Flow

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The sun is peeking through the trees outside and spilling onto the wooden floor in front of me.  Out the window I can see cars zoom along the lengthy curve of the Coronado Bridge to what looks like the end of the world.  The sound of water trickles slowly through the speakers, and at first I’m confused at what the familiar yet displaced sound it.  As I fold forward over my yoga mat I take in a deep breath…..then let it out with a long sigh.

 

 I love this.

 

I feel clear. Distractions pushed aside.  Life is paused. Thoughts in my head current and focused on what I feel going on in my muscles, bones, blood….breath.  This mindset is new.  It didn’t just happen….I had to seek it.  I had to be taught.  Somehow, although my life is sorta taking on slight traits of a traveling circus, I’ve figured out how to achieve this amazing position of my wits.

 

Standing here today, my mind feels clear. It’s absolutely nothing close to nirvana and it’s not like I’m in a state of nothingness where I’m so zoned out nothing gets in…many things travel through my head and thoughts.  But I’ve learned to allow them to only be passing reflections rather than a worrisome recording running on a loop within my brain. I take in a deep breath and rise as I reach my hands towards the sky and focus my gaze on my upward pointing fingertips.  I close my eyes as I fold forward once again….this time feeling the emotional freedom I’ve allowed myself in this moment. My eyes fill with tears again, as they always seem to do at some point every time I come to yoga.  

 

My father once bought me a plaque that said “Relax”.  “To put in your kitchen,” he said. Then he laughed. He laughed hard. In a mocking way.  Relax…..I didn’t know how to relax then. I’ve always been tightly wound.  I’ve always kept the real me locked deep inside but aching to get out.  I felt a kinship with the little fox at the zoo that did continuous figure eights in his cage day in and day out….always pacing, always planning, always having a mental guard up. I tended to constantly grasp tightly to things…grip hard, making releasing them difficult when it was necessary. Attachment to plans, self imposed {as well as social} rules, and expectations kept me trapped in a little box….a cage. One that often felt one size too small.

 

Like I said, I occasionally {ok, almost always…} weep at some point in my practice. Though it is rarely because of stress or sadness.  It’s because I’m so amazed that I can finally, at last, achieve this seemingly unattainable feeling that I’ve craved for so long. 

 

Unwind.

Slow down.

Loosen up.

Undo.

Calm.

Disarm.

Bend.

Relax.

 

Let go.

 

*********

 

About four years ago my oldest son had a very scary thing happen to him.  Making a long and quite amazing story short he had to be rescued after falling into an ice cold stream while fishing with a friend. {More on this can be found here https://jabattheworld.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/how-neat/} My boy explained that when he slipped into the freezing water he immediately thought of an episode of the survivor shows he always watched where the guy used a broken branch wedged between rocks to keep him above water. He used the fishing pole, still tightly held between his fingers, to do this.  He plunged it as hard as he could down into the rocks his knees were banging up against and managed to get it to hold him for a few seconds before snapping.  At this breaking point, with his friend racing down the river bank, my son was grasping at anything he could get his grip upon; Overhanging tree limbs, tangled weeds, rocks along the edge, broken logs haphazardly poking out over the water. He was terrified as he shot through the rushing water completely out of control.  Where was the current going to take him? What would he have to go through before hitting whatever the end result was?

 

Life is scary.

 

I’ve struggled for years to learn to let go of things.  I’ve held on to attachments like my son did to that fishing pole…for dear life.  Every time, though, things seemed to snap. 

 

From the time I was a kid I set rules and self expectations….and limitations. I made big plans for my future as a teenager.  This was brought to my attention at my ten year reunion.  As basically a child, I wrote up a “timeline” to put into the Class of 1991 Time Capsule.  I think I did everything on the list by the time I was 30. Looking back over these coming of age years I said and heard “should” and “have to” a lot.  I grasped unyielding to the way everything ought to be and the way I said it would be.  If it didn’t happen as I had wanted it to I would panic…I was a failure. But in reality it was always out of my control.  Like situations and relationships.  I’ve learned the hard way that control fills the soul with worry….and worry is a waste of the imagination.

 

For a while I have felt like I too have fallen into the bitter stream of life and spent much of my time trying to take hold of whatever it is I think will save me.  But that didn’t work, not a bit….the surge of circumstances was too much and I got pretty banged up along the way and always seemed to be holding my breath as I tumbled along. 

 

These days, finally, I discovered that sometimes leaning back, tucking those thrashing arms inside and letting out that mouthful of air is what I should have done all along.  Go with the flow.  Feel my breath fill me with life and watch the waters, now calm, carry me….well, I don’t know exactly where they will take me.  And that’s alright. Its wonderful. It’s a bit exciting actually.

 

I’m gaining wisdom. Learning how to step back from my expectations, plans, and attachments.  I’m watching myself relax on the inside.  This stream of life, I’m riding it. Maybe there will be rough waters or even a waterfall ahead….but it is possible that that cascade of water will plunge me over the edge into a calm pool of warm water surrounded by amazing things {like hot guys in loin cloths serving drinks with little  pink umbrellas in them. My fantasy. Don’t judge.}. 

 

Take a breath. Dive in.

 

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