Village, I felt like I was extricating myself from a bog this morning… heavy, reluctant. I’m tired. Of course, there’s the “I’m a parent” tired (in that I have seen every hour on the clock for the last few nights). But also the “I’m a grownup and adulting is bloody hard” tired. I think maybe “weary” is the word I’m looking for.
Juniper wants nothing of naps that involve being put down lately. At least I know she will always sleep while pressed against my body. This morning, I committed to cleaning with her in a wrap on my back. But as I sat down in what we have affectionately called “laundry mountain”, I just couldn’t. I needed to do something not nearly that adulty. Kaspar was out with his Granny… so I did a little yoga with Juni on my back. And that felt nice, even if a bit awkward. I also experimented with some photographic skills- self-portraits at slow shutter speeds and backlighting, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. (Yes, this is one of the things moms fill up their mat leave with).
There is a culture of yoga selfies out there on social media… my intention is not really to wade into this world, so these pics are not that. Not by far! It’s actually pretty hard to have perfect form with a 14 pound human on your back. These pics are actually just me trying to find some stillness amidst the movement.
If you’ve paddled white water, you may know that when you’re on a river, you look for the eddies. Every river has them, even if they’re tiny. They’re pools of slack water that sit behind obstacles in the river like rocks. Paddlers like eddies… they’re our friends. They let us pause, reflect, look downstream, breathe. Catching them is sometimes tricky, but it’s well worth it.
This ‘being a grown up’ business is basically just trying to catch eddies while successfully moving downstream. Depending on the kind of life you were placed into/ have cultivated, your river may have lots of calm spots or not that many. They may be glaring and obvious, or you may have to search them out with eagle eyes. Sometimes we all lose our boats and have to swim with everything we’ve got. Sometimes we flip on the edge of the eddy and don’t make it to the oasis we were aiming for.
Yoga has become one of my calm spots. Everything moves so fast … work, my marriage, the kids, maintaining friendships, paying attention to the news, contributing to community events. Cooking, laundry, walking the dog, buying groceries, paying bills. Instagram. Planet Boxes (if you don’t know, don’t ask). Gymnastics sign-up. Chasing toddlers. Don’t get me wrong: I’m aware of my unbelievable privilege in having this life. But it’s FAST. On my mat, I can hear my breath. On my mat, I can move my limbs (which is more than I can say for right now, as I’m trapped beneath a sleeping baby). On my mat, I can plot my next move.
Even within yoga, though, there is both movement and stillness. That’s what I wanted this photo series to represent. There is breath, and a pause at the top and bottom. There are thoughts that rush in, and then silence as we focus on the posture. Our heart beats faster as we have memories, pleasurable or not, and then resumes as we return our attention to what’s going on right now.
The stillness is sometimes subtle, and we have to steal in quickly. I did not want to practice with a sleeping baby on my back today; but there was a tiny calm spot and I took it. Laundry be damned. Life -movement- would not stop just because my baby would not nap. I would have to just bring it all with me as I caught the calm.
In a river eddy there is actually current. It’s usually subtle in comparison to the raging water beside it, but there is a slow pull in the opposite direction of the river. My goal in yoga is not to find absolute stillness; it isn’t to take me out of the world or out of my life. We can’t just cut out the current. I’ve written recently about my struggle to reconcile my love for the world with fear of its dark edges- the hate, the destruction, the uncertainty. There is a raging river of strife on all sides, and that is not even to mention the grind of the day to day. But I don’t aspire to shut all this out and disengage- that would take me out of all the beauty as well. And the world needs me. I just want to catch enough stillness to be able to manage the movement.
Sometimes the calm doesn’t come easily; we have to find the micro-pockets of stillness, and steal some sanctuary where we can. It may all just look like crazy, rushing river- but let’s look carefully, and I hope we can all find an eddy or two to catch. See you downstream:)
In the words of my tiny dragon,
“Namaste to everyone, let the light shine through”.