I pull from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening quite often, whether in therapy sessions or a yoga classes. A recent entry created that subtle little tingling behind my nose and eyes that lets me know I’m being touched by something meaningful and resonant; that feeling that precedes tears and allows me to sink into the moment just a bit more.
He writes “The line between living and watching is very thin. A moment’s rest or pause for reflection can spread into a thickness of hesitation, and the next thing we know, reaching out or saying something or picking up the phone or stopping in unannounced is difficult, as if there is suddenly some huge wall to climb just to be heard.”
There’s a simple magic in the way my two-year old son Elias simply states “I want up,” or “rock rock please.” We all began with an easy ownership of what we really want. There is no clutter between the very impulse of desire itself, and our expression of it. Early on, though, this honesty fades behind fears of vulnerability and rejection, as we all add barriers of varying sorts between ourselves and others. We rush through moments of interaction, afraid to slow down, missing the cues that perhaps that someone would also like to be touched in some way… I feel safe saying that we all know this to be true. And we can all understand the downsides.
Nepo goes on to write “To feel isolated is part of the human journey. But when we obey the feelings of hesitation and separation more powerfully than those of love, we start to experience numbness and depression. This is when we start to live like statues, believing that all we can do is watch.”
So what to do? Yoga gives us opportunity to work symbolically with the body, emotions, thoughts, and heart. And spring is a wonderful time to practice reaching out, expanding, stretching towards. An exercise that helps us do this—and one where we are safe from rejection—is to sit or stand in the sunshine, and ever so slightly allow the body to open to it, to reach just a bit. Feel the buoyancy of your upper body, rising gently up. Feel the planted anchors of the feet, holding you safely as you voyage just a bit. Absorb. Close your eyes. Smile. Receive. The sun will not run and hide.
And maybe you’ll then feel more of a willingness to slow down this way the next time a human connection feels close at hand. Just maybe, this practice will ripple through into your social context, and you will allow for more moments of love over fear, aliveness over the statuesque. True strength is about being vulnerable, and knowing we will heal if hurt. Grow open and thrive.
Namaste as always,