I love timepieces. I enjoy their beauty and I enjoy them as a classic artform. Many units of precision working together for a grander purpose and function.
I like to view the body the same way.
As an artform.
Some of my teachers have skill which has become an anchor for me. And I realize that their skill allows me to breathe more life into my own spirit in a way that is my touchstone. Which is why the ritual of bowing to each other’s hearts is so appropriate and vital.
Yesterday, I crossed a threshold and worked with a beautiful Iyengar teacher who ushered me tenderly in the most therapeutic way to help me with my own body. A body which has now been through three hip surgeries in a short amount of time and has not experienced asana in a very long time. Thus, the crossing of the threshold.
My teacher placed me at her beautiful rope wall. Four ropes installed inside a nurturingly smooth wood back. Still, I wasn’t too happy about having to use this wall, as artful and as beautiful of an installation as it appeared to me because I am not comfortable there. I am comfortable laughing at myself about how uncomfortable I am. But I am still not comfortable.
I grip too hard and my hands hurt far more than they should.
I know that it must take time to learn how to properly use the ropes, but I sense that I have ambivalence about whether or not I care to. I feel that in my gut.
The grip for me is a very strong metaphor.
At first I could laugh at myself and tell my teacher about my last visit to my surgeon’s office. I was planted there for four hours. I saw a woman and her husband there and then 3 hours later, her husband returned alone. He asked me many questions and I was more than happy to help him with the issues it seemed that his wife was having post-surgery. Why not? I was having many of my own. I would want someone to help me! He told me that his wife’s hands were killing him while using the crutches.
“Oh!” I said, “she’s probably gripping them too tightly!” “She needs to loosen her hands up and have some laxity there. Relax the grip.”
And then I told my teacher that I didn’t know how to translate this from the crutches to the wall.
As I drove to see my surgeon today it hit me that the two things ARE very different. I COULD relax my grip with my crutches because I was the one leading the reins. My intuition tells me that the wall is very different. In order to properly use the wall, you need to allow the wall to support you. You must. And therein lies my ambivalence and my “fight.” And dare I say it, my first chakra wounding. It’s why I HATE the wall. Because that part of my self has some fracturing and does not know how, never learned how to be held. Eureka! No wonder it hurt. No wonder I grip. No wonder I didn’t like it. No wonder.
I didn’t say NO to the wall.
I just didn’t know how to relinquish myself to it. Now I know why.
When my father was dying, I watched a man, previously entrenched deeply in a place of pride and ego, learn how to let go of both. For the last 5 years of his life, he had to wear a colostomy bag, which could have been a deep source of shame, had he allowed it to be. He experienced many losses over those five years and handled them with much courage and without fighting against them. And when he began to actively die, he engaged the process without resisting it.
I thought of him today when I recalled my GRIP with the ropes. Because that grip is a deeper truth, no doubt speaking to me about how I am holding myself in the world right now. It saddens me to know how true this is. I laughed at myself yesterday, but I also told my teacher that she would need to repeat the words “LET GO” to me many times as I was holding the ropes because I knew I would need to be continually reminded to keep letting go. That for me, I wouldn’t just “let go” and then be finished with the process. I would need to let go over and over... again and again. Like how I work with forgiveness. I have to keep at it. Continually. Steadily. As a lifestyle.
Surrender. Forgiveness. Compassion. These are very deep practices for me and IN me. They are also beautiful artforms. Working together for a grander and higher purpose. Some days they are deeply challenging. And in some moments, they come through with pure and utter ease. Those are blessed moments. I am blessed for having had them, and they are blessed for having lived their full expression.
And I keep at it. In prayer. With soft hands.
Just practice. Faith. Steadiness. And a little sprinkle of a whole lot of love.
Blessed be your own artform!
And a very Happy Chanukah to all of my Chaverim!