Hello darkness, my old friend

Last night, I lay under a blanket in savasana. The lights were dimmed almost all the way down in the yoga studio. Several tea lights were burning along the windowsills and on the little alter at the front of the room. An Eva Cassidy CD was playing quietly. I pulled the blanket up over my head, felt the soft wool draped over my arms, legs, belly, feet, hands and face. I felt the quiet wrap around me like loving arms. I sensed the darkness caressing me, the way a mother touches her sleepy child. My breath naturally deepened, without effort. My thoughts wandered, but I no longer had to strain in order to let them go. I wondered how much time had passed. Surely the teacher had decided to extend the hour-long class tonight?

Her voice came, soft and gentle in the hush. “Slowly turn onto your right side,” she instructed, “exposing your left body, your creativity and intuition.” I turned, pausing to inhale the slight scent of sandalwood the blanket had absorbed over so much exposure. In that moment, I knew what it was to receive. I understood “enough.” What more could be needed than this, this moment of darkness, of breathing deeply, of nothing around me but the soft warmth of a yoga blanket and my own self, my own self alone? I consciously inhaled the deliciousness of this moment before coming to sitting. Hello, I thought. We finished with one round of “aum,” bowing first to our own hearts and then to each other.

With the lights back on, I was aware of a shift. I noticed the impulse to interact, the exertion. I noticed more acutely, although without judgment really, how I strive and sometimes strain to connect. How I go after the connection, invite it, reach for it. This is a gift, a strength in some ways. But it is also a place for me to practice letting go, trusting more the power of staying, of allowing myself to settle into that deeply inward place where I feel so very much at home, so much relief, rest, and peace. To let the connections meet me halfway.

I put on my winter coat and slipped on my clogs. I walked out to the parking lot, welcoming the chill against my face. I started the car. NPR was on, talking heads, something about homeownership and foreclosures. I turned off the radio and began driving. I drove slowly. I came to a full stop at every stop sign. When I arrived home, I sat in the driveway for a few minutes with the headlights off. I wondered if Greg and the girls were upstairs yet getting ready for bed. I felt ready, ready to go back into my life.

This morning, waking up in Pearl’s bed all srunched and squished, I stretched my arms way up overhead, drew my knees in close to my chest, then reached my legs out as far as a could. I could still feel the depth of breathing from class. I felt more aware of my body, more connected to it. I felt more existent. And then it was on to a new day today, everything as undone and halfway as before, except for me – a little more centered, a little more present, a little longer and more spacious, more patient and able and open.

The thing is to recall this next Wednesday, when I’m resisting going to class, when I’m tempted to skip it, to put Greg first, to put kids first, to put everything else first. To remember how one yoga class, one hour-long yoga class, changes everything. Changes me. Brings me home, every single time.

What helps you remember to honor the things that bring you home?

11 thoughts on “Hello darkness, my old friend

  1. Doris G. says:

    Thank you Jena for sharing this.
    What helps me remember to honor the things that bring me home? Simple things, like sitting at the kitchen counter in the early morning hours,watching the sun come up behind the trees, and drinking hot coffee out of a mug made by hand by a potter.

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  2. Shelli says:

    Beautiful post. For me I think it’s having time to myself to write. And I’m also a sucker for drinking hot coffee out of mug made by hand by a local potter…my husband rolls his eyes at my mugs. But I embrace them every morning!! And on the rare occasion when I can sit alone on the front porch drinking coffee…bliss!

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  3. Holly says:

    lovely, jena. its been so long since i’ve been to that place of warmth and connectedness. you remind me that its the most important thing there is.

    Like

  4. Rowena says:

    Good question. I think this is something that has to be constantly remembered in the chaos and craziness of everyday, especially with two little guys, who don’t really wait for me to get my balance before haring off to the next wildchild escapade.

    I am trying to remember to do nothing more often. I often feel as if I am doing nothing but I have all the expectations of productivity. So I am trying to build in no-guilt nothingness to my day.

    Some music helps. A shower helps. Sitting outside under the trees. Going to bed early.

    A constant push pull of things I need to do for other people and things I need to do to take care of myself.

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  5. Mama Zen says:

    This is a beautiful post. What helps me remember? Honestly, I don’t. Not often, anyway. I stumble across myself, and it’s a surprise every time.

    Like

  6. MereMortal says:

    A nice drive, alone, with the windows down and the desert breeze blowing…and some music blasting.

    This post, also, reminds me to come home. May you be brought back to that place again and again.

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  7. writermeeg says:

    For me, sitting at the beach. And Nia class, which is no longer offered in my town. Maybe I should go back to yoga. A nice savasana does sound lovely.

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  8. Elizabeth Harper says:

    That was a lovely post. You took me right back to the Bikram Yoga classes I used to take when I lived in Atlanta. I’d go mostly in the cold months and the way you described stepping out into the chill is just as I remember.

    I have to be reminded sometimes to close the computer and go for a run or walk… alone. That never fails to bring me back to my center.

    Rock Climbing or practicing my cello can be like meditation too.

    Like

  9. Elizabeth Harper says:

    That was a lovely post. You took me right back to the Bikram Yoga classes I used to take when I lived in Atlanta. I’d go mostly in the cold months and the way you described stepping out into the chill is just as I remember.

    I have to be reminded sometimes to close the computer and go for a run or walk… alone. That never fails to bring me back to my center.

    Rock Climbing or practicing my cello can be like meditation too.

    Like

  10. RocketMom Cheryl says:

    did i say it already? thanks for the reminder. too easy it is to get stuck (in front of the computer). When I have a moment to myself, what will I do?

    Like

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