Insights From My Beloved River

Normally, I take class on Thursdays at noon. But today, I stayed home, slept in, and then later headed out to the Potomac River with my kayak, to ground in its healing, though very murky waters...

Last week during the Anusara Teacher's Gathering, Todd Norian, one of my favorite certified teachers, did a mini-class on using themes in an effective manner - which is at the heart of every Anusara class. First, as a musician, Todd illustrated the many styles and layers to how John Friend uses themes, and it was both insightful and inspirational. He compared how John uses themes - to the music of Miles Davis - noting the various intricacies of his compositions. It reminded me of my college Music Theory class - which I was not very good at! But it was simply exquisite to hear Todd - and I wished I had a recording of it.

During that afternoon's practice, the theme was "self-honoring," so I thought that would be an appropriate theme for me to develop in class this week. Anusara Yoga is really a practice about self-honoring, and doing so, means you know when to play the edge, when to nurture yourself, and when to ground, and when to step back. So this morning, I stayed home, as an act of "self-honoring."

Instead, I went down to the river mid-morning, in weather that is reminiscent of summer. It was truly hot - and I could feel the rays of the sun almost as a slow broil on my arms. I chose to paddle on the Maryland side of the river, a side I rarely explore - because I find myself not wanting to re-trace old familiar routes...

I went to the Gathering this year, having given myself permission to sit out whatever portions of the practice were necessary for me, and instead found myself doing much more of it than I had anticipated. Because I have spinal stenosis at L4 and L5 - among some other things - sciatic and nerve pain accompany me often - and often it is a matter of to what degree I experience it. So, in my home practice - I work the Anusara Yoga Universal Principles of Alignment carefully, assiduously, sequentially, and slowly - at a pace that can take me to the edge - but keeps me out of the realm of searing pain - inviting the Shakti to come dance with me, and wield her healing magic. This requires a degree of mindfulness which is much harder to observe in a class - but most especially in a workshop.

In addition, a near brush with retinal detachment in one eye and a propensity for such an event occurring in the future, means I have virtually eliminated all longer held inversions - except for handstands and pincha mayurasana - which I do not hold long.

So - for a long time, I did not feel myself to be as good as my peers and fellow teachers. I've had to work at getting over that - and realize that it takes much more to accept where I am - and work from that vantage point - rather than mourn what asanas are no longer in my repertoire. There are other emerging health issues as well - and they constantly remind me I am not totally in control of things. Who knew? Still, I am blessed. I have a dear friend with one of the most beautiful and advanced practices who has had to amend it because of her own physical trials...

I paddled this morning, thinking of how so often I focus on lack - rather than accepting what is. I paddled this morning, realizing that constantly cultivating and expressing gratitude and exploring compassion are necessary for me to overcome this proclivity I have towards focusing on what I don't have - rather than what I do have. It is a perennial part of my journey and my spiritual practice...

So today, I let go of "shoulds", and I packed Grace, my kayak, into the back of my truck, and trekked down to the river. I acknowledged my exhaustion, my cranky hamstrings, and knees, and hips - and in spite of them - I enjoyed a paddle in the heat and glaring sun. I am lucky that I have the space and time to meditate, to practice, to write, to commune with the Divine and his creations and creatures. I am blessed to have so many like-minded souls in my life.

And as a dear friend is so fond of saying - "What else is there?"


Anonymous said…
This post was a wonderful insight into your soul ... thank you for sharing with all of us. Love you, Sheila

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