“BE PREPARED TO FALL OVER WITH A SMILE.” – J. Brown, yoga teacher, instructing Tree Pose.
I’m falling. Again. I don’t think I got the job that I wanted. Or the other one, that I wanted just as much.
I’ve been falling a lot since moving five months ago. I left my beloved hometown of Washington, DC – and long-developed communities of love, support and stability – to be closer to my aging father in Nashville, TN. And it’s been hard.
Without getting into all the details, I’ll summarize: financially, materially, physically, emotionally, spiritually…I am facing the hugest challenges I’ve ever encountered. I am more unstable and insecure than I have ever been in my entire 48 years of life.
“In Tree Pose, it really is important for you to make a practice of falling over with a smile. Because it’s not so much about whether or not you can stand on one leg. It’s about what’s happening in your thoughts right now while you’re doing this, and if you can have some say about that. Can you just be lighthearted enough in this moment to fall over like it’s no big deal, regardless of everything else?”
Thank god for yoga. Thank god for 12-step recovery. Thank god for wise guides and teachers. Thank god for my willingness to listen, absorb, act, practice. Thank god for the innate understanding that – by taking my yoga practice off the mat, my 12-step principles out of the rooms, and, my mentors’ suggestions into my life – I have infinite resources for surviving tough times, which gradually transmute into a state of thriving and serving.
Sometimes I think that the more I fall over, the more easily I surrender, accept and reach contentment. The more easily I smile despite the bumps and bruises. Smile and go on.
“The idea is, every time you do a tree pose practice, you make it about summoning this mental framework where you can fall over and smile like it’s no big deal. On good days and bad days, and when you’re falling over a lot, or when things are good or bad, over time…you’ll get better at having that mental framework. Having lightheartedness, even when things aren’t going the way you want them too. And that’s a really valuable skill. More valuable than being able to stand on one leg, for sure!”
Thank god for those mornings when I wake up with a worried mind, knowing that I haven’t heard from potential employers, don’t have next month’s rent, and don’t have what I need to thrive. Thank god for those days when I ask god, “What do you want from me? What am I doing wrong? Do you even exist?” Those times when, for three hours after my sunrise alarm rings, my brain is occupied with doubt and questions. Those days when I frustratingly go back to sleep, over and over. And then finally…FINALLY…put my feet on the floor and do the next right thing.
Today, that thing was putting on J. Brown’s Yoga DVD. This morning, I did the complete practice for the 1st time since Winter Solstice, when a DC friend mailed me this wise and knowing gift.
“YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING OR BE ANYTHING. YOU CAN REST.”
Despite five months of living hell, I am taking care to take care. By putting my wellness first, I have the health and energy to show up for my dad, for my family, for my community. And, hours, days and periods of great effort during this demanding phase of life – I rest. I allow myself longer hours of sleep, unstructured time in nature, restorative deep relaxations.
“Let your breath come in and out all by itself. Your body surrenders to gravity and the floor. The effort that you’ve made on regulating your breath and your body is relinquished. And then…all the effort that you’re making in your life, jobs and apartments and relationships. All of it. It can be relinquished. You can have some time to lie here, where you don’t have to do anything and you don’t have to be anything. And maybe…just existing, you would observe – or at least just entertain – the notion that it’s inherently worthwhile.”
This statement at the end of J. Brown’s guidance into deep relaxation really made me smile today. Because there’s only 0.02% chance of my being alive today. I was conceived after my mother had a tubal ligation. And despite their financial pressures and familial problems, my parents chose to have and keep me. In addition, as a recovering alcoholic who was active in my addiction for decades before getting sober 11 years ago, I could and should have been dead a million times.
I needed that reminder this morning.
If I ever doubt my existence (or god’s), I need only recall how many falls (falls that started even before I set foot on this earth) it’s taken for me to reach where I stand today: alive, resilient, sober, awake, responsible, able.
Oh my gosh – I always laugh at myself when I fall out of poses! (Yes, I’m that giggling goofball in the room.) I invite you to give it a try!
And now, back to the job hunt. Thanks for reading. And smiling. OM Shanti.