I saw two photographs yesterday. One was of me. And one was of a yogi who used to be me. I looked at the yogi and thought “Yes, that used to be me. Strong, muscular, fierce. And now I have become something else. Waif. Thin. Everything is temporary.”
But I didn’t feel sad or maudlin.
Yesterday was Yom Kippur and it was the perfect time for me to look into the eye of this transformation and not hold it as permanent.
I did not fast this Yom Kippur, as it would have been counter to my health. But in past years, as I used to, I always found fasting to bring me to a very quiet place. I didn’t need that this time. I found that place without the hunger and without the thirst. Without that primal ache. That knowing exists inside of me now. It is a stripping down. A place of no ego. But a place of clarity.
I went to a very quiet place outside and I listened. I listened to the cicadas. I listened to the wind. I listened to the river. I waited to see what more the river had to offer me before I made my next offering.
I moved about to get comfortable on the sand because I could feel my tailbone speaking to me. “Too thin. You’ve gotten too thin.” Was the voice I heard. (I’m sure it was my beloved grandmother speaking from afar) I breathed.
Yes. It’s true. Within a short time, my body called for something else from me aside from asana. And where I was once strong, in body, I no longer “appear” to be so. But as I sat, I realized that I have had to become strong for myself in newer ways. Ways which cannot be taught (unless beaten into you through Navy SEAL training and that is not the kind of teaching I mean since it lacks every type of tenderness known to humankind).
I sat at the river and made offerings to those hearts I could feel were in need of healing. I prayed for them. I listened to my dialogue with myself. And with god. I felt buoyant.
Every other year, this ritual of Yom Kippur was lengthy and pierced a place inside of my heart which was painful. On this day, I felt at ease. I felt STRONG. Staring out at the river, I realized that there was nothing else to do but let the water find the stillness inside of me and cleanse and soothe the places which need it still. For all of us.
As my teacher described recently, I too, had a trip around the sun these last 13 months which now included 3 surgeries and that time period took me into very deep silence and very deep places of learning how to forgive in ways which I had not accessed before. I recall hitting a bump along that journey that was quite agonizing and made me think it was going to take several more trips around the sun until I would find some peace.
But a big shift occurred which was seismic and profoundly healing.
Forgiveness, for me, is a lifestyle.
I don’t just show up at shul on Yom Kippur and pray for it. In this case, that wasn’t a possibility.
I take that trip around the sun every day and every year. And just hope, for the sake of my own heart, and the hearts of others, that it pays off.
So, the gift of Yom Kippur for me was in the silence. In recognizing how much stillness happens amidst the constant movement.
Let there be nothing to do but let the water find the stillness and cleanse and soothe the places which need it still. For all of us.
In health and happiness. And another trip around the sun.