I'll be honest with you guys: during the past few weeks, I was feeling a little unsettled. Some days, a lot unsettled. I struggled to remain present during practice. Meditation felt, frankly, like a chore - so I avoided it. Poses that normally delight me were making me feel tired and frustrated. Enlightenment had never seemed further from my reach. "How can I already be burning out?" I asked myself anxiously. "Am I already running out of patience for this practice?!"
Though I've been enjoying the upsides of our massive snow dump, its beauty is a little bit harder to discern this week. Dirty brown and grey slush stretches as far as the eye can see, and everyone seems to be in agreement that it has worn out its welcome.
It poured yesterday which created quite the soggy situation in Fells Point - including my bedroom, where cold water had seeped through the window and onto my yoga mat, as I discovered with dismay when I got home from work. Fortunately for me, the sun peeked out just in time for me to traipse down the hill to Sarah Cook's hot vinyasa class. I took my time wandering the few blocks to the studio and on my way, saw a few things that cheered me up. A dog bounced around happily in its winter coat. The reflections of spindly tree branches at the Thames Street park caught my eye in the deep murky puddles. I took photos of these reflections, but my phone freaked out and didn't save them - which is actually great, I think. Now I have to memorize that image rather than leave it to be forgotten among the thousands of other snapshots I've taken. Internalizing that image, I started to feel, dare I say, present.
Sarah Cook always has something profound and unique to say, and yesterday's class was no exception. She, too, had taken notice of the huge amounts of standing water in the city, and thus dedicated our practice to focusing on the elements - specifically, water.
For the first time in a while, I felt really, really present throughout the flow of her class and even surprised myself with a relatively effortless visualization meditation during our final savasana. I'd been so frustrated at my perceived inability to slow down the wheels of my mind during rest that I had forgotten how amazing it feels to turn completely inward like that.
Just as the city alternates between wet and dry, hot and cold, it seems to me that my "presentness" also ebbs and flows. And I find a lot of comfort in that: even on a day when it feels completely out of reach, I can trust it will return as my days run their course.
Have you been struggling to remain present lately? What helps you to "come back?"
P.S. Today is day 2 of 14 for the Yoga Works Heart Opening Challenge. Are you participating? Let me know so we can cheer each other on!