Saturday, March 24, 2012

The power of letting go

Four summers ago at outdoor yoga, I was first introduced to the idea of headstand. 

At the time, headstand was this thing. This goal. This unattainable, top-of-Mount-Everest goal that I thought I would never achieve. Oh, sure, I tried the little egg preparation. I decided that was as far as I could go, as far as I needed to go. It gave me the feeling of being upside down without the vulnerability.

I didn't practice headstand for three years. I practiced with my hands in a tripod with my head and rested my knees on my elbows, and that was my headstand. And it's a fine pose and gives all the benefits and keeps you safe.

And then things started to change. I changed. I discovered social dancing, I opened my mouth about things I didn't like at work, I lost my job. I went into a deep depression. I wanted to feel strong again, so I started doing the Five Tibetans, which are these great exercises that align the chakras and strengthen the core and made me feel so strong and confident. I horsed around, showing kids at the daycare how to start a headstand with that little egg. And before I knew it, my feet were floating up.

I was shocked and scared. My knees came right down to my elbows again and I couldn't get them to lift. This went on for a while.

And then another day, I was putting a sequence together for a friend, and thought, well, some kind of inversion on the end would make sense.

So there I went, into my little egg, and my feet floated all the way up.

I was, of course, so shocked that I fell over.

But there it was - headstand. Something I'd let go of so thoroughly that I didn't even want it. It suddenly appeared.

When I was a child, my grandparents had a framed poster on their wall with a picture of a monarch butterfly. The quotation at the bottom was 

Monarch Butterfly Red Zinnia 2050px

Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.
-- Henry David Thoreau
Which may actually be from Nathaniel Hawthorne, according to the wisdom of the internet.
I had a challenge this past week - owing to a situation that made me uncomfortable, in a place where I was previously comfortable, I had to go someplace new. 
Last week I could have gone, but I couldn't quite see it. I went out in the yard and took my meditation there, among the new crocuses and burgeoning weeds.

Within five minutes of closing my eyes I knew that it didn't matter. That whatever decision I made would be okay, that I was deciding between going dancing and going to yoga that night, and either decision would be a thing I wanted to do and either thing would end up being the right thing to do and the thing I most needed to do. I knew that I would try the new dance studio when I was ready, and that I needed to let myself need it, and then I would be ready.
This week I wanted to dance so badly, I knew it was time to be ready. I was nervous. My stomach started feeling uneasy around noon. I checked the information over and over again, wondering if the week I picked to go would be the week it was cancelled for mysterious reasons. I was shaking when I walked through the door, even though I knew there would be at least a couple familiar faces there.
There were more than a few - it was nearly the same crowd. I was recognized, welcomed, even used for a demo as the other instructor fiddled with the music. It's different there, a smaller crowd, a different floor, a different vibe. But it's all right. It keeps me dancing. I let go of pushing myself, and I floated to where I needed to be, just as my feet floated up to point at the ceiling.

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