This summer I have been doing my best to rekindle my pen and paper writing over the technology-driven texting, note taking and ceaseless word documents that I have saved to the ‘catch all’ folder on my desktop. There is much writing that I cannot pin down unless in a spiral notebook, bedazzled with scribbles and ink blots. I have a collection of what once were known as diaries that soon became notebooks, which morphed into art books, blank canvas’, then back to journals, waitress pads, saved doc. files and now back to pen and paper. The best gift anyone could give me is a nice uni-ball pen and blank page spiraled notebook. A woman of my caliber has much to write about and record, the more free space, the better, who needs lines anyway.
In lieu of rekindling this pen and paper relationship, as well as strengthening the muscles in my hand to be able to write at length like the ‘old-days,’ I have lined up some pen pals, close friends of mine that are otherwise off the grid of technology. It is really important in writing letters to be present, remember what you write and share with them because there is no way to reference the last letter, there is no way to know their response, it’s a judgement-free way to get your thoughts out there into the universe. In Kripalu yoga, and in the world, I would hope, there is an exercise known as ‘co-listening.’ It is an exercise performed with two people, face to face or side by side in which one person speaks and shares how they are feeling, emotionally, physically etc and the other listens. The listener simply holds the space. I say ‘simply,’ when in actuality its work to hold this space. The listener must do their best to listen and only listen, no advice back, no judgement, no expression, simple eye contact and compassion. Often it is so easy to give a smile or sigh, a nod of understanding and much harder to allow the other person to share their experience without reaction. In writing letters, I find it to be similar to the co-listening relationship. In letter-writing there is only the opportunity to hold the space, we are in completely different parts of the world, and how we can support each other is through the grace we have when we read the letters, and when we bring our pens to paper to share our experiences.
On a Wednesday at 12:26 pm, mid afternoon…..the infamous letter started. This letter was being written to a dear friend a few states away. We share a similar bond in life and are forever connected for it, it is a true honor to share my experiences in life with her in this intimate way of letter-writing. This is one of the letters I wrote her…..
‘Feels like years since I’ve written to you, but….I am sure it hasn’t been. Let me give you my surroundings to allow you to see my day and then I will share my thoughts. (I often provide the atmosphere, to give a sense of where I am and what I am doing. I feel like it’s much easier to picture me writing as descriptive as I do, if the reader has a bit of a background.) I sit in the warm kitchen in Boston. The windows are open, there is a soft breeze coming in and a breeze above from the fan. There are pops, squeaks and sizzles from the veggie stir fry brewing on the stove behind me. Music plays from my ‘Savasana’ playlist nearby on my cell phone. There are tissues, books and yoga business and event cards strewn about the black table top. It is lunch time here on State Ave. and all seems possible in this apartment. Possibility to change the world, possibility to remain still, quiet and unnoticed. I feel almost like one could disappear here. This lifestyle, this calming energy that surrounds me, hypnotizes me, does little for the chatter in my head. I have just returned from a yoga class in which again, I tried to remain small, unseen, unneeded in all ways physically, mentally and emotionally. I still hear the chatter of judgement and self doubt constantly tweaking inside my head. Yap, yap, yap is really ‘drop your shoulders! Be silent for the hour! don’t look at your phone, you are always looking at your phone! You are constantly seeking others approval, need, attention, just be as you are and do the practice!’ The endless cycle of the monkey mind is all too familiar. Today the voice is telling me that I have no idea what I am doing. I have no idea what yoga is, what a practice should look like or how tightly wound my body really is. As I begin to cycle through the myriad of ways in which I can shame myself, I ignite this conversation inside and begin to blame and criticize myself. I recall conversations about opening to the practice of yoga and I fall into the trap of believing this chatter, beginning to feel the resistance in my body and there it is….the conviction of my beliefs that I am a waste of space, worthless, stupid for thinking I am anything else.
Yoga classes like the one I attended, or any for that matter, allow me to feel humbled post class. I am able to see myself physically and mentally and my reaction during and after class; I experience a yoga hangover of sorts. Right now I am sitting ‘in it’. Dwelling. Spiraling and feeling my body fatigue as I write this letter to you. Please don’t judge me.
I know patience, ease and tuning out the chatter can better help me to advance into my day, unfortunately with this wave of silence it has robbed me of my willpower. Luckily it is only 10’o’clock. A full 12-11 hours are ahead of me, these emotions can shift. I notice that when I participate in life, I feel brave…..and when I make myself small, shy away on these different levels, something shifts. I no longer want to be brave. I doubt all that I know and exhaust myself. The woes of my small world and the power of one’s mind.
As I move forward into this day I am reminded of a truth. None of us have any idea what we are doing….
We are all walking around acting as if we do. Quietly filled with doubt as well as a soft confidence hoping someone else will go first, be the example. I compare this to the moments before a yoga class begins. The moments when everyone is a stranger, as we arrive on our mats. Each student begins to explore their bodies, quietly, shyly and dying inside to shout out ‘Hi! my name is ….’ In those moments we shield ourselves, just as when we walk down a street or wait in a line. We all have thoughts, monkey minds, desires, lives, yet we shield them, we don’t want others to see our human-ness. The nugget that I take away from this morning, this spiraling, icky chatter-filled morning, is that I feel as even though I tried to remain small, quiet and unseen….I still showed up. This morning, I showed up. I introduced myself. I got up into handstand, forearm-stand, whichever it was…..and shared my human-ness. I feel like this ‘icky’ chatter is the ego trying to beat that courage down, trying to convince my mind that showing up, being vulnerable, being seen was a bad thing. Was it worth it to share myself? My mind begins to bring in all the big guns to prove that truth to me. until i believe it……….’
I wanted to share this letter with you because it not only provided an insight into my experience that day, but so quickly how we can spiral out of control and begin to monopolize the experience with only our point of view. Of course there is nothing else more important in this world but ‘me’ right? No one person is more important, higher ranked, more authentic than me, right? We all think this about ourselves, we are our top priority and no one else’s. Realizing how in my experience, it was my physical discomfort and monkey mind chatter that enabled me to see how none of this mattered. The entire experience was told through the eyes of an on-looker. When I reread this letter and I am sure when my dear friend read it, it reads through the eyes of an on-looker, someone offering judgement and critique, even though not a word was spoken. This letter was a defining moment for me in beginning this blog. I find inspiration in a lot of my life but most importantly I find inspiration in my own experiences and subsequently from my writings about those experiences. It is often easier to see the road block when it is placed in front of you. It is easier to learn the lesson when you do not have to read between the lines. Upon seeing this truth, I realized that I must get my writing out there more, to share these gifts I am learning through my own wisdom…….wisdom to remember that none of us have any idea what we are doing, we only try really to.
p.s. still looking for pen pals….anyone interested all letters welcome!
enjoy this day