Interesting that the invitation to join this blog would come the first day of a week where I consciously decided to take a break from my Ashtanga practice. A pulled shoulder/neck muscle seemed to only be getting more aggravated by continuous practice, and so I gave my body permission to rest.
Upon opening the book I was reminded of how gifted a writer and teacher Sharon is. I had forgotten how beautifully she translates some very loaded and difficult Buddhist concepts into a language we can all understand, a language that we all speak regardless of what we do or where we are in the world.
So this morning I climbed the steps to my little attic room and plugged in a CD player which usually sits in our kitchen. It's a small sparse room. A trunk sits to one side under an eve, with my laptop and a folder of manuscripts next to it. My orange yoga mat stays laid out on the floor.
Today is a remarkably windy day for Cincinnati. Something I miss very much about New York is windy days. The weather in the Ohio Valley tends to stagnate longer, I suppose it has something to do with being landlocked. But today the wind was strong and loud. Tree branches lay scattered along along our street. Upstairs seemed the perfect place to be. There is one small window in this room that looks out over the trees. I could hear the wind chimes my neighbor hung on her back porch when she moved back from China last year.
I had debated bringing a house phone upstairs with me, but decided my cell phone was enough. There is no turning off all outside communication for me, I can't. This summer my ten year old son was diagnosed with Epilepsy. And though he is in a good place right now, my fall was plagued with calls from the school nurse. Some calls were because of seizures, and some because of side effects due to the medicine his doctor had first prescribed. One of the more difficult aspects of seizure disorders is their unpredictability. I don't know that I will ever be in that place again where I take the good health of my children for granted, a place where I will not worry about the possibility of a seizure occurring.
So I set my phone next to the CD player that sits on a shelf above me,where I cannot see it, pushed play and sat down, crossed ankles on my yoga mat. During the introduction I made a mental note to wear more lose fitting pants tomorrow. My hips felt restricted in my corduroys. Then I remembered I hadn't yet made the beds. I thought to myself, I will be sitting here the whole time thinking about unmade beds. It's something I do at the start of my day everyday. After I make the beds I can start my writing day. My yoga practice has become part of writing practice. If meditation is to become part of that practice, I want the beds made before I begin. I paused the introduction, went downstairs and made the beds. Came back up pushed play and sat down. I listened to Sharon, I listened to the wind and the chimes. The meditation began. Was I breathing too deeply after those first few breaths? Should I be counting so that my inhale is the same length as my exhale? With each of these thoughts I went back to the breath. I stretched out and lay on my back. It was too hard to stay seated like that in my jeans. I heard the chimes and went back to my breath. I felt tension in my jaw and opened my lips slightly remembering Sharon's words "so that a grain of rice could pass through". I went back to my breath. The chime on the CD player sounded. I wondered if five or twenty minutes had passed. I rose from the floor. Twenty had passed. The wind was still blowing while the chimes outside continued to ring, and the school nurse hadn't called.