Mindfulness does not come easy to me. It never has and there is a part of me which fears that it never will. I want to be mindful. I want to feel rooted. I try to not try to be mindful. But somehow, I end up always working for it. I think my difficulties with grounding spawn from my lack of realized self-identity. I know I have a purpose, I know the struggles I’ve endured and the hardships I face on the daily are intentional. I have not been given a life I am incapable of nurturing. But I do find myself questioning how I can cultivate meaning from the chaos, which surrounds me. How might I embody peaceful pandemonium?
I attended my first yoga class out of desperation for movement. High impact movement wasn’t an option for me at the time and I was encouraged to attend a restorative yoga class at a local studio - I obliged.
I remember picking out a grey mat from the studio shelf and rolling it out in the back corner of the studio. Everyone else was closer to the front of the room, it’s like I felt more comfortable in the back; my inexperience shouldn’t be showcased. I sat down on the mat and gazed around the room. Yogis with previous experience were fitting in some pre stretches before the instructor took to the front. I began reaching for my toes and twisting my upper body from side to side. My hamstrings seared and I heard my back crack as my spine rotated. The instructor lit two cylindrical candles. They smelt of lavender and rosemary – it reminded me of my grandparent’s house, a combination of the lavender potpourri in Grandma’s drawers and the spiced roast my Gaw insisted on cooking each and every Sunday. I recall crinkling my nose, thinking how peculiar it was that these candles should combine those particular fragrances. The instructor laid her vibrant purple mat out horizontally; the line drew my eye to a large Buddha statue in the corner, I had seen something similar at Homesense last week. She introduced herself and I did this thing I used to do when I was a kid where I picked out the sound of her S’s. She even enounced them in her SH’s. The tone made me feel nostalgic, calm - ready.
From the moment my head touched the floor in Savasana I knew this yoga thing was for me. I kept my eyes closed for half of that practice. I didn’t feel the need to open them. I didn’t want to look at what others were doing, because I knew my competitive mind was not yet accustomed to doing anything for the sheer sake of doing it. I liked that – the shutting off of my competitive mind. The world seemed quieter, slower, more peaceful. I couldn’t hit certain poses. Pigeon pose caused both my feet to fall asleep leaving them numb and tingling for a few downward dogs. I couldn’t Padmasana for the life of me, no way my left hip was going there. I hadn’t balanced in what felt like forever, shakiness Natarajasana I could have imagined. This shocked me as a previous gymnast, I thought all that beam practice would have come in handy.
Yes, many poses were challenging. But what was so different about this form of challenge was that I felt content with where I was and excited about where it would take me. My hips don’t naturally turn out, my feet always fall asleep and I hadn’t been on a beam in probably three years. I still made it through that class. I made it through that class and I left the studio feeling gratified and thankful for just being. This realization, in and of itself, was the yoga-love-trigger for me. I have never loved myself. I have never allowed myself to love myself. There’s always been something wrong with me, I’ve done something wrong or I’ve failed. I never voiced this hurt, but instead just lived with a fragmented heart and a muddled mind. In that first yoga class, I felt love for myself. I was thankful for my strengthening body, my curious mind, my opening heart and, despite so much struggle, my happy spirit. I felt the warrior in myself. I was present and mindful. I saw, smelled, touched, heard and felt with intensity. I saw, smelled, touched, heard and felt the here and now. Mindfulness does not come easy to me. But in that first yoga class, I felt mindfulness penetrate my soul. I felt closer to a purpose, to meaning, to myself. Time spent practicing yoga, is time spent getting to know yourself.
One of my favorite quotes is by Leo Tolstoy, “If you want to be happy, be.” Yoga encourages me to be. Be me, only me, forever and always.
The honest learnings and raw reflections of my practice and my life. Unedited.