The first hour after waking is beautiful. The nights and mornings are drawing in, so as my eyelids flutter open at 6am (no alarm clock or child required these days, strangely), I see only the crepuscular semi-haze of dawn peeking from beneath my curtains. As autumn arrives, each dawn is darker than the one before. I rise from the bed, like an hourglass turning, soles touching down on the floor, head rising with a yawn.
I pad to my mat, a mother bear waking from hibernation, and begin. What I do will never be featured on the cover of a Yoga magazine. Simple stretches. A twist. A side bend. An attempt at conscious breathing. Finally, I find myself sitting cross-legged on a couple of thick foam blocks. My meditation begins.
Duty eventually, relentlessly calls and I must make my way downstairs to prepare breakfast and do all the things the family demands. Our day begins to take shape. There are always challenges. This week, it was a child angrily shouting in my face when I made a request. There’s the usual pressure to get the eldest out to the school bus on time. There were a few unexpected events, like a child getting a thorn caught in her foot, the youngest scribbling on the wall, and somehow, a pie dish crashing to the floor.
All within an hour of getting out of bed.
Some days, these things throw me off kilter. I admit I was disappointed when I realised that my Yoga and meditation practice was not an iron-clad get-out clause for life’s challenges. I don’t OM my way through my day, floating serenely above the stress. Rather, I am deeply, intensely, emotionally involved. I see the soil of life before me and I dig my fingers into it, up to the knuckles.
I experience. I feel. I react.
I laugh. I weep. I rage.
I am completely and utterly human.
I am not in search of a way out of being human. Rather, I seek to embrace all that this life and its experiences entail. Because here is the secret:
The practice doesn’t end when I leave the mat.
The on-the-mat practice is a dress rehearsal for everything life throws at me. It allows me to dive into the wellspring of me-ness that runs deeply beneath my lived experience, and there I find refreshment. In that quiet space of constancy I dwell in stillness, even though everything around me is changing. It is the only time of the day when I am being rather than doing. It is the reset button that I long for.
Although it doesn’t exonerate me from life’s challenges, it allows me meet those challenges with a greater sense of my own authentic self. Because I spend time locating that quiet place within, and treading a path there and back, there and back, when I need it in the midst of my day, it’s easier for me to find it. The route is highlighted on my roadmap. The bit I’m working on right now is remembering to get the map out before I lose my way.
It’s all part of the practice.
Copyright Lisa Hassan Scott 2015