With so much change and unearthing and re-earthing going on internally and externally, my challenge has been maintaining focus and concentration, which is why I haven’t been writing. My thoughts are like spider webs, sticky and tangly and leading to random places. So I’ve been doing.
Before I left, I was playing with the idea of contentment – Samtosha. My fascination with the quality of contentment was a substitute for my inability to find it, a substitute for my own internal fortitude, for my conscious connection with Spirit, a substitute for my lost ability to disconnect from the tides of impermanance, an indication of transient pain overshadowing beauty and of the moments which when made the objects of obsession are lost. My internal struggle was with change for change’s sake. Sometimes change is necessary to grow. Sometimes people are just fascinated with and addicted to it. Sometimes those people are me.
The edge of burnout was real, the stressors are real, the solutions I was toying with were not. Samtosha was the answer, but all I could do was write about it. I couldn’t find it, I couldn’t live it.
I’m not saying I’m now the Queen of Samtosha or anything. Far from it. I’ve cancelled the interviews and declined the other positions I was investigating. I’m happier at work (which has something to do with finishing with my last Intern and having my job back to myself for a few precious weeks). I’m not as tempted to smoke to keep the emotions tamped down. I find more humor in the surreal and the ridiculous, and more compassion for myself in the tragic. Sometimes you just need a vacation.
Which brings me to my first confrontation with anicha – or impermanance. In this case of plans. So, I specialize in the unplanned vacation, but rarely do I just drop all. But I woke up in a Motel 6 in Holbrook, Arizona and was having breakfast at some Denny’s like place, pouring over maps (one of my favorite passtimes, and also necessary to the uplanned planner) and gazing out toward First Mesa through the pane glass window when I realized I didn’t really want to go to San Diego and learn how to surf – at least not this week. I wanted to stay close, to hike, to do yoga in new places and to do it today and everyday thereafter. So I talked to a little girl and two truckers and decided to wander towards Sedona. The little girl gave me courage and presence and the truckers some routing ideas. I think I gave them amusement.
I realized it was solstice and I was in the midst of vortexes (yes, that’s the proper plural when you are referring to these phenomena in Sedona). I’m still not sure what makes vortexes special – more particularly say than ruins or other beautiful, breathtaking places – but I did feel privileged to be in such beauty. And to be doing yoga on a mesa vortex on solstice in the view of at least a dozen other mesas, each subtly reflecting the many hues of red reflected by the other sunladen mesas and all of it wrapped in sky… well, I felt like the queen of something. Maybe just quiet, but definitely regally surrounded.
Hiking was amazing, ruins were plentiful and powerful. Really potent pictographs with more historical background than I’m used to having and some really great conversations with the site guides. I’m happiest when I get to use maps, talk to people who know more than me about things that matter, be outdoors and have some wander room. I was pretty happy.
From this state of contentment, the Phoenix area was a stark reminder that I would have to integrate all this freedom back into a life with other people. But re-entering the city life was worth it to be at the Mukunda Stiles Yoga Workshop at InnerVision Yoga in Chandler. I didn’t know what I was getting into – I was there because I was so impressed with his translation of Patanjali’s Sutras. Turns out, he’s pioneered a particular way to work with injury and limitation through yoga. So, I put my foot in it by asking a question I wasn’t prepared to give all the background to and got off on the wrong foot. I did learn a great deal about myself and yoga and was in the presence of a great teacher. I’m still learning from that weekend and will write about that quite a lot. The central theme for my experience of the workshop was to conceptualize what I’d been working on for the last few years in my own practice and to integrate it into my teaching: sadhana. Sadhana is a complete practice, what sets yoga apart from stretching or Pilates or exercise in general. Sadhana is truly practice – practice for life. Yoga is a sacred endeavor, as all of life can be, and my mat is where I remember this each day. Mukunda’s teaching really gave me a framework for this, reinforced things I’d been discovering for myself and gave me a sense of history and community.
I’m blessed to have this practice in times of loss, too. While I was at work this weekend my family changed. Our two female dogs fought and one, the oldest, Sadie, was killed. Stunned doesn’t even begin to describe how we’ve each been feeling, how the remaining dogs are acting, how the house feels even now. These two dogs fought once years ago when we were introducing them. They’d lived peacably until Friday night, when my husband came home to a radically changed house. When he told me Saturday morning, when I arrived home from work, I was devastated. Our family is changing a lot and for the first time it will be us and two dogs soon. I was surprised to find moments of pure bliss guiltlessly arising during grief and loss and anger and responsibility. Bliss when he took me to Sadie’s grave site along a lovely stream. She loved the sound of water and playing in it. Bliss in my garden cutting flowers. Bliss looking into Matilda’s eyes, Matilda with whom we must be so much more vigilant, Matilda who will find herself in a new home without other dogs, who I will miss along with my beloved Sadie, who was the most loyal being ever to walk in my presence. Bliss holding my husband’s hand and crying.
I was struggling for contentment (as I’m sure I will again) because I was running from the impermanance of my experience. Anicha. I was looking for stability in the crashing tide of time and things instead of my consciousness of their passing. My consciousness which is just one instance of Consciousness. My consciousness which dissolves in the greatness of Spirit.