This is my first morning without the kids this week, and predictably, I woke from my internal 6am alarm clock. But today I allowed myself the sweet grace of a little more sleep, still smiling the smile I went to bed with last night after a much needed evening with candles and music and poetry and the smallest pour of whiskey.
It’s a beautiful gift to self to come to the earth gradually and with breath and sunlight, rather than by the blare of an alarm clock. To move slowly through that period of transition. To stretch and unfurl.
And so today I decided to do something I have not done in a while, to roll out my yoga mat and give myself the gift of a short ten-minute practice.
As I do every single time I return, feeling the stretch of muscles that have been begging for release and the way breath settles deeper somehow, and the way my feet root into the earth just a little more solidly, I wonder:
Why on earth do I ever allow myself to move away from this, when there is nothing about this that does not feel needed and good?
And then it came to me, as I bent and twisted, reaching and breathing and feeling the tightness and constriction name itself, and maybe even release, just a tiny bit.
This is what it is to be human, to be walking around in these bodies of blood and bone and breath. This is the journey, to return to ourselves again and again, just as I – no matter how long away – will always return to the mat.
I’m never the star in yoga class. I don’t have the natural flexibility, nor do I usually stick to it for long enough to unlock what holds me on a more deep level. I have bent knees when others are straight. My spine curves when it ought to be lengthened. I can never quite manage to balance in crow. And so it is that I often feel the same in life. Moving slower than I would like through whatever muck I find myself in. Turning right when the rest of the room is turning left. Never quite finding the balance to master the more challenging balances with finesse and grace.
And I lose myself. Again and Again. Despite how damn good it feels when I return to wholeness and embodiment. I abandon the practice. I leave, or perhaps it is more honest to say that I forget to stay.
We all do.
I walk off the mat of my own knowing. I roll it up in the corner and I forget, moving through life without attention or intention. Becoming more constricted, more tight, more folded.
And I blame myself for that. Just as I disparage myself for not having the willpower to stick with a practice that is never anything short of a gift. I speak to myself unkindly and ask how I could be so fickle. How I could have wandered off again, leaving myself behind, betraying what I know to be true. Folding inward, tightening around my own idea of what I should be – like sails tied tightly around the mast of a docked ship that wants nothing more than to ride the open waves of the ocean she calls home.
And then it happens, as it always does. That there is a quiet night. And instead of sitting mindlessly on my phone or computer, I stop to light the candles on my coffee table. Three blood red, sitting on an Atlantic ocean stone, and one white. And I choose the music that speaks to me right then. I move a little, sliding hands over skin and remembering what it is to be here, alive. I pour the smallest amount of whiskey into a mason jar, and hold it up to the light of those candles, amber glowing in cut glass. And then I take a sip – not for the alcohol, but because there is some kind of alchemy there, in that first sip. Some sort of unfolding. A glimpse. A memory. A thread.
If I follow it, if the space is right – I can speak or write or dream or dance my way into truths I don’t fully understand yet. I can live inside of the questions and let them be sacred and fertile. I can allow the wanting of what is wanted, in that sliver of space and to name it and know it as good.
And those nights – I realize that I can return, again and again, to the spaces that are wholly me. Just like I can return to the mat. And that it isn’t the leaving that is worth all the attention, nor even the time away. That one moment of choice. It is that simple step. The stepping back. To the mat. To the music and the muse and the glow of candle light into the darkening night.
To the self.
Perhaps we don’t need to worry so much about the spaces in between. The vastness of the desert we wander through, searching for the way home. Perhaps that
time is vital in ways we will never understand. And perhaps we can find space to accept that the journey toward and away from is a part of the dance. Part of what makes the return so deep and so sweet and so whole and so holy.
This morning, on the mat, instead of blaming myself for all the days I had lived in constriction – I gave myself ten minutes to unfurl. To feel the newness of my body – different every single time I come home. To be fully in that moment of return. To fill my own sails with the air I’ve been carrying in any own lungs, all this time.
Get Lost. Breathe. Return.
This is how we live. And fuck if it isn’t beautiful.