Where it’s at…Turns out, it’s on my mat…A few weeks ago one of my yoga teachers was struggling with a difficult decision and she commented that sometimes “life gets lifey,” and for her, reconnecting her brain and body and getting on her mat is where she most feels revived. I realized that, while I am very new to the practice of yoga, it’s holding true for me too. I feel most “right” anymore when I am in the yoga studio. I think to myself, EVERY time I leave a class, “if I could spend hours a day doing this, I would” THAT is how good it feels to me; my brain and my body equally, and I feel like if I didn’t have to work I would be there every day, and believe me, there are few places I EVER want to be other than in my house!! We ALL, no matter our gender, wealth, job, or family, have moments when life gets lifey don’t we?? To my ears, and way of thinking, it was one of the best expressions I might have ever heard…it made me think about how important it is to have a place where you feel GOOD when life gets lifey…
Our teachers often read aloud to us at yoga and I love for a class to begin this way because then, if I find my mind wandering during our 75 minutes together, when I go back to my breath, I also go back to the words that were read, and I like thinking about them and what they might mean to me, or for me, or often, how they might alter the way I interact with others. Recently the text was something about “being” where you want to be; living the life you feel proud of, or glad for, or intend to live. Perhaps it was about authenticity, as I suppose we all read into the readings because we color the words with our own desires or regrets or understanding. We can only comprehend from where we are. The teacher asked about, and I’m paraphrasing here, “if you were to die today, were you living the life you wanted to be living” and I realized that there is very little that is not what I want it to be…what an amazing thing to think about during the weeks of a new year and after the weeks of thanks, and giving; this time of a year, Thanksgiving and Christmas and then the fresh start of a new calendar page often feels like a jumble of just this, gratitude and generosity. I have both in abundance.
I have moved into a zone of womanhood that for most of my adult life seemed unattainable or unavailable, and “having it all” sounds so grandiose and I don’t mean it to be…but the reading at yoga made me think really hard about where I am right now, and honestly it’s where there is really very little that needs to change, and what does need changing is totally within my control. The things I want to be different in my life are things that I have the power to make different. I am well aware that this makes me unfairly lucky. I know two very dear friends who right now WANT things to change NOW, in a BIG way, but the circumstances are that these things can’t change, no matter how much they wish otherwise, there is nothing either of them can do to make that happen…it is a feeling of “guilt” that I have sometimes when I speak to both of these women…that they are utterly exhausted from having to deal with difficult circumstances and here I am going to yoga and feeling healed by crystal bowls, taking granddaughters to dance and cheer, coming and going as I please, just flowing through an unfairly easy mid-life at the moment…How marvelous for me, when so many do not have that luxury…too many people are in situations, many through no fault of their own, that they don’t want to be in and can’t fix…how lucky I feel that I am not, at present, one of them. It makes me deeply empathetic and so grateful…What an extraordinary place to find oneself at mid life. I am however, WELL aware that at any moment, on any day, this can change…I might feel free at this hour, in this house, but in a split second things could be very different and very uneasy…which I suppose is yet another reason I feel so lucky to enjoy the lovely moments as they come and go through the days of my life.
When life got lifey in my teens and twenties I used to write, feverishly so, for hours in my journals if I needed to, until my mind felt “right” again. In my thirties and forties I used to do aerobics and kick boxing, and sometimes punch and kick that bag with the ferociousness of a crazy person until my mind felt “right” again. Here I am now, starting the years of my 50’s and discovering yoga makes my mind feel “right” again even on days when it doesn’t feel wrong in any way at all! Thinking and breathing are two things that we HAVE to do to stay alive and I feel pretty strongly that if I can find a way to do both of them better, that’s a good thing!!! I honestly did not expect to like yoga at all when I first joined, and I had no idea that there would be days that I was dripping with so much sweat my feet and hands would slip&slide, or that I would be strengthening my core and biceps just as much as I used to doing high impact cardio, or as a dancer or cheerleader when I was young. I had no idea that the minutes of meditation and stillness would be as beneficial as the movement and flow. I had no idea what yoga classes involved, or that it would help create such changes in me.
Our family motto about “tomorrow you could be run over by a pie wagon” is something of a joke, but it turns out, by joking about it, I live it. If I died today I would feel pretty great about how hard I loved the people I love, and how hard I worked for the people who employ me, and how hard I tried to be a good daughter, good mother, and good nana…those roles that I have taken very seriously, I think I have performed them well, and with good intentions…I no longer really ever wish to be better than anybody but the me I was yesterday. When the yoga teacher asked if we were living the life we intended to live, I felt really good about answering, “yes.” I feel good about the life I am living. If today was my last day I would feel like I didn’t need to apologize to anybody, or ask for forgiveness for anything, or suffer with the fullness of deep regrets. What freedom. What a gift. What magic. What a thing to discover; the life you are living is a good life. The values you’ve thought were important to build your moral compass make you feel like you have been responsible for the goodness in your life. Reflecting on that, on my mat, breath in-breath out, is magic.
My home has always been something of a sanctuary where I feel most right and most true; when my house gets disrupted or things are not where I want them, or how I want them, I feel it physically…I get a splitting headache and I get anxious when I start to sense that the disorder around me is growing and I don’t feel “good” until I fix it. This might sound odd but it is perfectly normal for me, but these last two years it turns out that on my back, on my mat, is another place where I truly feel “good” and find that I am totally comfortable, and it’s where I feel like I belong…this is a big deal, to me. We live in a world where it’s often all want-want-want me-me-me busy-busy-busy…on to the next thing…go-go-go…on the mat, breathing, it’s about nothing but being on the mat, breathing. One can be consumed with worries about TOO MANY things to count, one can be consumed with upsets about TOO MANY things to count, but when one is listening to the Sat Nam mantra there is nothing…It loosely translates into being your own truth, and finding that you are at peace with the life you have created when your teacher asks, “if you were to die today,” is a most splendid place to find yourself as you’ve recently started another trip around the sun and a year has ended and a new one has begun. “I can’t believe I am this old and having this much joy” is a frequent thought for me. That’s magic. That’s good medicine. I’ve often been told that I seem to always look on the bright side, so maybe that is part of the equation that makes life hard to solve for some people…silver lining seeking 101 might be a more necessary study for us all!