Thursday, March 14, 2013

March Rebellion

I awoke this morning stiff and sore at the sight of winter’s black, littered sidewalks. It was in the low 30’s and my car didn't need warming. The snow is melting and spring is just toying with us. The clocks are shooting bullets and minutes and seconds into our daylight hours and when I awake it’s still dark out. The dreariness of winter has crept in. I rolled onto my yoga mat early like a bear this morning. Way before the sun was up, I started breathing. I glued my palms to the ground faithfully, but routinely: Down dog. Breathe. Stretch. Plank. Breathe. Flow. Reach. Wake up.Warrior. Breathe… Get up. Go to work. Make dinner. Make more money. Brush your teeth. Floss. Get your work done. Get to bed on time. Get up. Do it all over again…

The rebellion started in my yoga practice at a very distinct moment last March. I suddenly felt a piercing shot of sweetness in my lower back. A sharp shooting pain that started in my left butt cheek, creased into my hip, and shot straight up my spine. In a quick moment I just exhaled and collapsed into pain on the ground. Now traditionally,my usual response to something like this might be anger and frustration at myself, embarrassment, or blame on the yoga teacher for pushing us too hard. Perhaps it’s an old injury? Maybe I did the move wrong? Maybe I had just taken my usual moves for granted and stopped engaging my core for protection. All it takes isa second of disengagement; just a second of having your guard down, and you’re down for the count. I would frantically try to diagnose the problem and even panic while imagining what life would be like if I couldn't ever move my legs again. 

After years and years of self-masochism, something inside my heart finally clicked into place. I gathered myself in child’s pose. My forehead touched the ground in worship and gratitude. I just slowed the noise in my head and tears and sweat dripped onto my mat. I sat with the pain. I sat with the discomfort and didn't struggle. I was that girl crying in yoga class, but instead of judgment or justification for the tears, I just let it all go.

You’ll be okay. You’re strong enough. I told myself kindly. Sometimes these things happen. It’s not your fault,Amy, you’ll heal. A kind, inner voice started speaking to me compassionately. I stretched through the pain and tried to just breathe. I started to pick my body up but had to re-learn the most basic moves to compensate for my left hip.Finally, I didn't force movement; I just rested. I was forced to sit quietly and take up the usual space on my mat with just my breath alone. While still in savasana, the world moved frantically around me, but a peace came over me. Then,a fierce confidence in the universe hit me. I felt my body heavy and painless;a feast to the earth that supported it. Everything that was meant to happen will just happen, and I will be okay.

It was in that moment, with the ground underneath me, that I started receiving exactly what I wanted. I started manifesting my intentions  I stopped the usual cravings and pangs and started trusting in abundance. I stopped wishing for a partner to woo me with flowers and buy a home with me. I stopped crossing my fingers and toes to get through the next paycheck. I stopped longing to get married and have kids. I stopped craving a mother who made me soup when I was sick and I finally stopped yearning for a father who stopped drinking. This was my rebellion: A break in the patterns of yearning and replacing the frantic thoughts with trust. Suddenly I expected greatness and nothing less.

A year later, this March is even more insistent than the last. My brother called with a cryptic message explaining that my father was in the hospital again from drinking too much. I felt a twinge of pain in my lower back this morning on my mat; a simple reminder to slow down, breathe and sit with the discomfort of winter. My rebellion is to trust that spring will eventually come and I simply bow my head and say thank you for it when it does. 

I don’t search or grasp in downward dog anymore. I don’t look around at other people in class and reach for them. I just rest. I expect flowers and romance. I expect warm soup from my dear friends. I’m building a home for myself and I have children all around me. Life is not monotonous anymore. I just let my palms sink into the mat and my strong arms float my hips up, effortlessly. I dive and jump in. The pain in my hip always soothes eventually, but remains an occasional reminder not to lean too much onto the future. Letting go, living in the present, and being kind to myself, are all extreme acts of bravery. Trusting in the abundance of the universe is one of the most delicious acts of rebellion. 


This article first appeared in Minerva Rising. Visit their site and support them! So honored to be a contributor in this literary journal.