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.
Being in the in-between place is not only unsafe but I find it disconcerting and very uncomfortable. On the other hand, it was when I put myself in this “unsafe” place that I also learned to trust more and to believe in myself. May you find your balance again and again as you become more accustomed to this “unsafe” place that you find yourself in.
On a lighter note, I was given a Blogger Appreciation Award which I passed on to you. Just a small way of saying I really enjoy reading your posts. Hope you can stop by my blog and claim it – http://anne-writersspace.blogspot.com/2012/04/blogger-appreciation-award.html#comment-form
Thanks Anne for the blogger award. And I appreciate you sharing your own struggles with the “unsafe” place. I hope to find that balance too.
I feel the same way when attempting yoga. I want so much to become one with myself- but instead find myself anxiety ridden. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just not for me!
I’ve never read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (I know!) but what a beautiful passage.
I did just finish reading Poser by Claire Dederer and it’s much about what you posted above- it’s a memoir that is centered around her attempt to “yoga-fy” herself, and she feels much of the same as you described above. At the end of 10 years, she realizes it’s about being okay with being “unsafe” as you put it.
Your writing grows more beautiful and layered every time I read it.
Your posts are so personal and vulnerable, and that is what has drawn me to your blog. You give voice to feelings that are real and true. Very beautiful. This article resonated with me.
Robin: Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I am glad my words resonated with you. The second yoga experience certainly spoke to me in ways I certainly didn’t expect.
I love this. Just today I was there on my purple mat, falling out of poses, mind wandering and returning, face sometimes vexed and sometimes smiling… Namaste
A beautiful post. My mind always wanders but I have found yoga to be a salvation for me. I have had arthritis since I am eight years old. I started yoga seven months ago, at the time I was in a lot of pain and desperate to try something new. I struggle with it but I have found it helping my mind and my body. I hope you find your safe place and I hope it gives you peace. xo
Here from SITS sharefest and I love this post!. I have struggled with yoga for years as well. Hopefully I can have a moment like you where it just clicks. Off to check out the rest of your site.
I think if you stick with it, you may find that single moment. It is worth it because the energy from this experience lingers and helps when trying to contemplate more challenging events.
I sometimes get that way, too. I remind myself that God is in control and he will take care of me and it always gives me peace.
You always have the most poignant and beautiful reminders here, Rudri. Maybe I should give yoga another try…
Tiffany: You should certainly give yoga a try. I guarantee you will surprise yourself.
This is hauntingly rendered and has lingered with me all week. Thinking of you, Renee.
Thanks Renee. Glad my words spoke to you. xoxo
Rudri, this is absolutely lovely. Very thought-provoking.
Thanks for reading. I love seeing your thoughtful comment in my space.