes of words and phrases but none that were clear, and yet they all were clear, even though they were all overlapping…it was like all these vibrant colors and no colors, all under my skin…and then when the instructor said to slowly sit up and slowly open our eyes, as I opened my eyes, these hot tears just spilled out down my cheeks…I did not feel sad, I felt so full…it was strange and wonderful and magical and very wierd.

A few years ago when I was struggling to find balance in my brain, my friend Donna mailed me a book called “Meditations from the Mat” and it was full of short stories, some poems, some mantras, but all culminating in the importance of quieting the mind and how to think, or not think, and the use of yoga for both physical and mental well being.  When I read parts of the book years ago, I don’t know that I “got” it, but I must write with honesty that at yoga on Sunday, during this intense feeling of perfect-ness, I think I understood the point of the book…the brain is magical, and I think when we learn to train our brain to focus on the beautiful bits of life, and what feels so good, rather than any of the negative, or mad, or sad bits of life, that don’t feel good at all, we are better for it.  I am leaving the house now to go to yoga before work, just like I did yesterday, and I don’t know what I will feel while I am there, and I don’t know if any of these women will come to me again in this way, but I got the message loud and clear…my joy is pure and it comes from a place of pure love, and I found it inside of me, on my back and on a mat…



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