Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Breath and Beauty

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.” ~ Pema Chödrön,

Tonight's Yoga class, again, left me feeling  more serene and grounded. One thing my instructor has us do is dedicate each class to a particular intention. I expanded on my intention from last week, which was simply: peace. Tonight, I asked for strength. We did a bit more intense stretching tonight, but it felt really, really good. And my instructor talked about how Yogis believe we have 7,200 energy channels (or "Nadis"as they call them, also know as "chi" and "meridians") in our bodies and just like blood flows through our arteries, energy flows through our "energy body."

Without getting too "out there" with this, the part that hit me was when she said many of these channels get blocked, often by stress, or mental, physical or emotional anxieties, strife, etc. So we practiced imagining all of our energy flowing freely around us and through us. And wherever I felt a tightness or a heaviness, which, I observed over my heart and in my chest tonight, we were to imagine that area loosening up and becoming light and airy.

Eventually, I was able to do so, and it helped me ease even deeper into the meditation. Then, our instructor put on a Deepak Chopra CD, which focused on the breath as well as beauty. This was different for me, especially the "beauty" part. We were told to imagine something in our homes that we find to be beautiful. My mind immediately went to this painting on my wall:

I focused in on the contours of her back, the lace on her left arm, the angle of her neck, the vulnerability of the pose ... everything about it that I fell in love with the moment I saw it in the store. It made my heart ache, but in a very pure, untainted way ... the way you feel when you see the most beautiful sunset you've ever seen or when you look into your dog or cat's gentle, wise, innocent eyes.

“The artistic image is not intended to represent the thing itself, but, rather, the reality of the force the thing contains.” ~ James Baldwin

The next part of the meditation was to turn inward and think about a part of myself that I find beautiful. Not quite as easy ... for me. I decided to just let my mind's eye go to the first thing it found. It focused on compassion. I suddenly was standing outside of myself and looking into my eyes when they see someone hurting or when they hear someone's story, someone's pain, someone's scars. Then, an image of my heart swelling filled my mind, how it swells and aches whenever I think about the sad things in the world I wish I could fix or make better. It made me think about when I was a child and thought about joining the Peace Corp when I grew up ... or when I would look at someone hurting, or someone older, my grandfather, my godfather, elderly people or people getting picked on, teased, hurt. I would feel myself fill up so deep, I wanted to cry. I remember crying once, after looking at my grandfather around the table full of our family. I don't know, even now, what it was I felt and why I cried, just that something about the look in his face made my heart hurt.

So tonight, I let that be what it was. I let that pulse inside me. I chose to see the beauty in it, not the flaws. After all, that's the first place my mind took me, so I decided not to argue.

Finally, we turned our focus to the universe and the way it pulses too, the waves, the trees, the vibration of atoms, the wind, the growth and decay of life matter and how it ebbs and flows and pulses right along with our very breaths, our life force. And suddenly, I felt connected to it all. And even the threat of a thought, memory, recent pain or heartache that attempted to start my heart racing, I found a way to keep at bay, at least for that time being.

And when my eyes finally, languidly opened ...

I did feel stronger.

~ C ~

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