Unfolding on the Mat
Expanded Content and Thoughtful Guidance
I am writing this on April 13, 2020. This is the one month mark of shelter-in-place for the Goulding household. It was March 13 that the schools here in Austin closed down and we all stared at the harsh reality that this is bigger than we thought.
When I think of teaching, I'm already thinking of the technical logistics rather than whether my props are clean and ready to go to the studio. "Seeing" my students now means looking forward to their emails, comments, and posts rather than laughing together and sharing those important and nourishing hugs.
Clearly, this has changed me and us.
Which brings me to the word and essence of what I'm focusing on in this stage of our shelter-in-place: CLARITY.
I got a piece of it yesterday as I watched Anthony Bocelli's live stream concert from the Duomo di Milano. What struck me, other than the incredible beauty of Bocelli's voice, was the line he sang in Amazing Grace
"I...was blind, but now I see."
Yes, I saw the clear streets of Paris, London, and New York. We all saw what the world looks like right now. We could all see the air in the cities was clean, like the dust of pollution had settled. There was no denying you can SEE the difference a pause in human activity has on our Earth.
My daughter even pointed out that Bocelli is blind and singing about seeing. She understood that there is more to see than meets the eye.
The purpose of yoga is to pierce through illusion and see what is true and real. Illusions come in the forms of denial, ignorance, attachment, aversion, misconception and misapprehension. Illusions don't just put a veil over our eyes--they put a veil over our entire experience of the world and how it works.
Perhaps you, like me, are getting a clearer idea of what your own illusions are, now that we're forced to stop and see them. Seeing those clear skies made me ask the hard questions of myself about how this time will change me. For example, how can I return to life but still drive my car as much as I did before? I simply can't. I've seen the beauty of clean air and I can't deny my part. How can I go back to a full hour-by-hour schedule when I've felt the ease of a fairly open calendar? How could I ever again take for granted visits with my mom now that I know what it feels like to be unable to see her? If our economy is in peril when businesses shut down for two weeks, how can we go back to believing the foundation is secure? These illusions have all been shattered--and I don't want them back.
I know there's talk now of easing up on restrictions, which is all well and good for whenever the time is right. But I'm in no rush. There are so many layers of clarity to this experience, and I want to see them all.
Clarity takes time and patience, like watching disturbed sand settle to reveal to the bottom of a pond; like seeing the shining buildings once the pollution has cleared.
You can bring this to your yoga mat with your breath. (Or go back and practice April 9: "Remedy for Overstimulation or Too Much Togetherness" on Facebook or Chakra Savvy.)
Turn your attention to your breath.
Slowly even out the inhale and exhale.
Begin to count at a slow, even tempo:
May you engage patiently with this time and allow illusions to be dispelled to reveal the truth of your existence and the clarity you have within you.
Jessica lives, has a family, and teaches yoga in Austin, Texas.