The Cherry Practice

Posted on May 3, 2019

It is a late April ritual; visiting the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. I’ve walked here with husbands, lovers, friends, and my daughter at almost every age. This year I am alone and in the coolish dark morning, I can taste the bitter sweetness of that. The blossoms are a breath past their peak and a lump lodges in my throat as I watch them blown off their branches to create a lush pink carpet.

Early as it is, the gardens are already crowded. I feel a little irritated and them mostly let that go. There are small children in small clothes, a beautiful Japanese woman in a bright yellow coat (I briefly imagine that she dressed up for the Cherry Blossoms themselves) and loud highschoolers who don’t seem to care where they are as long as they are together. I feel the passage of time. I feel awe. I feel grateful. I feel awake. I feel lost. Cherry blossoms are really just so over the top that I feel like laughing.

Once past the flowering trees there is plenty of quiet space. I sit down near the vibrant tulips. Are they wondering why no one is paying attention? Once I reassure them of their beauty, I start to think, as i often do about how, in recent years, my practice has kept me alive. I believe that. It has supported my heart when I thought I was feeling nothing or too much. It has kept my body strong as I veered between eating not enough and too much. It helped me honor a gravitational pull toward classes and teachers where I felt safe and at home. But often I realized that only I could give myself the practice I needed and so, like on my morning with the cherry blossoms, I moved through my practice alone.

When you are on your own there can be fewer “shoulds.” During some practices I never stand up; in others, I am mostly upside down. When you first begin a home practice you will probably need a tighter container, a more consistent shape. Still, the shape is designed by YOU. It IS you. And will constantly change. You can think of your time on the mat as ritual, self-care, medicine, training or just playing around. The main rule is you have to show up… because otherwise your mat (like the tulips) gets lonely.

I’ll be doing a Home Practice Workshop in Brooklyn on May 19 and we will talk about all of this. We will talk about practice obstacles and showing up anyway. I hope you will come. If I have anything to offer as a teacher, this may be the most important thing. You will leave with a plan, an outline, the promise of a practice that is uniquely yours. You will also leave with my phone number for a follow-up call for support and questions.

Wherever they bloom, cherry blossoms are a beloved symbol of impermanence. Walking beneath them the sense of change is profound, year by year and moment by moment. This year wasn’t my happiest, easiest visit, but it wasn’t the hardest either. The Buddha encouraged his followers to not simply walk, but to know that they were walking. I think that morning I did. I really knew I was there. That is the fruit of my practice and it tastes good.


One Comment

  1. so beautiful, straight up life, practice, nature. I love it. Thank you!