river flowing forward
darkness falls back
I am on my mat. Body bent in child’s pose, forehead touching mat, posterior reaching for heels, arms outstretched above my head. Torso pressing down towards the earth.
I am a supplicant bowing before the altar. I am a priestess offering up her prayers. I am hot and sweaty and I am crying.
They are unexpected these tears. Not particularly welcome either. Who cries in a yoga class?
My eldest daughter tells me it’s not unusual. Yoga touches the core. At the core, emotions flow and when released, can express themselves through tears.
Yeah? Well I don’t cry in public.
Good thing my forehead is pressed to the mat. Good thing I’m sweating so profusely. No one will be able to see my tears.
I replay the teacher’s words through my mind once again.
“The body needs the mind to be engaged. They need each other for strength, courage, balance…. Where the mind goes, the body follows.”
Even as I type the words, I can feel the emotional tug of recognition, remembrance, awakening.
My body and my mind. I have treated them as separate. Independent. They have continually battled for voice. To be heard. To be recognized. To be known — as independent. The mind fighting for control, the body fighting to lead the way, to take charge, to be in charge.
Connect. Make peace. Body bows to mind. Mind makes way for body.
I imagine a bridge. Water flowing beneath. My mind wants to take the bridge, the route of safety. My body wants to swim. To immerse itself in the raging waters and go with the flow.
From above, the water looks dangerous. “Do not go in,” my know-it-all mind cautions. “You do not know what lies within. The current is too strong. You might drown.” And then it adds for good measure, “Someone built that bridge to make it easier. Why not take the path of least resistance?”
“I will never know what lies within if I do not venture,” my dare-it-all body responds, desperately trying to break free of mind’s control. “Anyone can cross a bridge. But to swim across, to tempt the fates, to venture into the depths, to discover what’s really there, ahhh, that takes courage. Fortitude. A spirit of adventure. A willingness to risk.”
“The bridge is there for a reason,” mind parries back. “The object is to reach the other side. It doesn’t matter how you get there, what matters is you get there.”
“I disagree,” yells body. “You always decide where we’re going but I am the one who carries us there. I am the one who decides how we take the journey.”
And they duke it out on the safe side of the river, the distant shore forgotten in their fight for freedom from one another.
And the water keeps flowing and I keep holding back from stepping away from the shore where I am comfortable in what I know to be true. Whether I step onto the bridge, or enter the waters, it isn’t about how I take the journey, it is that I take it with mind and body engaged, each one supporting, loving, carrying and caring for the other.
To live means to risk. It requires stepping into the unknown. Pushing against boundaries, forging new trails.
Many years ago, Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”
And I remember what I have forgotten in my flight and fight to get to the other side.
On the journey, no matter where I am going, there is only one thing that carries me across, through and over. There is only one thing I need to carry to wade into the waters or step onto the safety of the bridge.
In Love, I am safe no matter where I go or how I travel.
In Love, body and mind travel united.
In Love, all things are possible.
I bent my head to the mat. Tears flowed and I found myself once again, flowing in Love.