Monday, March 24, 2008

Land of Enchantment

I was planning on yoga at eight tonight. But its one minute past and I’m drinking a beer with a white furry puppy biting my toes, still wearing the dress I put on this morning. The family I sit for has gone to Mexico for spring break, and as we’ve done for the past three and half years, I’m holed up in their beautiful home while they are away: watering their plants, eating their produce, waking up to the New York Times in the driveway.

Sunday night I arrived back in Boulder after a weekend in Santa Fe. No yoga, and I haven’t really done much since then—but that is not going to stop me from writing more than ever before. This morning I did a few sweet poses, ones that make me feel good, like happy baby and pigeon, toe stand and side staff pose, but I ended up in child’s pose for a long time, listening to Sufjan Stevens. I don’t know why I didn’t go to class tonight; I was planning on it all day, but when it came time to leave I found myself physically resistant to leaving the house. I think I’m feeling a little blue, or maybe I’m just tired. I couldn’t fall asleep last night, tossed and turned and threw pillows on the floor in frustration.

Santa Fe was a weekend full of unexpected pleasure, doubt, desire. We (kate, rob, john, myself) stayed in a hotel Friday night, and Saturday was spent at Upaya Zen Center, a place bathed in beautiful golden light and filled with warm, welcoming spirit. Of course I sound romantic about it; I was only there for one day and one night. No time to fully comprehend, no time to feel any differently. It was my first serious mediation experience, and I don’t even know how to describe it. I don’t think I want to. It was hard to stop thinking. It was hard to shake the voices in my head, the neurotic thoughts, and doubts. My mind wandered a few times, toward something it probably should never think about again, but wants to, and undoubtedly will. The same thing happens in yoga class most of the time; I’m in the middle of standing bow pose and thinking about who I’m meeting after class, what work needs to be finished, who I need to call back, etc etc etc.

Even worse than thinking about tasks and crushes is when I think about how I look in the mirror, or how I can’t get my left leg up over my head like I can with my right. I’m starting to notice my muscles playing favorites, my right shoulder higher than the left, my left leg tighter than the right. Frustration. I know I shouldn’t, but I am always judging my experiences. I look for ways to explain it away, making excuses, offering stupid qualifications for my poses, postures, behaviors. I don’t know how to get over this. John says this a lot: “it is something I need to get over”. Knowing there is something imperfect or flawed and judging it before someone else can. Maybe that’s not what he means. I don’t really know. But I do that. I’m looking for sincerity in my yoga practice, sincerity in my interactions. Do and say things I mean, with meaning. John and I talked a lot this weekend, about yoga, ourselves, peeing in the ocean when we were children. Okay, that was just me. I wish I could find better language to describe all this, instead of sitting here with a dog in my lap, searching, smiling.

I’ve said goodbye to a lot of friends in the past year, most departing for graduate schools in other cities, some moved on to international programs, others scattered various places doing various things. And me, I’m here, trying to find closure with them, looking for ritual. I've been noticing words are harder and harder to get together. Coming back this weekend I thought of many sentences that never come out, things like i wouldn’t have liked your teeth on anyone else and when i hear myself talk it's like hearing chickens cluck. These, or others like them, run through my head all day without anything to attach to, and I write hundreds of letters a day, addressed and unsent.

What does this have to do with yoga? I don't know. My body is learning and relearning movements in every class, muscles are being trained to articulate certain strengths. My brain is trying to train my pulse to say I want you in morse code whenever someone might touch my hand. I can't get the words right, I can't say these things. Like I am standing at the periphery of desire.

What is my point? I am learning, learning, learning. Settling into the sensations of needing, desiring, becoming. In yoga classes and even in my ‘regular’ life I am making myself more available, freer. God, it’s so hard to write about all this without sounding like a punchy-face. Thinking about something else Ashley said, her question of how much weirder can a girl from Iowa get. Well, probably pretty weird. What is liberating? As a woman I am hardly permitted to exist on my own terms, and as a yoga student I don't even know what my terms are. It's like this, it's not like this. Three years ago in a yoga class I had very firm boundaries, low tolerance for spirituality, zero tolerance for chakra talk. I had a boyfriend, who upon reading this blog would probably laugh at me, not recognize me. Sometimes I don’t. There is anxiety that crops up with new, untested freedoms. Like I have opened a door to a dimly lit room.

I felt, then, free because nothing was important. Secretly loved my arrogance and underwhelming world. I'm shaky at best tonight when I shape my strength of feeling. How weird am I going to get? Going to California to train with Ashley, carving out our sacred yoga sister space. How weird, how weird are we already? On the phone with John a few nights ago, I mentioned feeling nervous about the yoga training. He asked why; I didn't respond in any coherent way. This is why, all this is my response. I am letting go of options, like Kira; trying to shed the leanness of meaning I’ve relied on for so long and walk away empty handed, toward something else, empty handed. (that’s for you, cardamon) Does this make sense?

Funny I'm sitting here writing about New Mexico and listening to Dar William's song about Iowa. So much to love about this song. My favorite line is the end: tonight I woke up from a nightmare I could not stand to see/you were out wandering out on the hills of Iowa/and you were not thinking of me.

I am excited, light, exhausted. Amazed that in the gathering speed of my own momentum I would ever stop.


Zen Muffin said...

awwwwww i love your yoga posts. they make me just want to squish you with sister hugs. but i know you don't like that. your writing is so good! so much to respond to, so much i could relate to, but i'm at work now so bye!

FrenchToast said...

squishle sistle huggles

FrenchToast said...

also, some business: cardamon wants his name changed to how he chose it, and i don't know how to that. o most beloved z-muffin, you hold the power.

FrenchToast said...

squishle sistle huggles=don't touch me!! look it up in the sister dictionary. it's there. i promise.

Zen Muffin said...

can i just say again, damn. you write like someone who knows what she's doing! the "leanness of meaning" love it...anyway, upaya sounds great. i love that you did an adult easter egg hunt.

i know what you mean about how yoga can actually make you more self-conscious about your body. it's turned me into a hypochondriac. "awareness" of my body is great and all but not when it causes me to notice pains, twitches, weaknesses, tightnesses etc that i wouldn't have cared about otherwise. instead yoga makes me expect this perfect feeling body that always feels strong supple and painfree. but hah! that's the opposite of what happens!

Zen Muffin said...

i like this concept "i am settling into the sensations of needing, desiring, becoming." i think that is so interesting because most people resist those sensations in favor of having, loving, and being. we're afraid of motion and prefer stability which is actually just an illusion. at least, i am, i guess. but i'm also afraid of stability, afraid of my brain literally solidifying now that i'm twentyfive and making me insensitive, less innocent, less flexible. i guess i just fear finding stillness in the wrong place but yet i want to be still and 'have, love, and be.' this doesn't make a lot of sense probably.