The minute that one of our teachers – I’ll call her Marla, as she reminds me of Marla Thomas – described the second stage of Kripalu Yoga, I knew what was coming — we were going to have to hold a pose, probably a difficult one at that, for a good long while. An annoying while. Just long to enough to make most of pretty sure that we couldn’t do it – and yet we would.
“Get up everyone!” Marla encouraged us. And then she sunk down into a wide-legged squat — or Goddess Pose. We all followed her and there, with our feet turned out and our knees at roughly 45-degree angles, our arms to the side or overhead, we stayed. And stayed.
Breathe. Know it’s going to continue and keep going. Know it’s going to end and keep going. Breathe. It will feel good when it’s over. But now it’s hard. And that is that. So breathe.
Kripalu yoga emphasizes “practicing compassionate self-acceptance and developing witness consciousness — the observation of the mind’s activity without judgment.” And what a better way to be compassionate toward yourself or to observe your persnickety, niggling mind than by squatting for several minutes in a room that is so humid it could be confused with a bath house. (Who knew the Berkshires are really in Cambodia?)
The long-held pose is really just a metaphor for anything unruly or uncomfortable that life throw at you – divorce, cancer, losing a job – or just having your freezer break down on a summer day. You do it once and it sucks but you open, you stretch. And the next thing comes and you know a bit better that you will get through it. Not only that, but you’ll grow. So you squat. And you breathe.
An hour before this squatting exercise, I’d been at lunch and someone invited me to choose a Guidance Card from a deck. I selected “Higher Powers,” which said that I am trying to make a decision, that I feel torn between two options or even two polarities, and it’s important that I listen now to what I want to do – to my Higher Powers. That pull is undoubtedly the pull between Responsibility and Passion that I’ve explored here and here and other places.
I read the card through twice. So here you are again. Clearly this ongoing questioning is not going to disappear while I’m here.
It takes – gulp – a very brave heart to listen to one’s higher powers. To do what you “want” and not feel selfish or bad or just plain wrong. Just the act of getting myself here has put me in the vicinity of my Higher Power. And I’m hoping that I’ll get a little bit closer this month. Let’s just say that I’m willing to spend hours and days squatting in Her neighborhood, watching my mind, breathing space into Possibility, and compassionately accepting all that arises there.