There is a woman who works at my doctor’s office, who, if I were a gambling woman, I would guess is an African Sabra. I would bet a lot of money on that one, and I know I would be right.
“Sabra” is the Hebrew word for an Israeli born individual. A sabra is also the name of a fruit indigenous to Israel. It is a form of cactus and it is a very thorny, prickly plant found in the dry desert. The reason Israelis are referred to as Sabras is because they have the reputation for being “prickly” and “thorny” and tenacious with thick hides, but like their indigenous fruit, have a sweet, soft, delicate and sensitive interior which is simply “concealed” by a rough and thorny exterior.
Get to know a Sabra and you will fall in love. They are amongst my most favorite groups of people. They reject you before they accept you. And I always get a big fat kick out of that. Something about that puts me immediately at ease. Something about that makes me trust them.
Because I know, under the thorny and rough exterior, they are the ones who will save your life and then love you for the rest of it.
If right now, I have already put you off because of Political issues, please realize, we are born where we are born. Maybe we “chose” it before we entered these body in this particular lifetime, but that is for another blog. So if you are already finding yourself NOT wanting to read on because of my affection for Israelis, I lovingly bid you “Adieu,” “Shalom,” “Lahitraoit,” “Adios,” “Arrivederci,” “Sayonara,” etc. etc. etc. Because like it or not, Israelis, or “Sabras,” are amongst my most favorite groups of people.
What I adore about my African Sabra is that it has taken her many years to move towards me. She wasn’t just prickly. She was BEYOND prickly. But something inside of her always busted out a smile when she was with me. Even if she was just making fun of me and my crazy low body temperature or other vital signs which read “crazy” to her.
The best moment came when after the age of forty, I had grown half an inch. I asked her to check it again. She said “I’m not doing it again. You heard what I said.” When I explained that it couldn’t possibly be right and that I couldn’t imagine having grown after the age of forty, she did it again, and I was, in fact, 1/2 an inch taller.
A year later, she and I were back together for my annual physical and my height was another 1/2 inch higher. A full inch taller in 2 years??? Now my African Sabra screamed. The two of us were literally in the room having a party!
“I need to start doing some of that yoga!” she said.
I explained to her that to begin high school at 4’9” and be teased constantly for my height and then to grow into the height of 5’3 in my 40s was just a miracle!
Today, when she saw me, now my “good friend” who lights up when she sees me, holds doors open, especially today, while I was in a wheelchair, her first question was, “wanna check your height?”
We laughed and I opened my arms and we hugged and discussed why I was there and moved onto other things.
After she left me alone, she came back into my room and asked me if I was taking any pain meds, and when I told her I wasn’t she muttered under her breath, in full prickly persona, “I SHOULD’VE KNOWN.” And then slipped out.
My African Sabra is very special to me. She taught me many things about myself. Sure I hoped we could be friends. Or at the very least, friendly. But what I realized immediately, was this:
The person who needs the LEAST amount of intimacy in any relationship is the one who rules. She is the one’s whose needs get to be tended to FIRST. In asana, it’s like moving from gross to finest in terms of alignment.
To blow this level of listening “off” and not tune in to what is right in front of you, because somehow we cannot get out of the way of our own needs or our own desires, that is simply not LOVE. In fact, I will go so far as to say it is nothing short of narcissism.
When you are teaching Yoga, it is your JOB, to get out of the way and figure out how to keep whatever is happening in your psyche, out of the room. It is your moral imperative. And I implore everyone to keep honing that skill each and every day through meditation, therapy, life coaching, prayer, and other powerful vehicles of daily practice.
To learn how to love well is a practice. It is a deep daily practice. One I hope to keep learning and continue practicing for the rest of my life.
I’ve been muscling through the last few days, as I know how to do far too well. And in the middle of the night, in sheer agony, I have watched myself on all fours, crawling to the bathroom because I could no longer use my crutches.
When morning arrived, I had to send for the retrieval of the wheelchair.
I spiked a fever. And my bones ache.
I spent the last few days managing these challenges which were becoming increasingly difficult.
And then, moments ago, when my Beloved called, I welled up with tears immediately. First, I became quiet and let it come out, as all of the emotion I had been holding inside began to pour out of me. I knew that the response I was having was evoked because I felt deeply deeply loved and because I love from as deeply a place.
The last few days, I have been muscling through, but as soon as the two of us were on the phone together, I knew I could release the grip I had been holding. All of it. I knew I could lean in. I knew I didn’t need to muscle anything anymore.
I was reminded of my African Sabra. She doesn’t muscle with me anymore. She knows she is safe.
When you know you are loved or safe, even if it’s not your “pose,”
you can allow the smile.
And you can allow the tears to finally come.
I am deeply deeply grateful to know that I know how to allow both. And that I know to receive both.
It’s good to be a Yogin, ain’t it?