I’d really love to understand
why some people have received their stimulus checks
and I have not.
I want to understand
why some people have received unemployment benefits
and I have not.
It took two months for my tax return to come in,
and others received theirs after two weeks.
I am a single mother and am starting to sweat it,
being in this holding pattern, waiting, waiting
to hear news.
So I am making call after call after call.
And…guess what keeps happening?
I keep getting placed on hold.
Holding pattern, placed on hold,
maybe I just need to be held!
I know complaining won’t help,
so I am asking for your prayers, friends.
Could you please pray that
what is mine arrives swiftly, without delay?
Could you visualize me and my kids flourishing,
with plenty of resources to keep our household going?
Thanks for your help.
When I believe my thoughts I am anxious.
When I connect with reality, I am at peace.
I have known this for a long time,
and now more than ever it holds true.
It is so humbling to admit that all of my training
couldn’t prepare me for this reality.
Yoga is fun and neat when you’re sitting in a room
with 30 people, learning how to teach people yoga
in a thriving studio on a normal day.
No one prepared me for a Pandemic.
No one told me how it would feel
when I couldn’t see my students anymore.
No one explained what it would be like
to go into a store and find empty shelves.
No one described the despair I’d feel
contemplating bringing my children up
during a widespread economic collapse.
After so many years of encouraging my students to breathe,
I find myself holding my breath.
After teaching my students how to stay present,
I find myself feeling anxious about the future.
After guiding my students into deep relaxation,
I feel anxiety alive in my body.
I remember that this will one day be a memory.
When this is all over,
I’d like to be able to tell the story about how I realized
I could just fully relax,
how I spent my time creating wonderful things
and then the Pandemic was over,
and I could look back on the quarantine
feeling proud that I stayed strong…
I guess I better start breathing
and staying present,
just like I’ve been teaching all these years.
I’d like to get to the point
where the average experience
of being alive feels safe and pleasant,
rather than anxiety provoking and heavy.
Breathing, looking around,
really seeing and feeling the truth
that all is well,
my peaceful life isn’t as far
as my mind would have me believe.
Well, I did it again!
Returning home this afternoon
after teaching two yoga classes;
my music director neighbor was outside
and mentioned a choral concert
he was conducting at a church downtown,
one hour after my evening workshop
I think I can make it, I told him.
But I may be kind of blahhhhh;
I’ve had a busy weekend.
Well, he said, We’ll see ya when we see ya!
I taught my workshop,
and my impulse was to go straight home
and once again
feel lonely and sorry for myself.
Don’t go to the city
the anxious one in me said,
You’ll have to worry about parking
and you’re a women
I made myself go.
I forced myself.
I found parking not far from the church,
arrived early, found a seat in the front row.
The music was so beautiful I cried.
Afterwards I gave my neighnor a hug,
thanked him for the invitation.
Home now, freshly showered,
safe and warm,
I’m so grateful I didn’t listen
to the anxious voice
telling me not to go.
I think I’m on a roll!
Just when I thought all was lost,
just when I felt defeated
and it looked like all my efforts were in vain,
Grace sweeps in and shows me
that all is well, and to just keep going.
When I’ve been looking through eyes
that cannot see clearly,
it’s time for a new way of seeing.
I cannot anticipate the magic of my future
looking through the lens of my past experiences.
My conditioned mind screams in terror;
it wants to know and understand and be in control.
Grace says, “Shhhh, shhhhhh, just breathe. Get still.”
When I listen to Grace, all is well.
I should keep listening to Grace.
If I am not the mean voice inside my head,
who am I ?
Am I any less the mean voice than the loving one?
And just who gets to determine who I am?
A houseful of belongings,
no motivation to figure out where they’re going,
and the clock ticks away unrelentingly.
This house is not my own.
Then again, neither is this body.
I rented this form from Planet Earth
and to her it shall return.
What will I do with this borrowed time,
as each day draws me closer to my death?
I dreamed of self-realization…
for the longest time I thought
each day would unlock a little more of the mystery.
But in the wake of this rude transition
from married to single
from wealthy to impoverished
from homeowner to homeless,
what does this self-realization journey matter?
Will God come and save me if I’m living in a box?
I need to take action,
and my will is gone.
My creative spark is snuffed out.
Or maybe these words provide a glimmer?
Someone had to write them.
Who is she?
I guess it isn’t all gone…
If I stay in the now,
everything is ok.
If I allow myself to regress to the past
or project into the future
I am filled with regret and shame
or anxiety and hopelessness.
Clearly the sane choice
is to stay in the now.
How do I do this?
I breathe, and I feel my breath.
I really look at my children
as they read, or play, or eat,
or argue with one another.
I notice my hands batting
at the insect that buzzes near my ears
as I walk in the humid forest,
earth floor damp,
ferns glowing emerald green
in the golden dusk light,
the beauty of it all.
Oh my mind,
I beg you.
Stay present. Stay with me.
Stay here now.
The abandoned one (A0)
and the yoga teacher (YT)
have a conversation:
AO: I can’t do this. I’m too hurt. I’m too scared.
YT: Just breathe. In this moment you are safe.
AO: I hate him. I am so angry at him
for doing this to me.
YT: Breathe. Slow down. You are safe.
AO: I will never be happy again.
YT: You can only be happy now.
AO: I am broken. No one will ever want me.
YT: You are inherently whole and complete,
just as you are. Feel this. Feel this breath.
AO: I am depressed and anxious. I want to die.
YT: This is temporary, like the weather.
You will live, and this will change.
AO: I am worthless. I am so ashamed of my choices.
YT: You are alive! How fortunate. Breathe into
the center of this hurt, this sadness. Give it room.
Feel it, and then let this feeling go.
AO: This is too much work. It isn’t fair.
YT: This moment. This breath. Feel your body.
Feel your heart beating. What a miracle!
AO: I’m about to be homeless. I’m terrified.
No one is going to rescue me. I don’t know what to do.
YT: Slow down. Breathe. You are going to be just fine.
There is a roof over your head right now.
Love this moment. This moment is all you have.
AO: I’m just so tired. I feel so beaten down, unwanted.
YT: Put your hands over your heart. Close your eyes.
Breathe deeply. You are infinite awareness.
AO: Why me? Why this? Why now? It isn’t fair.
YT: That’s only one part of your mind talking.
Listen to the part that is grateful for change.
Listen to the part that loves you.
Listen to the part that knows you are powerful.
AO: This is too much work.
YT: Yes. Struggling is a lot of work. Why not try surrender?
When faced with imminent homelessness
and being met with obstacle after obstacle
to securing a home for myself and my kids—
what real choice is there?
I can choose to be present and experience peace,
or I can choose to focus on the future
and feel terror.
The choice seems so easy, doesn’t it?
Just stay present. Just choose peace.
But then there is the reality of being human,
having been trained to avoid the present moment
for most of my life.
Yes, even as a yoga teacher,
even with my daily meditation practice
(over seven years now of daily meditation)
I still find it extraordinarily difficult
just to remain present.
There are so many ways I’ve learned
to just not be here. To just not feel.
I see that my body has been terrified for a long time,
perhaps since childhood…
perhaps I carry the terror of ancestors
struggling to survive,
a terror encoded in my genes
that no amount of therapy could cure.
My task becomes a reconditioning
of this body-mind,
to retrain my nervous system to udnerstand
that in this moment, I am safe.
In this moment, all is well.
Until I am able to gain more footing
on this path of peace,
I’ll need to be content with the space
between peace and terror,
and reconcile the one who is afraid
with the one who soothes, reassures, calms and holds.
God, let me find the One within me
that knows just what to do and what to say
to always bring me back home to the ground of being,
this moment where PEACE IS within me,
despite the chaos the swirls around on the outside.
Watching my mind
to make sure I don’t allow
the anxiety to take over.
And I thought watching kids was hard!
My mind takes more energy
than a newborn infant,
and worries me more than a teenager.
It needs constant nourishment
(at least newborns sometimes nap).
At any moment
it could grab the keys
and drive off with no word
about when it’s coming back home.
I’m wondering at what point
my mind will be mature enough
that I won’t need to call a sitter
when I want to leave it at home
for a few hours
so that I can have a break!