I took a yoga class on Tuesday with one of my dearest, sweetest friends and teachers, Katie Hill.
There was the usual invitation to set an intention, something I usually brush off with a bullshit thing like “I’ll be present each moment.” (which is not intrinsically bullshit, it’s just a cop out, rookie answer for me. I’ve learned to be present. I’ve also learned how to manipulate the present so that it’s tolerable.)
I’ll tell you what my intention ended up being, but first, a quick digression … Many of you know that I haven’t practiced yoga asana regularly in a long time for several reasons —
First is a neurological/pain issue. To keep it short: symmetrical, bilateral movement has the effect of leaving my right shoulder/neck relatively crippled. (Check out this blog by Doc Cobb over at Z Health) I’ve just recently learned how to modify yoga postures to adjust for this, and I’m not always comfortable stepping outside a teacher’s sequence to the extent that I need to in order to stay pain-free. God bless Katie Hill and Alex Pfieffer for giving me that space.
Second is an irritation issue. The way that Yoga has been adapted to fit Western ideas of exercise and movement is not a good fit for my current state. My soul has been crying out for a connection to the Infinite in a real way and Western Vinyasa flow “yoga” has felt like a slap in the face. There’s just no space for the depth of human pain or the experience of That Which Is … something so much bigger than “the burn in your thigh… hold warrior II just a little longer!” fuck that noise, quite frankly.
(I’m fully aware of the fact that I probably just offended a large yoga constituency. sorry not sorry.)
And the last – and most real reason – is that I’m afraid of myself. I am in a lifelong relationship with someone that I’ve never bothered to actually get to know, and we’re locked in a very real struggle right now. I want to connect (see above) and that means learning the Infinite and Divine that is my own heart. And my own heart is protected by fear and really fucked up beliefs.
aaaaaand we’re back.
My “intention” at the beginning of this class, lit by the kind of golden sunset that only happens in the midwest, was simply “I love you.” A quiet dedication to the part of me that I’m wanting to know. And instead of the cliche “coming back to your breath” i came back to I. LOVE. YOU. i love YOU. ILOVEYOU! over and over and over.
You know that feeling when your partner says “I love you” for the first time or the 5,000,000th time and something in you settles? Because you know you’re OK and all is right with the world? I got that fucking feeling. That bone-deep sense of care and soul-rightness. I can’t explain it, and I won’t tell you that it was something I expected or can repeat on command.
But I was laying in savasana and Fear showed up with her bloodshot eyes and snarled hair, Anxiety stomped through in her stiletto boots and stabby words, Sadness poured in through the cracks in my heart. My knee-jerk response?
“Hello, Fear. Thank you for being a part of Me. I love you.”
“Anxiety. Wow. Um. Thank you? Shit. I actually do love you.”
“Sadness. You are so loved.”
This is the kind of thing that I read from other people and think “yeah. good for you. also, I’m calling psychobabble bullshit.” But I simply had the most unexpected compassion for these parts of me that have given (and taken) so much over the years. So the questions are, I suppose:
What parts of your deepest self do you think you hate? reject? run from?
What would happen if you spent 5 seconds or 5 minutes or a whole yoga class meditating on the mantra “I love you.” (I can tell you there are points in my life where it would NOT have gone well, so there’s some honesty.)