Often, life seems to be at a standstill for a long, long time. and then change comes quickly, unexpected.
In the summer heat, it’s hard to imagine the turning of the season, but there it is, on a single sheet with a big eye that sees all. This leaf fell for me to find on the day I found out a friend had died.
I was in the midst of a two-week training in the Berkshires with a relentless schedule — up before 5:30 daily, the last class of the day ending at 9 each night. We were close to 60 in a room not designed for so many, and though the teachers astounding in their knowledge and care, my energy would shift wildly, my mind and body easily saturated in that compressed time and space.
When I find out that Brian had died, I cut class and headed for the woods. (OK, truth is that I’m officially a dork and asked the teacher for permission first.) I wanted fresh air. I wanted tall trunks instead of walls. I wanted to be alone.
But of course, we’re never really alone.
Within a few minutes, four of these cute newts — known as “red efts” in New England — appeared right in the middle of my path, one after the other. I’d pick them up and they’d tilt their heads and peer into my eyes. The frogs by Monk’s Pond did the same. (Well, I didn’t actually pick them up, but when I just sat there, they would jump back out of the pond and onto the rock to check me out.)
(By the way, doesn’t the rock Froggie is on look just like a….)
In the end, my walk in the woods, felt more like an immersion experience — much like these two weeks of yoga therapy training. It did for me what I needed it to — to quiet the mind, allow me to release the guilt of not having done Reiki on Brian before he passed (I sent him some that day in the woods, and felt him walking alongside me), and brought me happily into the mysteries of those we encounter, however briefly.
I encountered other beings in the middle of my path during brief breaks from studying everything from somatics to chakra vidya to mudras for pitta balancing — among the most interesting, a groundhog, a black snake, and a Tibetan flutist who wrapped both of my hands into his and sent me a blessing that had me seeing blue rivers of light whenever I closed my eyes for hours afterwards.
I know I’m in a good space when I can see the messages in the everyday — when I treat my life as a magical dream where each character symbolizes something within my own self trying to wake up. It’s not likely to happen when the everyday is drowning in bills and alarms and never-ending things to get done. I wish it didn’t take something big to shake things up — like death — to transform our perspective, even temporarily. Practicing yoga or meditation does the same thing — it makes it easier to breathe, makes us notice habitual holding so we can let our hips sway free, it might even help us perceive energy that much quicker — but only temporarily.
I’ve learned it takes patience to change the deeper grooves, or as the sutras say, get the balance between “will and surrender” just right to calm the fluctuations of the mind.
Time in nature repairs my sense of connection and perception, even if I don’t always trust completely in the next steps.
And in the end, any next step is fine, if done with the right intention.
Sending you all best wishes for this transition — you can hear fall in the crickets’ midnight song, can’t you?
And for those of you in my neck of the woods, I’ll be facilitating three yoga and writing workshops in beautiful Loudoun County as part of the national Building Common Ground Initiative. The first session on September 15th deals with “community”, the second (October 13) “civility” and the third (November 10th) “compassion.” I’d love to see you there! (More information here or at the flyer, below.)