This past week, I read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. This particular passage resonated with me, “Sometimes I think it’s better to suffer bitter unhappiness and to fight and to scream out, and even to suffer terrible pain, than just to be. . .safe. At least we know we are living.”
With those words in my head, I revisited yoga for the first time in many, many years. My struggle to embrace an authentic peace are often disturbed by the daily pull of what isn’t rather than what is. As I unfolded my purple mat, I hesitated. I tried yoga on and off about eight years ago. It didn’t pull me in. Instead, I watched the hands of my watch move, rather than focus on the subtle strength of the poses. I didn’t pay attention to my breathing, but scanned the crowd to determine if anyone else had the same look of distraction. After forty minutes, the mind didn’t quiet, but grew more restless. My goal of achieving a more meditative spirit didn’t materialize.
Since that time, many have told me about the power of yoga. It’s ability to soothe and comfort and create a more meditative state. The last few months, the word, unsafe has strummed in my heart. The reason for this is my reluctance to accept the beat of what is and the uncertainty it sometimes forecasts. The discomfort of this constant mulling of the past and a need to shake the magic eight ball to determine what may happen in the future hums in my head and heart. It’s an unsafe place to stay too long. And I tire of living in this in-between, not really in this moment state.
The teacher directed us to lay flat on our mat. Breathing in and out, she commanded us to let go of the past and the future. She asked us to embrace the possibility of being present in this moment and let our whole body feel the magnitude of that thought. The first few moments were not safe for me. I felt that same feeling, the restlessness, distraction, and irritability. But what happened after the first warrior pose, surprised me. I began to sink into the feeling of being unsafe. As I my right foot slipped, the left began to tremble and I had to touch the floor to regain my balance. In one quick succession, I stood, fell, held on, let go, and regained my balance. As I extended my hands again, a Mona Lisa smile tickled my face. My breath felt still. I meditated on what just happened and let myself swallow how far I had come.
There are parts of my life that feel very unsafe right now. But for the first time, I learned that being able to experience this is what I need to remember.