I feel like I'm riding quickly on a stationary bike. Life and time force forward motion and yet I feel stagnant. I ride a wave back and forth between feeling OK, questioning why I feel OK, judging myself, and then not feeling OK. The human body is a powerful, powerful thing when we treat it right. That has been my course of action lately: treat my body well. Feed her. Exercise her. Quiet her. Keep her busy. Rest her. Give her vitamins. I have tricked my physical body into thinking I'm OK, and honestly, it's helping. But then I remember. It hurts to remember.
I took a Kundalini yoga class this morning with a friend. I set my intention: "Remember". At one point the teacher told the class that a true yogi can fall asleep in an instant. She has the power to quiet her mind into stillness in just moments. I was drifting off when she spoke the words. I realized that the yoga I've been doing over the past two and a half months has been the most self-serving and true that my practice has ever been.
Over the past year, I would often tell you I needed a new inspiration for my yoga practice. Yoga had taken a back seat to love, music, travel, and work. I would rather lay in bed with you than jump out of bed to get my practice in. I'd choose dancing to your band's show over an evening class. And when we would get to the studio, I would often practice without much passion. I focused on sticking a handstand, hitting every pose I saw the Instagram celebrity yogis doing, wanting my ass to look hot in yoga pants, or growing my 'fan-base'. I practiced for my ego with a side serving of peace-of-mind.
I searched for new teachers, new styles, new studios. You and I drove to Denver last summer to try out a new style of yoga. "I think I can get on this bandwagon," I told you after the practice. I was slightly inspired, but honestly, hardly. You preferred the tried and true practice that we did at our local studio. You practiced because it made you centered, strong, and energized. You practiced for the right reasons. I was in a rut and searching for something to call me back to my mat.
I was fully invested in the yoga lifestyle career-wise. I taught multiple times a week to a diligent student body. I worked eight to ten hours a day designing a national yoga and conscious-living magazine. I worked on side projects in the yoga industry: yoga apparel, assisting studios, attending workshops, teaching at festivals. But my heart wasn't really committed. My heart was committed to YOU.
The day you died I taught a class about nurturing those you love. It was one of my favorite classes I'd ever taught. You had been my inspiration. It was at noon. You died just over twelve hours later. I talked about how you had been under the weather lately. You were heartbroken and ill. I spoke about how it had been the first time I'd ever really, truly been able to take care of you. You often resisted letting others help. You liked to care for yourself. You were always so capable. But, those last couple days, I took care of you in a way I had never taken care of anyone. It was beautiful. It was sacred. I cradled you in my arms those days, the way you usually cradled me. You cried on my shoulder the way I had cried on yours. I made you meals and brought them to you in bed. I held your hand because you needed your hand to be held. Nurturing you felt natural. I felt powerful in that role. I felt needed. I felt loved and loving. I am so grateful I was able to step into that role, even if it was only for a short time. I also will never forget that class I taught. I was so happy, so complete, and so purposeful.
As fucked up as it sounds, your death was the kick in the ass I needed to reinvigorate my commitment to my practice. It has become my life-force. It didn't take a new teacher. It didn't take a new style of yoga. It didn't take being able to stand on my hands. It didn't take new followers on social media. It took loosing the thing that was most important to me. It wasn't worth it. But this is what life has offered. When you take out the largest piece of the puzzle, the other pieces have a new space to fill. My yoga practice – asana, meditation, self-inquiry, breathwork, and way of being – has been crucial in this process. It has saved my life.
In suffering, as in all facets of life, we have options. We can choose avoidance. Running away from our problems, keeping our head down, not confronting our feelings, not talking about it – I have tried this. It's stifling and not my nature. We can choose to numb. Temporarily soothing ourselves with drugs, alcohol, or other agents – I have also tried this. The highs aren't worth the lows. We can sit with the pain. Empty our agenda, be still, wallow, and marinate in loss – I have tried this. At times, it's necessary, but it's also self-harming. Or we can choose creation. Taking what we have learned from the situation, the memories, the love, and building from it with a sense of forward motion – I have tried this. It's exhausting and although I feel like I'm running in place, it serves me.
As I approach the three month mark of your departure from this plane, I no longer wake each morning reaching for you. I know that you are gone before I open my eyes now. I don't have traumatic visions every time I close my eyelids down. I also have a hard time remembering. It's as if my brain has put up a wall preventing me from focusing on the past as a defense mechanism, as a way to keep me safe. So I have to really sit still and set the intention: "Remember". Sometimes I let myself. And it really, really hurts. Other times I sit with the present breath, as my practice has taught me. Just. This. Breath. And I can keep moving and feeling OK.
Not happy. Not joyful. Not loved. Not complete. Not healed. But OK.