Breathing

Yin yoga is a still practice; the kind of thing where, while seemingly doing nothing, you are doing everything. It is, as I understand the practice, cultivating an internal awareness of our body: holding poses, breathing into some discomfort, knowing when to pull back, knowing when to breathe into an uncomfortable space and stay.  It’s actually quite complex.

Amy, my guide in Yin practice, noted that when we reach an “edge,” when we have tension but not quite pain, resolve to stay in the position. Let go and breathe into that awareness.  Let go and breathe.  Let go for the duration of the pose, in our case, 3-5 minutes. Staying with the pose strengthens and stretches the body’s connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, fascia) that bind the other parts of us together. Amy suggested that this letting go could be long-term, even, beyond this time on a mat.  Hmmm.

The last few days, for more than a few days, I have been on edge, anxious and angry, really, although I don’t want to call it that. I’ve focused more on how I measure up—my differences with people and in situations. Some of these people or situations have deeply affected me, people I love, and ideas I hold a little too closely. Some of these people and situations are of little consequence actually, however, they seem big at the moment.

Breathing into that space. Breathing into an awareness that this is not about being right or better or different when the situation is approaching painful. Breathing into an awareness of a higher power: the power of God, of relationship, that is more expansive than this moment. Letting go. Staying present. Giving attention, life breath, in response to anger and anxiousness—another kind of tension and un-comfortableness of my own making.

 There is a line in a book I am reading that keeps coming before me.

It [meltemi, the Greek name for the north wind blowing across the Aegean sea] soothes the desperate traveler’s brow, the traveler who has not yet traveled long enough to have left his future behind.                 Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces       

I have been a desperate traveler. Desperate is an apt description of my sense of proving my rightness, my stance, and my view of the world. What does it mean to travel long enough to leave my future behind? The paradox might be to let go of the positioning, striving, and building that accompanies our human conception of where we are going. To practice stillness, to live, by breathing into this present moment.

When I moved to Bloomington, I thought the move was a step to get to a future by completing a degree. Little did I know that the by-the-way relationships I happened upon were not preparing me for some unforeseen next but were enriching, building and blessing the present.

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