Back on the Mat
This morning I dropped the kids off in record time and made it to an Om Shala yoga class. It has been a few months since I have been on the mat, mostly because of range of motion issues and increased daily activities with other types of appointments and obligations. It was great to be back. Really great. It was nice to be “om-ing” and singing the anusara invocation with the class. I did not realize how much I missed yoga.
I debated back and forth about the best Friday morning class for me where I am today. Inner Freedom Yoga with Robin or Om Shala with Patrick? Who happen to be partners in life btw. In life I mean as opposed to business. You know, the soulmate type of partner. (While I appreciate why people don’t use the terms husband and wife, I am often confused by is it a business partnership or the other kind. They may even be comfortable with the husband and wife term….I don’t even know though if they are officially married but I am getting beside the point it does not really matter anyway). Bottom line, they are both excellent yoga instructors and studios. Patrick is substituting for Peggy while she is in India for many months.
ANYWAY. I opted for Patrick’s class because on Friday morning it is a Level 1-2 and Robin’s on Friday is a bit more challenging Level 2. I love both classes and hope to be up to the more challenging asanas soon.
If you are unfamiliar with Anusara yoga, after the invocation/centering which recognizes the grace-bestowing power of Universal spirit within and around us, each class has a heart-opening theme which connects our asana practice to the grander spiritual purpose. Today’s theme revolved around suffering and recognizing our individual suffering as part of the more universal suffering that everyone suffering experiences. In doing this it diminishes ego and actually allows your suffering to become less “important “(for lack of better word) or “unique” (again for lack of better word). Patrick explained it with more clarity and grace, as does Pema Chodron whom I have mentioned in, I think, my very first post regarding this very same spiritual idea.
I think the idea is that letting go in this way, in my specific situation makes the acceptance of the diagnosis and situation easier, and then non-attachment follows. So non-attachment to the way things should be, non-attachment to the outcome (this one is harder for me obviously, but also important). Non-attachment is such a good way to live.
Rachel Naomi Remen in Kitchen Table Wisdom talks about finding “a sort of willingness to show up for whatever life may offer and meet with it rather than wishing to edit and change the inevitable”. She says that she has seen this attitude of many of her patients who seem to become more intensely alive, intensely present. They tend to not reject the pain or suffering life has revealed, but instead let go of their preferences and as one of her patients put it, “live with the intense awareness of the miracle of the moment”, or as another states, “When you are walking on thin ice, you might as well dance”. She then goes on to describe her new definition of joy that she has learned form such people.
I had thought joy to be rather synonymous with happiness, but it seems now to be far less vulnerable than happiness. Joy seems to be a part of an unconditional wish to live, not holding back because life may not meet our preferences and expectations. Joy seems to be a function of the willingness to accept the whole, and to show up to meet with whatever is there. It has a kind of invincibility that attachment to any particular outcome would deny us. Rather the warrior who fights toward a specific outcome and therefore is haunted by the specter of failure and disappointment, it is the lover drunk with the opportunity to love despite the possibility of loss, the player for whom playing has become more important than winning or losing. The willingness to win or lose moves us out of an adversarial relationship to life and into a powerful kind of openness. From such a position, we can make a greater commitment to life. Not only a pleasant life, or comfortable life, or our idea of life, but all of life. Joy seems more closely related to aliveness than to happiness.
Well said. It was too good to not copy word for word. I hope it resonates with you in some area where you experience some form of suffering in your life, and that you experience this type of joy (even without a life threatening illness!).
As far as the asana part of practice, my range of motion was remarkably awesome and yoga felt so incredibly good for my body and mind. It was a playful class, and a playful class often means an upside down class which ended up making me nauseated and a bit light headed half way through. My goal became to not vomit and I quickly and effectively employed anti-nausea techniques learned from acupuncture, qigong and Jin Shin Jyutsu (holding pressure points mostly). I spent some time in child’s pose and rolling around on my deserving kidneys and was able to return to the asanas once the other yogis became upright. I think next time I need to eat a slightly bigger breakfast way ahead of time.
I am feeling great. Chemotherapy Round #1 barely put a dent in me as far as I can see. My only issue, besides tolerable nausea and fatigue, is a low white blood cell count. If you see me in public I will not be giving you a physical hug, but instead an energetic hug from a distance. I cannot risk getting sick with my counts such as they are, and in fact am on antibiotics for the cough that I have had for a while.
I leave this coming Sunday for Chemotherapy Round #2.