The Week After the Supermoon

Posted by on Oct 27, 2016

 

 

On the kitchen table there was an old bouquet of flowers. I felt a little sorry for them and methodically removed what was dry, wilted or rotten. I didn’t know if there would be all that much left. When I was finished, the arrangement still filled a small jar, and in its spare, weathered way seemed maybe more interesting than before. The colors were softer, the arrangement a little more spacious; there was a kind of patience to the stems that remained.

 

I just had a birthday and I’m feeling a little like those flowers. Over the past year I’ve gone through menopause, struggled to heal from the devastation of a Lyme infection, and left the man I thought I would be with for the rest of my life. I have a suitcase worth of clothes, a handful of people that I love, my dog, and no permanent address.

 

The mental and physical strain has taken its toll. I’ve gotten thinner. And I don’t say that with vanity; it is not necessarily my best look. But it does feel right, like I am shedding a certain amount of excess. My body seems to be maintaining only what it needs for this turn of the wheel.

 

The Buddha purportedly told his followers, “Within this fathom-long body and mind is found all of the teachings.” Such a good reminder.

 

Earlier this month I taught the first session of a 4-week Introduction to Yoga and Meditation. It is a series that I always treasure having the opportunity to teach. Leading up to the first class this year I was having a pretty hard time, and the muscles on one side of my low back had something urgent to say. At first I didn’t listen and then, after years of being relatively quiet and content, they roared up into an angry spasm.

 

Anyone who has had back spasms knows just how debilitating they can be. Even, or especially, turning over in bed is a major event. Careful walking was just about ok, as was sitting perfectly upright. Demonstrating any full-on yoga pose was out of the question.

 

Yet there I was, my posture decidedly askew, cheerfully facing a group of the hopeful yoga-curious. In our introductory circle I learned that some had come to class to be relieved of physical pain and mental stress. How could I possibly help them? When the realities of my messy life, and my been-around-the-block body stand mockingly between me and what I think I am there to teach, what is left?

 

A Buddhist teacher recently reminded me that faith is considered the seed of the spiritual path. From faith, the magic of our life as it actually is can blossom. An attitude of faith suggests that whatever is happening in our lives is somehow okay, workable, and on time. Much as I would like to tell these eager students otherwise, practice does not make us immune from the suffering of age, injury, illness or heartache. But it can deepen our faith. “Look!” our practice reminds us, “This is what it is to be human. “

 

The morning of that first class I got carefully out of bed, lay on the floor and did the teeniest little cat and cow poses. I tried some very gentle core stabilization and then meditated in constructive rest pose. Most importantly, I did not panic. I noticed self-judgment rising up and let it go. All I could do was show up. Somehow, the class went really well and all of the students returned the following week. By then I was moving again.

 

Today, as yet another day fades, I look out the window of the little room I’ve been calling home, I watch my favorite season unfold. The urban gardens below me are tough and eloquent reminders of the greater natural world. Even with all the limits imposed on them, the colors are still delightful, birds and insects stop by to snack, there is movement in the leaves and some sweet sounds.

 

My recent birthday fell just after the October supermoon. Profound energy shifts and enormous healing potential have been promised. I hope that bodes well for the November election. Personally, I do still feel like a somewhat slighter version of myself. But I have faith that it is workable; there is still love, there is still change, there is still breath. There is still a lot left.

 

old-bouquet

10 Comments

  1. Susan,
    I am truly sorry to hear that you’re going through such a rough spell. I know it will get better. I know because I’ve “followed” you from afar and seen the relationship you have with your students, your daughter, and the universe. You are a source of strength for others and others will be present for you.
    Thank you for sharing your profound and beautiful thoughts. X, Anne Stark

    • Anne,

      Thank you so much for reading and for your very kind words. I am truly touched that I have been on your radar. I hope you and your twins and all your loved ones are well. Warmest wishes to you.

  2. I’m touched by your appreciation of the beauty of nature, your honesty about the raggedness of life and your hope holding strong at the end! I love your resurrected bouquet pic.

    • Thank you so much dear JB! Hope to see you very soon.

  3. Hi Susan,
    I remember in advanced TT your support in assisting me in forearm stand. I had just been through the devastation of Sandy and lost so much. I could always do that pose but suddenly no longer could. Something inside me was lost and weakened. Having you next to me was so comforting.
    I’m now enjoying a stronger forearm stand. Looking back I realize I needed time to heal and be born again. In discarding the old and withered flowers you could appreciate the beauty of the ones left to blossom still. A little life left. Suffering is not at all eloquent but your words and perspective are, and a reminder to us of Faith. We can’t always feel it or trust in it but that little seed once planted remains. I hope it will carry you through this difficult time.
    Nature is such a wonderful teacher and healer.
    May you be happy.🎃
    🙏❤️
    Denise Lee

    • Dear Denise, Your kind and thoughtful comments brought a big lump to my throat. I don’t remember that moment in TT but I am glad if it was helpful. I do remember what a difficult time it was for you and then, as always, the beauty of your presence. Much love and appreciation to you, S

  4. I am so glad I got to spen some time in your presence.

    • Oh Hazelanne, Ditto.

  5. Susan, your beautiful writing brings on the tears, not of sorrow or sadness, but of just feeling deeply. Your brave and honest words touch me, and obviously from the comments above, touch everyone. The bouquet is a beautiful metaphor.

    You may not feel strong these days, but you surely are, in your ability to touch our souls.

    KEEP WRITING!

    • Dear Nancy–I don’t think I replied to your beautiful comment. Thank you. Your response means so much to me…truly. When are you coming to New York?xo

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