Yesterday I rose early, enjoyed a joyful yoga practice, shared about it in a blog post, and afterward acknowledged feeling that I had set myself up not only for a delightful day but also, for a smooth and successful spring yoga challenge.
Shortly after noon my mom called me with sad news, a dear family friend had passed, my Uncle Fred. I fell to the floor of my kitchen, half screaming, half laughing. In my mind Uncle Fred, disciple of Neem Karoli Baba, known to many as Swami Ram Tirth, was an enlightened and holy man, and in passing he had been liberated and with joy had gone back to God, so I laughed cheerfully, yet despite this spacious perspective reflecting his spacious being and our unique relationship was the revelation of a true and enormous loss.
All through the rest of the day I thought of the many ways he touched my life, from my childhood until just last week when we shared our last hello and good bye. I recalled many laughters and riddles, many moments of deep questioning and more questioning, and the beauty of his art that he always openly shared with me. I remebered the dinner we had just before I began my yoga teacher training and he whole-heartedly blessed my journey, which to me was the greatest affirmation. He told me he wanted to give me my Sanskrit name, which made my mother protest and we all laughed. Fred was born Jewish like my mother and by proxi myself. He spent many Jewish holidays with our family and in my mother’s eyes, the mutual fondness he and I shared for the Dharma of Hindu philosophies was a just another way to be Jewish. Uncle Fred and I also shared a love for the Dali Lama and what we called our Tibeten connection, which was never really formulated in words, but was rather just a feeling. Fred saw me, and I saw Fred. We could have conversations that covered the expanse of the Universe in five sentences. When I introduced him to people I would warn them to be careful how they spoke to him because he just might take them literally. The simple formal greeting of “How are you today?” could very well receive the answer “How? How is a good question. How are any of us? God knows.” Uncle Fred’s death was announced on April Fools Day, and left all of those who loved him wondering if it was an April Fools Joke. Today, I think Fred would say, “The real joke was that you even thought I was here in the first place.”
John Lennon once said “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”, and I have always found solace in this truth when Life happens, which often times we label a challenge. Thinking that my day and yoga challenge were off to a smooth start was the prefix for life happening. Loosing those we love and showing up for life without blemish is a challenge. In the Jewish Tradition when those close to you die you sit Shiva for seven days, and do nothing but grieve. My mother suggested I take some time for myself, and Suki offered to teach class for me. Heavy hearted I went to bed thinking I may be too vulnerable, sad, and consumed by my grief to even be able to teach, let alone get to a class, where without doubt I would find my way into the well of my sorrow as the energy pealed away in my body. One of the reasons I love the yoga practice is that through it you cannot hide, inevitably you will find yourself feeling how you are truly feeling, no matter how hard you may want not to. Yet, this morning I awoke surprised to find my only desire was to go to Shree to practice yoga and teach yoga on the mysteries and riddles of the universe, ever expanding where nothing lasts forever, and all things last forever, in honor of Uncle Fred, and the mish-mash of spiritual understanding we shared.
I made it in time for Joanne’s Morning Meditation and Asana class at 7:30 which was perfect for my tender state. For all the years we have had Shree’s doors open we have been inviting Joanne to teach a class, I am so grateful she is finally on the schedule, and today I had the pleasure of being her student for the first time. In class I learned to sit on my head in Simple Meditation, feel the layers of my emotional and physical resistance peel away with an energy balancing pranayama excercise and open the soreness in my back with a slow paced vinyasa practice. Tears moved as I came to sit at the end of class affirming that I made the right choice for today, tomorrow may be a different story, but I am consoled in knowing that for now I have plenty of time to finish my nineteen remaining classes, assuming I have the opportunity to continue to enjoy the rising and the setting of the sun.
Life, like death is what happens while you are making other plans, and having a routine to turn to when things are hard, or have fallen apart, like the loss of a loved one, provides an opportunity to find steadiness on shaky ground. Day two’s gift from the yoga challenge, steadiness on shaky ground.
What day three has in store has yet to be revealed. I hope to see you soon in the laughter, sweat, sometimes grumbling and now the high likely hood of my salty tears.
Lots of love,