familiar and yet not so


Still Life with Weiners and Beer

Seven months ago I shelved my love of rock climbing, as well as my rock gym membership. I did so in the interest of shaking my life up a bit, and in the interest of making progress on one of my life goals: teach something. I signed up for a yoga teacher training course.

Last night I went to the climbing gym for some climbing fun and quality time with some of my best friends. One of them asked me what the highlight of my summer was, more in terms of a pattern than in terms of a specific moment. My summer was full of a variety of things: cooking, gardening, shooting pictures, visiting with family, running, racing, yoga teaching, yoga practice, a little travel, some bicycle commuting, some dining out, and zero work on our cute little house.

As I was standing there talking with him, and belaying a third friend, with my fingers raw from climbing on the rough fake rock and my toes cramped into those neglected but familiar tiny climbing shoes, I decided that my summer was about yoga. It was not so in the sense that I was doing more yoga than anything else, because lately I’ve been feeling that my race training has been doing that. My summer was about yoga in the sense that yoga philosophy has really started to sink in, and to have some reach and consequences on other parts of my life. Yoga is about awareness and the connectedness of everything. Some symptoms:

  • I focus more on what I eat. Yes, I eat sausages. I’m German: I crave them, that’s the reality. They taste good and I am grateful to the elk (yup, the sausage above had elk meat in it) and the talented butchers who provided them to me for a delicious meal last weekend. But I’m striving for more balance and variety, and less meat. I’m striving for slightly less sugar and alcohol, partly due to interest in losing a few pounds, but also to interest in being content with just what my body needs, not what it craves or has developed a habit for. I’m drinking more water and tea.
  • I started teaching last April, to a fabulous group of coworkers, and the experience has been surprising and terrific in many ways. Not only am I helping people feel better, but I’m enjoying my own music collection more, I’m getting more oxygen, and in my search for meaning to impart to my students in class, I’m looking at my experiences with a different eye. Or maybe it’s just my own old poetic eye that had been neglected, but I feel like I’m seeing new things each day.
  • I’m being more nurturing, to myself. Taking rest days.
  • More often than before, I’m taking a default approach to conflict that attempts to see things in the other person’s eyes. I’m asking questions, and doing my best to be in a position of empathy. It makes everything fuzzier, in terms of parameters and how to make decisions, but it also makes life a little warmer and more real.
  • The moments in that climbing gym evening when I was actually climbing were so full of intent! Climbing has always been an activity that demands my full attention, but now it seems even more so, or perhaps in a different way. I savored each and every flag, backstep, and weight transfer in a way that seemed a little unfamiliar and yet powerfully reassuring. I was impressed with myself.

So later in the evening, much later, I was faced with bedtime and a very wide-awake body. Gym nights are always very stimulating, so afterwards I usually need a few hours to unwind enough to be able to sleep. My yoga candle and mat called to me; last year at this time it would have been a beer and the television. A few breaths, a few stretches, and several moments of quiet reflection. Meditation.