Friday, October 4, 2013

A Sip of Freedom

“Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.”
― Rumi
Back in January, I went to my favorite yoga class. It was the first time I’d practiced yoga since my mom’s passing on November 29, 2012. The signs of depression were sinking in, and I had all but stopped moving my body—no yoga, no dancing, no exercise.

In that class, I had traumatic flashbacks of seeing my mom’s body in the hospital. And then I kept thinking, over and over again, about how her body could never do the things that mine can do—the things I was attempting right then, during class.

I’m not sure I could ever fully explain what happened in that hour and a half, or why that experience was so deeply traumatizing—but my grief was overwhelming.

From that point forward, the thought of practicing yoga again made me shiver.

I just wasn’t ready.

A month or two ago, my friend Liz Tucker came to town and held a bhavana in motion class at Move Studio.

Yoga was part of the class.

I knew that, and I felt that if I was going to step back on the mat, I wanted to do it in a safe place, with a trusted teacher and friend to help guide me through it.

For about the first 10 minutes that I stood on the mat, I wept. Tears flooded my face and the mat below me.

But I got through it.

But that isn’t what this story is about—I just wanted to give you some context, so you could grasp how much progress I’ve made in the last few months.

I journaled this last night after exercising and practicing yoga:

I’m sitting here on my purple yoga mat, crying. I’m not entirely certain why—except that the other day I realized I needed and wanted some time in pigeon pose, and so, that’s where I finally went.

And then the tears came, as I realized it wasn’t hard like it used to be, it was just a really nice stretch, a lovely pose, one of yielding and release and surrender and femininity.

And then, I lost it—realizing how far I’ve come in three years, since I first attempted yoga—and pigeon pose—
realizing just how much my body has yielded—
to my whims, wants, needs, desires, addictions, sadness, depression, grief—

My body has witnessed it all.

I am thankful…

Deeply thankful for being 38, and I get to choose how the women in y family are remembered. I honor them by dancing because they cannot dance. I honor them by practicing yoga because they cannot—and they never did.

I honor them by living as fully as I can—as exponentially as I can.

“I rise from all my sorrow, I let the sun shine on my face,
All alone in comfort, it’s my solitude I embrace.”
 – from the song ‘Quicksand’ by Natalie Walker/Thievery Corporation

I felt that tonight, as I moved on my makeshift dance floor with a fire and fervor inside of me as I realized—I am one body, dancing for three women who never danced—my grandmother, my mom, and my sister.

I dance the dance they never danced.

I dance my own dance, too.

My dance is the thread that binds together the lifetimes of women in my tribe who are no longer on this earth in physical form.

I practice yoga awkwardly. I am wobbly and odd, but interspersed are moments of purity—
of tranquility—
of grace—
of beauty—

A beauty I cannot express in words, and tonight, it expressed itself in tears during pigeon pose, and I flashed back to my traumatic yoga experience from January, and I honored the depth of grief I felt in those very long moments, realizing I was already (and finally) grieving many lifetimes worth of loss, sorrow, and despair.

And more tears came as I realized the freedom I am beginning to feel—

Freedom from chains that bound me to the past, freedom from the guilt I have always felt under the surface, freedom from a prison I will never adequately describe here.

This life of mine is a gift, and the best—the very best gift I can give to the women of my tribe, including me, including my family—here and gone—is to live it.

Live it fully and out loud…

Live it authentically and imperfectly and messily.

I am here for some unknown number of days. It is a gift I am only just beginning to truly unwrap and discover.

It is a gift I finally feel worthy of receiving.

My mom and my dad and God and the universe and all that is divine within and without—gave me this—
this gift of life.

And it is up to me to truly live it.

Thank you. Thank you for this blessing… thank you for this body, for this moment, for the dance, for the practice.

Thank you for this beautiful moment—where serenity coincides with joy.

And thank you, most of all, for love.

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